Through the numerous responses we have received since our Catholic Whistleblowers website became public, it has become evident that there are many Catholics who want to see some decisive action to protect our children from harm. Since the Dallas Charter, bishops have made repeated promises to do better, but cover-ups have continued right up to the present day. When bishops shield abusive priests instead of immediately taking action to remove them from ministry, one abuser can have multiple victims. That is not acceptable! It’s not just the abusers who should be removed. Every bishop who fails to protect children from abusers should also be removed from office. That, however, is easier said than done! Many heroic individuals have been trying for years to get their bishops to care more about the wellbeing of children than they do about their reputations, and they have been badly maligned every step of the way.
It is the hope of the Catholic Whistleblowers that we can motivate the Catholic laity to all join hands and work together to protect our children. Bishops are quick to assure us that they have the problem under control and that there are very few current cases of abuse. What they fail to acknowledge is that it often takes a victim of sexual abuse twenty or more years to speak out about his/her abuse, so God only knows what is really going on at this moment. What we do know, however, is that numerous bishops have been less than forthright in their accounts of current abuse, with no structure in place to verify their less-than-transparent accounting. The problem will not be resolved by the bishops. In spite of all the negative publicity some of them have received for covering up child rapists, they never hold one another accountable. Instead of relying on them, we all, as members of the Body of Christ, need to work together to force our bishops to realize that they were called to serve us—the Church—and that they are accountable to us for their ongoing failures to protect our children from criminal abuse. For them to remain in office after allowing such criminal activity to occur is an abomination.
There are many reform minded groups with a long list of issues that need to be addressed. The abuse of children, however, is not just one more issue. It is a horrendous crime! But covering it up is even worse. While the act itself is usually the result of a serious psychological disorder, covering it up and allowing those dastardly deeds to continue is nothing short of diabolical. Regardless of whether we are liberal or conservative, progressive or traditional, all people of conscience must join hands and work together to hold our bishops accountable for protecting our children. As we prepare for a synod to discuss family life, this topic should be everyone’s top priority.