I know I said at one time I was going to continue to write about the Catholic Church and the abuses, over decades, of children. I’ve been negligent. It’s not as if in the interim that the church has come out and blamed the victims or that more recently, blamed gay priests for all of the abuses over time. I found in both of those instances how little, if any media coverage those outrageous statements received in the media. If I were a conspiracy theorist, I might tend to believe that media are covering for child abusers.
I seriously doubt that but I find that the minimal coverage of a scandal that goes back decades or more, all across the country if not the world, receives so little notice. Do people really not care about these abuses? I doubt that as well, which leads to the latest revelation, just this week, as reported in The New York Times. Yes, the Catholic Church in Texas just reported abuse of children by some 300 priests over a period of some 80 years.
The lists released, according to the Times, were prepared by al 15 dioceses, separately. With that these data do not have a continuous timeline. Some start in the 1940’s, others in the 1950’s. Most of the priests on the list, according to the Times, are either dead or have been previously prosecuted. It’s also noted that there are few reported abuse cases after 2002 when the church adopted The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The data provided, in some instances is rather sketchy, with little detail which makes the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests believe that there is more here than what is being admitted to currently.
Mr. Petersen also said he thought it was probable that there were more than 300 priests who had committed sexual abuse in Texas since 1950. He pointed to a report in December by the Illinois attorney general that said the Catholic Church there had withheld the names of at least 500 priests accused of sexually abusing minors.
That’s reason enough to be skeptical with the lists provided. Of course, unless the Texas Attorney General’s office becomes involved, there’s not much chance to prove one way or another that these lists are exhaustive. A spokesman for the Attorney General stated
“We have not received any such requests, but we are ready to provide assistance to local prosecutors in accordance with state law and original criminal jurisdiction,” Mr. Rylander said in an email. “No young person should ever live in fear of abuse, especially abuse from religious and spiritual leaders.”
Of course, the church, attempting to minimize these horrific acts, came out with a statement of contrition.
“The bishops of Texas have decided to release the names of these priests at this time because it is right and just and to offer healing and hope to those who have suffered,” the cardinal said. “On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology. Our church has been lacerated by this wound and we must take action to heal it.”
Just one phrase in that statement really caught my eye: “On behalf of all who have failed in this regard…”. All of those? Is he referring to the Catholic Church itself? Of course he’s not. Yes, those individuals that abused children deserve a great part of the blame, but what about the institution that covered up these abuses over those decades?
I still believe that there is the perfect opportunity, based on the abuse cases already disclosed around the country, for the federal government to charge the Catholic Church under RICO.