Some Thoughts Today
Its complex. Its difficult to navigate. I do not have the answers. I do have some thoughts...
The Archdiocese of Galveston – Houston, along with all diocese of the State of Texas, are preparing to release a list of clergy and religious from the last 60 years who have been both accused of sexual misconduct with a minor AND whose accusation has been verified and deemed credible. The Bishops of our state have promised transparency and have hired a reputable, public firm to review their files to assure that the released lists are accurate. Missing from the lists will be those accused without credible evidence. We should applaud the Bishops for their commitment to justice and stand behind them. It is a giant step forward.
Today’s statement by the AG of Illinois is a bit disturbing. The headlines say that the Church has left off its list hundreds of names. In truth, the released lists from the dioceses of Illinois do not contain the names of those who have been accused but “without credible evidence.” As it should be. When any person - clergy, school teacher, industry leader – any person - is accused and the preponderance of evidence is missing and the accusation proven to be false, that person’s reputation is at stake. In fact, the United States judicial system and the canonical judicial system of the Church are obligated, are bound by duty, to protect the reputation of the innocent. It is a right guaranteed by our United States Constitution and a right woven in the Church’s Canon Law.
While we get better, while we move forward with greater transparency, while we form and train clergy and all members of our communities about the fundamental injustices and deep sorrows of sexual misconduct with minors, while we do all this and live through the pain and are humbled at every step, we are given the opportunity to be reformed, recast as faithful disciples and as a faithful, merciful, compassionate Body of Christ. Even while we are fully open and fully cooperative with civil authorities and make public the names of those who have misused their authority and caused great harm, there is a fundamental justice – both civil and canonical – that holds us to protect the innocent – those who have been accused without “credible evidence”, those “unjustly accused.” Their names, their reputations and their life long, faithful, ministry among the People of God are a gift to the Church.
Fr. Bob Barras
on Thursday, December 20, 2018 at 11:15AM