Editorial: Diocesan abuse department can’t become bureaucratic | TribLIVE.com

Editorial: Diocesan abuse department can’t become bureaucratic


“If only there were more bureaucracy.”

File that under things no one has ever said.

On Thursday, Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik announced a new department to address sexual abuse claims and recovery. The Secretariat for the Protection of Children, Youth and Vulnerable Adults is open for business as of Monday.

For the moment, let’s ignore the decades of bishops in Pennsylvania obscuring reported abuse and shuttling offending priests from parish to parish. Let’s just appreciate that things are actually getting done to address the very serious problem going forward.

According to Zubik, the new department brings together people who have worked with abuse victims within the diocese before but puts them all under a single umbrella to get the job done more effectively.

It’s not a new idea. It’s basically the same thing President George W. Bush did after the 9-11 terror attacks when he shuffled the decks in a number of departments, pulling out an agency here and a bureau there to create the Department of Homeland Security. Today, DHS is the third largest department in the federal government and has an annual budget of about $40 billion.

There is no question at all that the diocese and the church as a whole must take the damage already done seriously and must take steps to prevent children from being victimized going forward. Those things must happen. Full stop.

But now it has to be on all of us to keep it from happening again.

Let’s go back and remember why it is necessary. It isn’t just because there was horrifying abuse of children going back 70 years and across the entire state, as detailed in Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury report in August.

It’s that it was institutional.

It isn’t that it was happening outside the view of the bishops. They knew. It isn’t that there wasn’t a procedure for how to handle it. There was. The procedure involved “secret archives” and locking away the information, hoping no one would ever find out.

Zubik’s creation of the secretariat is a good step. Publicizing the new department and naming the people who will staff it and what they will do is, too.

But the parishioners and the public can never forget why it is there and must keep the spotlight on it to prevent secrets from ever again hiding in bureaucratic shadows.

Categories: Opinion | Editorials
TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.