Ethics & Religion
October 25, 2018
More States Investigating Catholic Crimes
By Mike McManus
Pennsylvania's Attorney General reported that 301 priests had molested
more than 1,000 young people, the Attorneys General of a dozen states
and Washington D.C. have launched similar investigations.
D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine began an investigation of sexual abuse
by Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Washington which includes both
the city and Maryland suburbs. Pope Francis accepted resignations from
the last two Cardinals in Washington - Donald Wuerl and Theodore
A Pennsylvania Grand Jury reported that when he was Bishop of Pittsburgh
for 18 years, Wuerl did remove some abusive priests, but allowed others
to continue in their parishes. McCarrick, Wuerl's predecessor in
Washington, was removed from ministry in June amid allegations he
sexually abused a teenager decades ago.
During an August appearance on a radio show, Racine said his office's
phones were "burning up" with calls urging him to investigate
wrongdoing. He set up an online portal for victims to report abuse by
D.C. clergy. Ironically, McCarrick was one of the country's most
outspoken church leaders fighting abuse when scandals erupted in Boston
Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh announced he is investigating the
abuse of children in the Baltimore Archdiocese. The Archbishop told his
priests, "It is clear we are a church in crisis and that crisis is one
of trust. It is my hope and prayer that this independent review...will
bring about greater trust in the Church."
New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has issued subpoenas for all
eight Catholic dioceses in the state, and set up a hot line for anyone
to report abuses. The New Jersey Attorney General quickly followed,
announcing a criminal task force investigating sexual abuse by Catholic
priests. It will be led by Robert Laurino who is creating a Grand Jury
and has set up a hot line for victims.
U.S. Bishops will hold a weeklong retreat in January in Chicago to
discuss the growing scandal.
The Archdiocese of Boston has already paid $10 million to 86 victims of
sexual abuse by just one of its priests!
Unfortunately, due to statutes of limitation on sex crimes, almost all
of the crimes documented by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury, cannot lead to
criminal prosecutions. The situation is similar in New York. In many
states, the initiative cannot come from the state Attorney General, but
must come from local District Attorneys.
In Nebraska, the state's three diocese have received an inquiry from the
Attorney General. The Dioceses of Lincoln and Grand Island are
cooperating, but Omaha did not immediately respond.
A Washington Post story asserted that the result of state probes "could
cause many U.S. Catholics to leave the church, as happened after a
national probe in Ireland. "People are much less inclined to belong to
institutions that are suspect," said Judge Michael Mertz, a federal
judge in Ohio. "There's no doubt that a lot people have left because of
doubting the integrity of this particular institution."
It is more than doubt. It is anger. "We have been betrayed," said Mary
Pat Fox, a parishioner in Cardinal Wuerl's archdiocese. "We are angry
and frustrated and we want action." They are focusing their anger and
anguish on the bishops - even more than the perpetrator priests. They
are demanding that the church step in and hold negligent bishops to
account, the Washington Post reports.
At a conference organized by Voices of the Faithful, a group formed by
Catholic laypeople in 2002 to advocate for victims and for church
reform, Ms. Fox, who is president of the group, asserted, "Waiting to
see if they are caught in these civil investigations is not the answer.
The church must take action to correct the situation now and remove the
bishops that have moved priests around."
Some bishops are trying to get ahead of the new wave of scandal. In
recent weeks, many have announced that they are releasing the names of
priests in their dioceses who have been credibly charged.
This is a step that abuse victims and advocates have requested for
years. Tucson took that step in 2002, but few dioceses have followed
Tucson's lead. Texas dioceses are considering it.
In Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone released a list of 42 accused
priests. But local TV reporters investigated and found that he had
withheld many names from his secret archives. The actual number was more
like 96 - more than double his released list.
The Attorneys General of Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska and New Mexico are
There is hope.
Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and
a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to
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