The Dallas Morning News has an editorial on the US bishops’ Scandal audit. (And it even includes quote by little old me.)
I had said that the audit’s focus on compliance with policies and programs was like Congress reacting to the the Watergate break-ins by examining laws regarding breaking and entering. It’s not the crime, but the cover up. What the bishops should be focusing on is not the regrettable crimes of the priests who abused, but the cover up by bishops that allowed the predations to continue.
If only bishops had reported pervert priests to the police rather than pat them on the head, send them to ineffective therapy, and send them back into parishes, instead of thousands of children molested over the past half century, it might have been a handful (especially if the punishment given to early offenders acted as a deterrent).
In fact, my Watergate reference might have been more accurate if I had said that it was like the Nixon White House examining breaking-and-entering laws. By most accounts, two-thirds of the bishops were responsible in some measure for covering up abuse. Yet it is the bishops themselves who hire the auditors and set the terms of investigation. What I would much rather have seen is an audit from above, a special team coming from Rome, perhaps even using the same auditors, but having the Vatican set the terms of investigation. Would that be possible under canon law? I don’t know. I know I wouldn’t want it done by a secular or governmental group with its own agenda.
Still, even with the self-examination that the audit is, the bishops could have provided at least some hope that it was going to be useful by opening up the parameters of the investigation and giving the auditors free rein, making them truly independent. Alas, they squandered that opportunity. So this week we were treated to some self-congratulatory backslapping: “Look how well we have reformed ourselves. Everything is all better now.” I wish I could believe that.