October 06, 2005

Opinion | Undermining trust in the church

Philadelphia Inquirer

Rev. Thomas Doyle

The Philadelphia grand jury report on sexual child abuse by Catholic priests is outrageous. It is also true. Both adjectives apply to the graphic descriptions of the unspeakable violations of the bodies and souls of the victims by Catholic priests in Philadelphia.

They also apply to the callous disregard for victims so blatantly consistent in the behavior of the church's leadership. Everything about the report is deeply disturbing especially the discrepancy between the rule of justice and the rule of law. Thankfully, the grand jurors addressed the issue head-on and left no doubt that the behavior of two cardinals and several lower clerical functionaries was truly criminal in substance and intent, and the only reason they escaped indictment was the woeful inadequacy of Pennsylvania law.

The response from the archdiocesan lawyers and therefore from the archdiocese itself, was even more outrageous. It is a classic example of narcissistic blame-shifting, name-calling, and denial. Civilized society reacts to sexual abuse of the young with abhorrence. The fact that the abusers in this case are among the most trusted members of society is even more abhorrent. The grand jury was presented with overwhelming evidence that the leadership of the archdiocese knew about the abuse and protected itself rather than the innocent victims and the faithful in general.

The response does not contain one shred of compassionate recognition of the emotional devastation and soul murder inflicted upon the many victims. It only confirms the worst conclusions of the grand jury: The archdiocese callously betrayed the trust of its faithful by ignoring the ongoing sexual abuse and even re-victimized victims by their cold and inquisitorial tactics. This response is an insult to the district attorney, her staff and the grand jurors. Worst of all, it is cruel and highly offensive to the victims.

Posted by kshaw at October 6, 2005 01:05 PM