Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Complete Confession

$12.7 million dollars will be culled from the assets of the Chicago Archdiocese and given to the victims of clerical sex abuse. Look for "For Sale" signs on church property near you.

More than money was offered as compensation to the victims. Francis Cardinal George also released a complete record of the church's investigations, and frankly revealed that his bishops had engaged in an intricate dance to protect their priests, even if it meant further damaging the youngest members of the flock.

Unlike other settlement decrees, Chicago's spiritual leader did not insist on confidentiality. To prove that confession is good for the soul, he released a copy of his own deposition, given in the most recent case of clerical sex abuse at St. Agatha Church.

Here's what I did wrong, the Cardinal stated without guile or obfuscation. This is what happened on my watch, this is what is my responsibility. This is what I learned from the mistakes I made.

Here is where trusted clerics hid the evidence, here is how Joseph Bennett was able to abuse children and then abuse even more. Here is where the church hierarchy closed ranks against the faithful, the very flock that Jesus commanded them to tend with love.

The vicar for priests coached Father Bennett to deny allegations, the Archdiocese of Chicago now admits. In spite of detailed evidence from the victims, he was not removed from a parish that didn't even know about the credible allegations. In spite of recommendations to remove him, he was put under the watchful eye of a monitor who just happened to be a close friend.

The bishops wanted to be fair to the accused, but there were no lay people making calls as to what was fair and what was dangerously misguided. After the apologies, will there be a shake-up in management? Will there be openings for those who aren't as concerned with protecting their fellow priests as they are with protecting and preserving the Catholic Church?

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