Editorial: Bishops right with priest suspensions, disclosures
Priests are people, too.
They do good things and bad things and sometimes very bad things. They make sacrifices and they make mistakes. Priests are no more likely to lie, cheat, steal or hurt someone than a teacher or a banker, a barber or a chef.
The statewide — and to be honest, global — Catholic church sex abuse issue has not reached the breadth and scope that it has because priests are evil. They aren’t, or at least, they are no more evil than any of the rest of us.
The problem was the organization. It was the protection. It was the lies.
It wasn’t that no one reported child sex abuse for 70 years. They did. It wasn’t that parents didn’t demand something be done. They did. It wasn’t that investigations were not conducted. They were.
It was that all of it was kept in the dark.
In the months since the grand jury report release that detailed decades of abuse and cover-up, the dioceses of Pennsylvania have adamantly pushed a message of change. These things wouldn’t happen again. There were policies. There were procedures. There were protocols and safeguards.
It’s hard to live in a world without any crime and abuse because we live in a world filled with people. What we need is a world where we try to stop it when we can and deal with it where we must. Both demand transparency and honesty. Those seem hard to find after so much secrecy.
Then this week both Pittsburgh and Greensburg dioceses released information on newly accused priests just days apart. In Pittsburgh, the diocese suspended a priest from ministry while it investigates allegations of inappropriate contact with women. In Greensburg, law enforcement is investigating new allegations of abuse of a minor 15 years ago.
The difference this time is that nothing was stuck in a file and locked in a box. The situations are being addressed openly.
And nothing is burning down. Why should it? This is exactly what should have happened all along.
Catholics have been trained since childhood in more than just trusting priests. There is confessing a sin, asking for absolution and performing penance to make it right. Catholics would no doubt help correct their church’s problems if they were invited, but the honest disclosure has to come first.
Priests are people. The church can be wrong. Sometimes the congregation has to find forgiveness for their leaders.
Acknowledging those truths isn’t sacrilegious.