Who’s responsible for this after all?

Who’s responsible for this after all?

A priest ordered not to have contact with children is found working at a treatment facility for troubled kids. Immediately all fingers point at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Let’s look at the facts here. Father David Kelley first had complaints filed about him in 1983 from parents who said he was too interested in their children. Nothing substantial there. In 1987 he was sent to a treament center for counseling related to alcoholism and sexual issues (and if it’s the center I’m thinking of, it was probably homosexual issues).

In 1994, the archdiocese received the first complaint that the priest had molested a teenage boy in the 1970s. At the time, the policy was to bar him from being alone with kids but not remove him from ministry. The archdiocese said it did not notify authorities because allegation was so old that the statute of limitations had expired. Bad move. That’s not for them to decide, but for the police.

Fast forward to this year. Kelley has worked for much of this year at the Northland Intervention Center, which provides court-ordered drug and alcohol treatment to adult and kids. Kelley is known to have provided one-on-one counseling to at least one teen boy. A question: Did no one at Northland check his background with the archdiocese? And if they did, did anyone at the archdiocese tell Northland of the restrictions? Never mind the fact that Kelley himself knew of the restrictions on him.

Kelley and several other priests with past credible allegations against them were due to go before the diocesan review board this fall. I don’t know why it comes so late after the Dallas policy went into effect.

In any case, I also don’t agree with some of the critics of the Church.

Church critics say that’s not soon enough. They say Kelley’s employment at a private treatment facility shows that the archdiocese cannot provide the supervision necessary to ensure priests follow the rules.

“The same people who created the problem are not the ones who can fix it,” said Nan Fischer, chairwoman of Voice of the Faithful in Cincinnati. “They said he was removed from contact with children. Obviously, that’s not true.”

What exactly are they proposing? Are priests to be treated differently than other people accused of crimes that are never prosecuted? Are giving them scarlet letters to wear around in public? Where is the criticism of this treatment center?

Yes, the archdiocese failed in several key points and even after the Dallas policy went into effect and they had “learned so much” about how to handle sex abuse. But what is VOTF proposing as effective supervision of accused priests? Kelley wasn’t convicted of anything and wouldn’t have been because of the expiration of the statute. I guess I’m wondering where the diocese’s responsibility ends and the accused priest’s responsibility begins. In the whole article, the only criticism is of the diocese and not of the priest who is the one who actually is alleged to have done something wrong.

Sounds like the priorities are reversed: criticize the accused first, then look to others’ responsibility. Otherwise it’s typical VOTF rhetoric.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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