Thursday, April 7, 2011

Church fails in its duty
Editorial: Church response to abuse not strong enough
By The Spectator Staff

Published: Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, April 6, 2011 21:04

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The Spectator applauds university President Stephen Sundborg, S.J. for his apology to the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers about the abuse some First Nations people suffered at the hands of Jesuits.

As the bankruptcy for the Oregon Province is finalized, past sexual abuse committed by members of the church is once again in the news and it is time to revisit earlier discussions on appropriate measures moving forward. In the article "Claims against two former Jesuits have had huge impact on Seattle U and the larger Catholic community," Fr. Patrick Howell said that the perpetrators of the abuse make up for two to three percent of priests nationwide. The other 97 percent have suffered a major loss of trust with their public.

It is no doubt wrong for the many to suffer from the misdeeds of the few but, even as the abuse cases reach resolution, the Catholic Church as a whole is still not doing enough about these abuse cases. Anyone who sexually abuses a child is a criminal and should be treated as such. Howell said the police should be notified of abuse, so there are clearly some members of the Catholic community who understand the gravity of the situation but other individuals and diocese seem to be trying to protect abusers.

Multiple cases have been reported when a priest who was found to be abusive was reassigned to another position instead of being removed from the priesthood. This is intolerable. Abusive priests should be removed from the priesthood to protect vulnerable populations.

This is the kind of strong action that needs to be taken in order to save the reputation of the majority of priests who are innocent and genuinely concerned for the communities they serve. The church should protect its members who are doing good, forgive the ones who committed crimes, but also ensure they do not commit crimes again.

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