Editorial: Through their most grievous fault
It didn’t take long for the accusations to go from “the bishop let this happen” to “the bishop did this to me.”
It shouldn’t be that surprising. Bishops, after all, are priests who have gotten promotions.
For weeks, the anger against men like Bishop David Zubik and Cardinal Donald Wuerl in the wake of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro’s grand jury report detailing generations of sexual misconduct, molestation and rape has been because records were kept but not turned over for prosecution while credibly accused priests were moved from the parish where an incident occurred to a new location where no one knew.
The cycle was repeated like the antiphon sung after Scripture readings during Mass.
But on Wednesday, former Greensburg Bishop Anthony Bosco was accused of inappropriate touching of a nursing student while he was the chaplain and an instructor at Mercy Hospital School of Nursing in the 1960s.
On Friday, former Pittsburgh bishop and Philadelphia archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua was named in a lawsuit that included allegations he and two other priests assaulted a now 45-year-old woman. The abuse allegedly happened over an eight-year period. Bevilacqua is accused of groping the girl behind a partition in the lunchroom.
Both bishops have since died, Bevilacqua in 2012 at 87 and Bosco a year later at 85. Bevilacqua did not outlive the scandal, however, being named in a 2011 grand jury report for shuffling priests without handling the problems.
But maybe the problem is that, instead of looking for atonement or justice, the bishops were realizing they lived in stained glass houses.
It should likewise not be surprising that new allegations continue to stumble to light.
It would, however, be refreshing, if not faith-affirming, if just once, it was the church coming forward, unprompted and prostrate with shame, offering up the full story first and admitting a wrong before being boxed into a corner. They even have the language already prepared as part of the Mass.
Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa. Through my fault. Through my most grievous fault.