The 2018 has not been good for the Roman Catholic Church as a number of cardinals and bishops have been forced to resign over sexual abuse of children and minors or for covering up for predatory priests. This week, in the wake of the criminal conviction of the highest ranking prelate in Australia and the 3rd highest official at the Vatican and the launch of criminal investigations by federal and state prosecutors, a California bishop has been forced to resign due to credible accusations of sex abuse and the Illinois Attorney General blasted the Illinois diocese of failing to disclose close to 350 accused predator priests. Despite voluminous quantities of crocodile tears, the Vatican has failed to take effective measures to clean house of bishops and cardinals implicated in cover-ups, As a result, many are left with the impression that the Catholic clergy feel the equivalent of a droit du seigneur - historically, a supposed legal or customary right of a feudal lord to have sexual relations with a vassal's bride on her wedding night - when comes to sexually abusing children and youths. A piece in the Washington Post looks at the latest developments in Illinois. Here are excerpts:
Illinois' attorney general’s office Wednesday accused the Catholic Church of dramatically lowballing the scope of allegations of clergy sex abuse, saying her investigators found at least 500 additional accusations against priests and clergy — compared with the 185 cases the church has found credible.
[S]he alleged in a statement that a probe her office opened into the Church in August is finding that Catholic leaders are failing to dig deep into the guilt of their clerics. The probe “has revealed that allegations frequently have not been adequately investigated by the dioceses or not investigated at all,” the statement said.
Madigan’s office is one of more than a dozen to open state investigations this year into Catholic handling of abuses cases. But Wednesday, some experts said, seemed to up the ante because it pushed on a controversial topic that has angered Catholics from left to right -- whether the Church, under fire since the early 2000s, is really coming clean with its lists.
The problem: There is no standard within the Catholic Church for what constitutes “credible" accusations, and many Catholics and members of the public are skeptical that church leaders are coming forward to civil authorities and the public with everything they have.
Madigan, said longtime survivor advocate Terry McKiernan, is trying to force the church to produce lists that are more transparent and meaningful. Even in recent weeks, McKiernan said Wednesday, some lists around the country are being shown to not have included names that they should have.
“There’s a big debate about what ‘credible’ means, but these lists are clearly incomplete in a number of ways. Or at least there is lag before names are added,” he said. “Let’s face it, an allegation is an allegation, and very few are unsubstantiated if the diocese does the work to look into it."
Dioceses are dragging their feet on substantiating allegations "because they don’t want to acknowledge the crisis they’re in, ”McKiernan said.
Earlier Wednesday, the Vatican announced that a Los Angeles bishop was being removed after a review of a child sex abuse charge from the 1990s.
Since Madigan’s probe began in August, her spokeswoman said, the six Illinois dioceses have had to add 45 new names to their various lists of credibly accused priests. This reflects a lack of candor, said the office’s communications director, Maura Possley, and it’s why Madigan publicized the number of accusations.
Cardinals, bishops and other top clergy say they want to make amends and help victims heal, but the church’s glacial pace of revealing allegations runs counter to that stated goal, said Towey, who was a lawyer and a Bush administration official before taking the helm at Ave Maria University, one of the nation’s most prominent conservative Catholic colleges.
"It won’t start until all the names are out there. The church has to clean up its act,” Towey said. “The fact is – this is a mess of the Church’s creation and all of us, laity and ordained, have to come together and fix it.”