The April 20th Edition of the National Catholic Reporter has an editorial entitled "Little Genuine Progress on Sex Abuse." It relates that the executive director of the Bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection" provided a 2006 audit with an accompanying letter. The letter, the editorial points out, which is signed by the executive director, says there is a:
"Surrounding atmosphere that one might describe as Refusal to See the Evidence. It takes two forms. Those who see the bishops in a negative light refuse to acknowledge the positive steps they have taken to address the problem of child sexual abuse and refuse to see the evidence that demonstrates the accomplishment which have been made." (The capitals and bold were in the original letter)
As the editorial, observes, how else could anyone view the actions of the bishops in other then a "negative light"? It goes on to correctly observe that "A majority of bishops over more then two decades covered up heinous crimes, moved priestly predators from parish to parish and paid hush money to victims while using strong-arm legal tactics."
I’ve commented about the conduct of the American bishops regarding priest sexual abuse and their failure to take responsibility and be accountable. (See post 1/2/07) What did strike a bell with me in this editorial was the conduct of the bishops regarding efforts to block civil damage remedies for victims. As the editorial says:
"And it’s not progress when the bishops use hard ball tactics to combat efforts to repeal civil statutes of limitations related to child sex abuse. The same institution, and in some cases, the same people who conspired to cover up their crimes, now lobbies to make sure that it is not held accountable for those crimes. That’s not progress."
I might add, that it is also not progress to have the bishops engage in a public relations campaign to blame the victims and their attorneys to deflect responsibility from their own doorstep. That tactic of blaming the victim is the tactic of corporate wrongdoers in order to minimize their own accountability. The bishops may want to put this behind them and move on, but sweeping things under the rug, denying responsibility and blocking victims remedies, is not justice.