The head of the US bishops conference child protection office praised the Boston archdiocese’s abuse prevention programs. It’s a massive effort to train 400,000 adults and kids on how to prevent abuse. Every parish is supposed to send a group of people to be trained to train others. I opted not to go. I’ve been to similar training in the past and it’s mostly common sense things, such as no kid should ever be alone with an adult and so on.
My problem is that while such training is fine, I’m afraid it will lull us into complacency. We can say, “Look we’re doing something about child abuse.” But we’re not doing anything about the root causes. In the hundreds of cases that have been publicized in Boston over the past year, it’s not that no one knew that the alleged abusers had been accused. The problem is that people did know and didn’t do anything about it. And while less than 3 percent of priests nationwide have been accused of abuse, two-thirds of bishops are accused of covering up abuse. The question remains what do we do about the 3-percent-abusers? What do we do about the two-thirds-enablers? They won’t be answered by training programs for parishioners, but only by the whole Catholic Church looking honestly at how we got here.