Despite recent cases in which Roman Catholic bishops failed to report or suspend priests accused of child sexual abuse, the bishops head into a meeting in Seattle on Wednesday proposing no significant revisions to the abuse prevention policies they passed in 2002 at the height of the scandal. The bishops had promised that they would take a hard look at their policies in light of new accusations in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo., that have shaken many Catholics, not just in those dioceses, but across the country as well. The incidents have led some Catholics to question whether bishops are complying with their own policies, and whether there is any accountability for bishops who do not.
In the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert W. Finn admitted last month that he allowed a priest who had taken pornographic pictures of parish girls to continue celebrating Mass and having access to children. Bishop Finn also acknowledged he did not read a letter sent to his office a year earlier by a Catholic school principal warning that parents, teachers and staff members suspected that the priest, the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, was a child molester. Father Ratigan was arrested on May 19 on child pornography charges.... In Philadelphia, a grand jury recently found that Cardinal Justin Rigali allowed 37 priests accused of abuse or inappropriate behavior to remain in ministry. The grand jury also indicted the former head of the archdiocesan office for clergy, Msgr. William Lynn, on charges of endangering the welfare of children—the first such indictment of a senior church official.
In both of these dioceses, the bishops never informed their sexual abuse “review boards” about the cases. In his two years in the diocese of Gallup, N.M., Bishop James S. Wall never met with his review board even though the diocese was supposedly conducting a review of abuse cases, a situation first reported by the Gallup Independent newspaper. The review boards, composed primarily of lay people with expertise in the field of child abuse, were supposed to be among the most significant measures the bishops adopted in 2002, known as the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.... The question of what to do about bishops who do not follow the charter is not addressed in the revisions. The charter says only that bishops should apply “fraternal correction” to one another.
Child Rape, Inc., is meeting in Seattle. And New York's archbishop is gravely concerned—not about all those child rapists running around in Roman collars. No, no. Timothy Dolan is worried about marriage equality coming to New York State, and taking time away from ignoring child rape to lobby New York legislators. Assholes. Take it away, Tim!