Last Thursday I submitted a letter to The New York Times. It wasn’t published, and I don’t think it will be. Thus, I’m sharing it here:
To the Editor:
“Pope Creates Tribunal for Bishop Negligence in Child Sexual Abuse Cases” (June 10) discusses Pope Francis’ approval of a new board that can hold bishops accountable for concealing allegations of abuse against children. I applaud this announcement as well as the criminal charges filed against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for mishandling sexual abuse claims (“Catholic Archdiocese in Minnesota Charged Over Sex Abuse by Priest;” June 5). These efforts are a long overdue first step at holding upper-level diocesan officials accountable for their lack of action, though I understand the skepticism of victim-survivors and their advocates who ask if it will really make a difference
I think it will. Scholarship by my colleagues and I suggests these cover-ups are not isolated to bishops in this one archdiocese; rather, it is systemic. Retrospective analyses of files of abusive priests in Milwaukee, Chicago, Los Angeles, and a Benedictine Abbey in Minnesota provide ample evidence that some bishops knew of these offenses and did little to rectify them. I am hopeful that this policy and these criminal charges will help prevent future wrongs.