Joe Gallagher, writing an opinion column in the Boston Herald gives a wrong diagnosis on the Scandal but offers an okay prescription. Gallagher represents the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors. I’m not sure he’s Catholic; my recollection is that he’s not, but I’m not sure of that.
He starts off by slamming the Church, saying that the Vatican revisions to the Dallas policy eviscerated it. He’s off base when he complains about due process for the accused and a clear definition of what constitutes sexual abuse. He says “by all accounts thus far” the Charter has been watered down. Hasn’t he read it? Then why’s he commenting on it in public?
His greatest complaint is that the Vatican changed the requirement that all cases be immediately reported to police to just requiring compliance with all local laws. The change gives local bishops flexibility in refusing to pursue frivolous cases, and in any case, it doesn’t prevent the victim from going to police himself. Yes, that flexibility has been abused in the past, but in an ideal world a better bishop (or one who has learned from his mistakes) would take better care in examining accusations.
But Gallagher is right on one thing: If people want mandatory reporting then they should get their lawmakers to pass a law. Why are they relying on the Church for everything? Why isn’t anyone asking where law enforcement has been on this for decades? Don’t tell me that police and DAs and judges didn’t know about it. We’ve seen evidence of cover-ups by secular authorities. It’s not just a clerical problem. The muck splatters many people.
At its base, however, all these proposed solutions are just secular responses. You hardly hear anything about a faith-based solution. No one asks about the spirituality of priests and bishops. All the child protection training talks about psychology and the like. There’s hardly a hint of prayer or holiness. It’s just offered as a secondary, throw-away statement: “And, oh yeah, we should pray more.” At least Pope John Paul hasn’t missed it, because he’s been calling for prayer, repentance, and holiness. Unfortunately when he does, he’s derided by everyeon as being out of touch and ignoring the real problems. I think he’s more on target than all the so-called experts and advocates.