April 03, 2006

Church leaders still don't get it

Concord Monitor


For the Monitor
On Thursday, I went to the two press conferences concerning the Diocese of Manchester audit report released by the attorney general. The diocese scheduled its press conference to begin just after Kelly Ayotte issued her evaluation.

The report by KPMG stated that the diocese's efforts to date were sorely lacking in commitment from the top to correct the conditions that led to widespread child sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Ayotte observed that church efforts had not even included simple measures such as criminal records checks and sex offender registry checks. These are routinely used by other institutions that work with children.

Father Edward Arsenault, speaking on behalf of the diocese, made no apologies for not attending Ayotte's press conference. He did not need to, he said, because he had read the AG's letter that complimented the church on positive steps taken during the last couple of years.

What Arsenault failed to acknowledge meaningfully were the five pages after that introductory paragraph that took the church leadership to task for not implementing even the most basic steps to assure that abusive priests and staff are not free to prey on children.

Arsenault spent most of his time at the press conference challenging a few incidental facts in the KPMG auditors' report. He said these minor errors undermined the whole report, including the auditors' central critique of church practices. In challenging the report in this way, Arsenault undermined his other point: that the diocese still has more to do.

Posted by kshaw at April 3, 2006 12:22 PM