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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,931
August 23, 2018
Knights of Columbus Could Save the Church
By Mike McManus

Carl Anderson, the Supreme Knight or CEO of the Knights of Columbus, said the sexual abuse that has surfaced with Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report "are cause for grave concern among Catholics and Brother Knights. Many feel deeply betrayed by those whom they long held in high regard."

"These sins of commission and omission have sent the Church we love...and the Church that Jesus Christ established - into convulsions. Sadly, the disgrace not only is borne by the perpetrators, it hurts us all, as does the silence of shepherds who have ignored the cries of their flocks."

As spokesman for 1.2 million American Knights of Columbus, Anderson asserted that "in addition to devastating criminal acts, we have seen many other moral failings by clergy...Too often the needs of victims have been subordinated to a distorted sense of mercy toward the perpetrators or an instinct for self-preservation."

To his credit, Anderson proposed that the Knights of Columbus "will have an important role to play in rebuilding the Church." How? He felt the Knights should "work for repentance," that "should include a full accounting of the misdeeds by those who have committed them."

No, that's too vague an answer. Archbishop McCarrick might apologize for his molesting of boys, seminarians and priests. Similar public confessions could come from each of the 301 priests who were identified as molesters in Pennsylvania of more than 1,000 boys. The Grand Jury report said the number could be several thousand young people who were sexually abused by their priests.

But what about the thousands of molesting priests who have not yet been identified in Ohio, Texas, California, Louisiana and other states?

No institution can reform itself by itself.

An outside investigation is urgently needed in each state. However, the Knights of Columbus could call upon the Attorney General of each state, and ask for a similar Grand Jury investigation in the 49 other states. The Pennsylvania investigation took months.

The Knights of Columbus are respected leaders in every community and state in America. Their call for investigation and prosecution of any priests who abused young people in their parishes, and of any bishops who covered up the crimes of their priests - would be responded to by the Attorney Generals of most states.

To his credit. Supreme Knight Carl Anderson called for a "full and complete investigation of sexual abuse led by an independent commission that includes laity, complete transparency by the Catholic hierarchy into all matters of criminal sexual misconduct past or future; an expansion of the zero tolerance policy to include sexual activity or misconduct by clerics including bishops, and by seminarians."

However, Anderson did not suggest who should lead that investigation. I do not think it should be by Catholic bishops or any groups they might appoint.

I believe the best answer is the model we have seen work effectively in Pennsylvania, where a Grand Jury appointed by the state's Attorney General, spent months investigating abuses.

The Knights should also call for two other major legal reforms:

First, statutes of limitations as in Pennsylvania that victims of child abuse must file civil suits against molesters by age 30, or by age 50 for criminal prosecution - should be eliminated. Often it takes decades for those who have been victimized to have the courage to accuse their molesters. State statutes of limitations should be eliminated for sexual abuse.

Second, and most important, celibacy should be made optional, so that married men could serve as priests. Peter was a married man (whose mother-in-law was healed by Jesus).

The celibacy requirement attracts homosexuals and child molesters to the priesthood. A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest who left the priesthood to marry, and wrote three books on celibacy, reported that "between 6.5% and 9% of Catholic clergy in the U. S. involve themselves sexually with minors." He also estimated that half of all priests are sexually active.

In Protestant denominations, most pastors are married, and no denomination is plagued by clergy molesting children.

Finally, the Knights of Columbus should ask the Attorneys General of 49 states to appoint Grand Juries modeled on that created in Pennsylvania, to investigate sexual abuse within the church.

Carl Anderson, CEO of the Knights has pledged "We will assist priests, bishops and our fellow Catholics in helping the Church chart a course for the future that puts Christ at the center."

Begin with Grand Juries.


Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. To read past columns, go to Hit Search for any topic.

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