Pastor’s Reflection for November 8, 2015
Spotlight, the movie, was released this past Friday. It is about The Boston Globe’s coverage of the child abuse scandal in the church. The investigative unit at The Globe reported a widespread pattern of abuse and cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston. I feel that it is important to see the whole picture for a better understanding. First of all, any child abuse is horrendous. It is a shame that priests entrusted with the tender care of children violated them and caused grievous harm. Why was this cover- up allowed to happen? A big reason points to the culture in the 50’s – 70’s. Do you ever look back at some of the pictures of your past? I can’t believe the clothes I wore or the haircuts of that time but in those days, it was the fashion. Additionally, in those days, if a priest committed anything that would bring scandal to the Church, it was hushed up by the Church, the police, the families, and anyone in authority. Child abuse was looked upon as a sin that was committed by the priest. The bishop would send the priest on retreat, he would confess his sin and then be reassigned and told not to act out again. Those in authority did not see this as a sickness at that time and did not understand that the perpetrator needed to be away from children. A bishop never intended for the priest to go out and molest again. He was ignorant of the behavior as were many at that time. Unfortunately some of those in authority failed in their responsibility to act correctly as we grew in the knowledge of such behavior. It is important to understand that the Church is now in a very different place than at the time of the tragic occurrences of abuse in the past.
There was a convocation for clergy on Tuesday, October 20, and we met with the Cardinal. I wish to share with you some of the statistics that were given to us. In May of 2011, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice published a summary of the history of the occurrence of child abuse in the life of the Church. The report documented that there was a steady increase in reported cases of clergy abuse in the U.S. from the 1950’s through the 1970’s. Abuse cases peaked in the mid 70’s and began to decline every year thereafter. 80% of all known clergy abuse cases occurred before 1985. Presently, victims who are now reporting cases of abuse are almost exclusively reporting events that happened before 2002. Also, the work of the Archdiocesan Review Board provides an important demonstration of our commitment to the safety of children and justice for those who are affected by the occurrence of abuse. The Review Board is made up primarily of lay persons with experience and professional expertise in the areas of sexual abuse, law enforcement, child psychiatry, social work and the needs and concerns of the survivor community. Today, all clergy, employees and volunteers are required to be trained in Protecting God’s Children. We are focused on child safety and creating safe environments.
All claims that the Archdiocese have paid (since 2003 is 215 million) were generated from real estate property sales, rental income, and insurance funds. Neither the Catholic Appeal nor parish funds are being used to pay settlements.
We, as a Church, continue to ask forgiveness from those who were harmed by the Church. We pray that our efforts may contribute to the protection of children in all settings and circumstances. We ask that those who left the Church to consider returning. Do not let the sins of a very small percentage of priests disrupt your relationship with Jesus by neglecting to receive Eucharist. In truth, you empower the abusers to not harm you physically but spiritually. As an adult, you have the power not to make yourself the victim.
May we all continue our journey to the kingdom with love for others.
I will be available for confession this week on Tuesday, November 10, from 2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
May Jesus continue to shepherd you in all of your needs.
God love you,