March 10, 2005

Priests and Punishment

North Bay Bohemian

By Hank Mattimore

Let's be clear where I stand on the subject of priests sexually abusing kids. It's not just "inappropriate" or even "unacceptable." The sexual abuse of children, especially when done by a person in a position of trust, is abhorrent. It is a betrayal of trust of the worst kind. As a parent and now a grandparent, I am appalled that this kind of behavior was allowed to continue in the church I love.

All this has been said more eloquently than I have expressed it. Outrage at the behavior of abusive priests and silent bishops has been shouted from the housetops, and (finally) the cries of victims and parents and the Catholic in the pew are being heard. Bishops are no longer able to protect offending priests from legal sanctions. Structures have been set up in every parish in the country to make sure that this never happens again.

Kathleen McChesney, a former FBI official who in 2002 helped establish the Church's Office of Child and Youth Protection, recently announced that only 22 new cases involving abuse of minors surfaced during 2004. One can argue that even one new case is too many, but given the fact that there are over 50,000 priests in this country serving over 100 million Catholics, it appears that the protections put in place by the bishops and their lay Catholic associates are starting to produce results.

The victims of child abuse who have come forward at great emotional cost to confront their abusers and relive their childhood trauma deserve our gratitude. If parishes and schools are safer places today, it is because these victims of abuse had the courage to tell their stories.

Posted by kshaw at March 10, 2005 07:46 PM