I have read so much about clergy abuse and heard the stories of precious survivors. The very foundation of society, of our history, is rooted in the church. Faith and family is the foundation of society. This crime of clergy sex abuse is so huge in our country and the world that it warrants more attention than what it has been given over the decades. Now is the time for change! In my own research, I realized four major actions of church leadership that support the predator priests.
- Church leaders push back against any reform to help children, victims of clergy sex abuse
- If the accused rapists are found credible, they will remove him from one parish and send them to another.
- If the offender is retired or will soon be retired, they continue to pay their retirement despite the crime.
- Convicted sex offenders are returned to the pulpit after credible charges or serving time.
Interestingly, a few days later I read a Los Angeles Times article that mentions a Catholic Church Seven Step Playbook. The purpose of this playbook appears to cover up the sexual assault crimes committed by clergy and to protect the predator clergy from any criminal judgments. Here are the seven steps listed.
Seven Step Playbook
- use euphemisms like “boundary issues” instead of “rape”
- use fellow clergy to conduct investigations
- send problem priests to church-run treatment centers
- decline to say why abusive priests were removed
- provide housing and living expenses for predator clergy
- transfer problem priests to new dioceses
- avoid reporting the priests to the police.
Victims of clergy abuse are not insane. They are not lying. They are not exaggerating how they were ignored, persecuted, re-victimized when they reported the crime against them. This list confirms the many struggles clergy abuse victims have had over decades for justice. And it’s the very reason this problem persists today. The playbook gives the clergy predator, criminal support from the highest authorities in the Catholic hierarchy. It also shows the lack of a serious lack of support for the innocent, the victim. To them, it’s crucially more important to save the credibility of the criminal and the church than to help heal the souls of innocent victims. Canon Law overrides civil law and that should not be so. Enough is enough. It’s time for real change. It’s time to seriously support survivors. Will that happen?
Finally, someone of authority and power in the Catholic Church is speaking up, telling the truth and acknowledging what survivors have known and experienced for decades. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich is a German cardinal of the Catholic Church and chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference. He serves as the Archbishop of Munich and Freising. Pope Benedict XVI elevated Marx to the cardinalate in a consistory on 20 November 2010. The article states “Marx is one of the most powerful men in the Catholic Church.”
Cardinal Marx stated, “Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed or not even created,” Marx, the archbishop of Munich and president of the German Bishops’ Conference, said during his half-hour speech. “Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated, and silence imposed on them.” ….”Such standard practices will make it clear that it is not transparency which damages the church, but rather the acts of abuse committed, the lack of transparency, or the ensuing coverup.”Survivors are grateful to Cardinal Marx for standing up and speaking out.
What will happen to the predator playbook? Will the church really making an effort to do the right thing? It appears that church leadership is moving in the right direction. Survivors have heard it all before but maybe this time it is different. What do you think? Time will tell.