The Limits of Dealing with Sexual Abuse in the Church

My blog is where I write my reflections on things I’ve read that have seemed important to me.  Sometimes I simply quote what I read without saying what the significance is to me.

Having done some work on my church’s policies and procedures related to sexual misconduct in the church, I did find a couple of questions and answers posted by Rachel Zoll of The Associated Press dated June 24, 2012, to be pertinent.

She wrote about the Philadelphia Roman Catholic monsignor who was convicted of child endangering for failing to do enough to prevent child abuse in Priest’s conviction is a first, will more follow?

The existence of sexual abuse within the church raises many questions for which the church needs to respond.  Two questions which Zoll addressed seemed particularly interesting to me:

Q: Why is it so difficult to successfully prosecute bishops and other church leaders who mishandled abuse claims?

A: Most of the abuse cases that have come to light in recent years involve allegations of wrongdoing from decades ago — far beyond the statutes of limitation for criminal charges and often for civil lawsuits. Since 2002, when the scandal broke wide open with one case in the Archdiocese of Boston, a few prosecutors have struck deals with local dioceses to avoid indictment, and eight grand juries have investigated how local dioceses responded to abuse claims. All the grand jury reports found evidence that church officials consistently protected accused clergy more than children. However, only one such report found enough evidence within time limits to prosecute a diocesan official: the Philadelphia grand jury investigation last year that led to Lynn’s conviction.

Q: If government authorities can’t prosecute the diocesan officials, can’t the church at least hold them responsible?

A: The toughened child safety policy the bishops enacted in 2002 contains a discipline plan for abusive priests, but not for the bishops who failed to report them to police. Only the pope has authority over bishops, and none has been forced out for mishandling abuse cases from decades ago.

A list of other blogs I’ve posted on church sexual misconduct with links to them can be found at Blogs on Church Sexual Misconduct.

2 thoughts on “The Limits of Dealing with Sexual Abuse in the Church

  1. Pingback: Orthodox Collective

  2. Pingback: Blogs on Sexual Misconduct in the Church | Fr. Ted's Blog

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