The Disturbing Truth

— Illinois Bishops Still Hiding Child-Molesting Clergy

Bishop Thomas Paprocki

By David Clohessy

Though I’m no longer a believer, in the wake of yet another jaw-dropping Catholic scandal, two Bible passages have coursed through my mind recently.

The first verse is John 8:32: “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Illinois’ six bishops are no doubt familiar with it. Like many profound bits of wisdom, it’s short and sweet, with absolutely no qualifiers, exceptions or excuses.

Why then do these well-educated prelates apparently think the actual wording is “Some of the truth shall set you free, but you get to determine how much and when and how to reveal it?”

That’s the only rational conclusion that explains why, after decades of horrific, widespread, well-documented child sex crimes and cover-ups, these bishops still refuse to come clean about child-molesting clergy.

Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul impressively documented this continuing duplicitousness in his 696-page, just-released report on Catholic child sex crimes and cover-ups across the state.

When this investigation was first launched five years ago, only two Illinois bishops posted a list of “substantiated Catholic cleric child sex abusers” on their websites. Within months, at the prodding of AG staffers, the state’s other four bishops did likewise, per the report. (Our group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, relentlessly prodded prelates to do this for over 20 years.)

At the probe’s outset, the church hierarchy provided on its websites the names of 103 priests who’ve been determined, by church institutions, to be “credibly accused” abusers.

During the investigation, after continued prodding from Raoul’s staff, the dioceses added 231 names to that list.

But that still didn’t capture all of the credibly accused priests. The report added yet another 160 clerics who worked in Illinois and have been substantiated as child sex abusers by Catholic sources but have not been disclosed as such by the Illinois dioceses. Now, 451 proven, admitted and/or credibly accused priests have been publicly identified (the total has been adjusted because some priests abused in multiple dioceses).

The second Bible verse that I can’t shake is this one, Luke 8:17: “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.”

Again, this one isn’t unknown to the Catholic hierarchy. (Non-Christians may prefer a more recent source for the same sentiment: Dr. Martin Luther King’s “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”)

Haven’t bishops — in Illinois and across the U.S. — learned that despite the best efforts of their high-priced lawyers and public relations professionals, victims are becoming increasingly empowered, civil attorneys are becoming more aggressive and creative, law enforcement is becoming more determined, and those who commit and conceal assaults on children are becoming “outed” more and more?

Why are predators’ names important?

First, kids’ safety. Many of the predators are deceased. But at least dozens, and perhaps hundreds, of proven, admitted and credibly accused child-molesting clerics — some with deeply rooted and extraordinarily powerful compulsion to assault youngsters — now live or work around largely unsuspecting families, friends, co-workers and even relatives. Though many are elderly, it’s dangerous to assume that serial offenders have somehow been magically and permanently cured of these nearly uncontrollable urges. Releasing their names — and ideally, their photos, work histories and last known whereabouts — will enable parents, police, prosecutors and the public to safeguard the vulnerable from them.

Second, survivors’ healing. Any therapist will tell you that many survivors feel vindication and validation (and sleep better at night) when they see that their abuser has been publicly exposed and is thus less apt to be able to molest again.

Third, the disclosure of these names is the clearest way to tell whether bishops have “reformed.”

More than 20 years ago, every U.S. bishop formally pledged to be “transparent” about clergy sexual abuse. That transparency is most important when it comes to the predators themselves. (Parents can best protect their kids if they know who and where the child molesters are. That’s why virtually every state has a sex offender registry.)

So if even now these men are parsing words, splitting hairs, making excuses so they can justify disclosing fewer names of credibly accused child molesters, then it’s very likely they’re violating other promises they’ve made about better screening, more psychological testing, paying for victims’ counseling, and truly cooperating with law enforcement.

Raoul’s report discloses the identities of 149 clerics who were or are in Illinois, have been deemed “credibly accused” of abuse by their bishop or other church supervisors, yet are listed on no Illinois Catholic website as “credibly accused.”

Think of it this way: The truth not only sets us free, it safeguards kids and also helps victims. Many current and former rank-and-file Catholics would submit that it also begins to restore some confidence in the higher echelons of the institution.

I mentioned I no longer have a faith life. “Have you lost your faith?” I’m sometimes asked. “No, it was stolen from me,” I reply, “by the predator priest who assaulted me and his corrupt supervisors who betrayed me.”

There are thousands like me across this country, enduring far worse than a lack of spirituality. Many are unemployed, underemployed, unemployable, agoraphobic, depressed, isolated, addicted, ashamed suicidal and suffering what the Tribune rightly calls the “unspeakable pain” that results from devastating attacks by once trusted priests during childhood and almost equally heinous betrayals by once revered bishops during adulthood.

We deserve better. And our kids deserve a safer and healthier childhood.

Neither they nor us are getting that from Catholic bishops who largely, like their predecessors and their predecessors, remain far too heavily fixated on protecting their careers, comfort and reputations rather than protecting their flocks.

Complete Article HERE!

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