February 08, 2006

Catholic bishops should back justice for abuse victims

Kalamazoo Gazette

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
By Jack Ruhl

Catholic bishops cry out for justice. The Web site for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops www.usccb.org/index.shtml) includes a very detailed ``Social Justice Issues'' section. The bishops describe how to achieve justice in 19 different areas, from arms control and debt to Social Security and welfare.

One is struck by the fact that their cries for justice are all directed at the world outside the institutional Catholic Church. To the bishops (with one exception described below), it is the laity, especially businesspeople, politicians and scientists who are responsible for injustice in the world. They overlook the grave injustice that results when young people are sexually abused by Catholic priests, brothers and nuns and neither the abuser nor the church is held accountable. And it's not as if they are unaware of it.

In 2002, church leaders commissioned a study which resulted in the document referred to as the John Jay report. The authors of this report estimate that there were more than 10,000 victims of clergy sexual abuse in the last 50 years. University of Arizona sociologist and Catholic priest Father Andrew Greeley believes this to be a gross understatement. Greeley estimates the number to be closer to 100,000.

Children who are sexually abused by clergy suffer greatly. They may experience a lifetime of low self-esteem and depression and some victims have committed suicide as a result of their abuse. Others experience marital difficulties, while others go on to lives marred by substance abuse. Catholic priest and canon lawyer Father Thomas Doyle has accurately labeled what is done to these young people as ``soul murder.''

Posted by kshaw at February 8, 2006 08:53 AM