Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the US bishops’ conference, issued a statement yesterday about the Diocese of Manchester, NH, decision to admit it would have been convicted of criminal child endangerment charges and settle with the attorney general’s office.
Notice how Gregory distances himself and the other bishops from McCormack’s actions: “It does not in any way indicate agreement on the part of any other diocese or of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in the legal analysis on which the Office of the Attorney General of New Hampshire has acted.”
My favorite line is this one: “We did this because, as bishops individually and collectively have acknowledged, there were mistakes and failures in our handling of cases of abuse of minors by clergy.” Ah yes, the old Clinton dodge. “Mistakes were made.” Not that “we” made mistakes, of course, but that mistakes were made by unspecified person at unspecified times by unspecified means. Which makes the following line a real howler:“As church leaders, we are willing to own up to our mistakes.” Which mistakes, since apparently no one specific made the ones mentioned previously?
- However, except for those very few who personally have also been perpetrators, church leaders have not intentionally endangered the welfare of children.
This is what makes it all so galling. It’s not that bishops (why does he keep using the ambiguous “church leaders”?) had it in for children. It’s that they were so careless and apparently so oblivious to the danger, that they were so intent on protecting and coddling perverts that they didn’t spare a thought for those who would be injured.