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Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Abuse of Children in Atloona - One Key Sentence

There have been several news reports surrounding the work of a grand jury that has investigated the abuse of children by religious in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona.  In reading an article in today's edition of the Scranton Times (You can find the article HERE), one sentence stood out for me as basically summing up much of the problem:

"But in a court filing, his attorney said the accusations against the 80-year-old Bishop Adamec are unfounded. He required 14 priests accused under his watch to undergo psychiatric evaluation, the filing said. Nine of them were suspended or removed from ministry, and the five who were reinstated never re-offended, his attorney wrote."

Ponder that for a while.  Let it sink in.

Now if you or I had abused children, we should rightfully go to jail.  Period.  Yet what has been repeated over and over again is the fact that church hierarchy didn't see that as being applicable to their priests or other religious.  No, those folks were allowed to be somehow rehabilitated and then, as noted above, re-instated.  It's as if they were baseball players who pulled a ham-string.

Yes, they get couch time with a mental health professional, with the possibility of full reinstatement. 

If it were you or I, it's likely our only option would be rack time at a federal prison.

ANY BISHOP who fails to see the disconnect between consequences in the religious life vs the rest of the real world is engaged in a level of hubris that goes beyond words or comprehension.

Here's how it should work:  Any priest or religious who is accused of abusing children should be removed from their ministry and subject to investigation by civil authorities.  Only after the investigation has been completed should a bishop be allowed to take further actions of any sort.

I'll end this on a more position note:  I was an altar server for ten years, and in all that time I never, not once, ever experienced any form of misconduct from any priest I served with.  If anything, the actions of bishops in disconnecting consequences of actions from the religious to the civil world have done significant harm to those priests and religious who truly lived their vows.  That's a harm though that falls a far behind what has been suffered by the victims of clergy sexual abuse.

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