Dear Roman Catholic Church - Please stop saying that childhood sexual abuse in your ranks is in the past...
Today a Grand Jury in Pennsylvania released a report showing over 300 predator priests in just that state and detailing that there are over 1,000 victims. From my work as a lawyer for childhood sexual abuse victims who have sued priests and the roman catholic church in Missouri, I know that if those are the cases that the church are willing to admit as "credibly accused," there are likely many more than that.
More importantly, people need to know that the abuse scandal in the church is not a story of the past. It is not something from which the church has learned and improved. The scandal is not anywhere near over.
CNN quoted a Pennsylvania Bishop today as stating that the grand jury report "will be a reminder of the grave failings that the church must acknowledge and for which it must seek forgiveness." What a poignant statement. It sounds like he has empathy for the victims of the past. But, listen closer - his statement is really propaganda by the church to subtly convince people that child abuse within the church is a thing of the past. He talks about it in the past tense...it will be a reminder of the grave failings... Notice he didn't say "we must do better..." in the present tense. The Church has been doing this for years - with each new child who comes forward they say - "that was in the past, we're better now." This has been a repeated mantra for many years now and it's time to notice.
The thing is, childhood sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church is still happening and the church is not doing enough to stop it. As long as the church refuses to deal with the power and control issues that are ingrained in many priests, abuse will continue. (Has anyone noticed that the Protecting God's Children program that the Church uses to teach parents about abuse doesn't even mention that the Priest himself may be the abuser?)
Until they truly learn to punish those involved in protecting the institution at the expense of children, it will perpetuate. (The Church still asks people to report priest abuse to the hierarchy of the church instead of going to the police.)
Until the Church stops using legal tactics that brutally harm and re-victimize those who come forward to speak up against abuse, the scandal will never be in the past. (Seriously, meet the attorneys that the church hires - they are the same ones who represent predatory mortgage lenders and corporate environmental waste violators).
The Pope may talk a good game, but until he changes the action of the bishops on the ground who still use scorched earth tactics to discredit victims and protect predator priests, the predator priests will still abuse without fear of punishment. Although I was a prosecutor at the State and then Federal level for 10 years and specialized in childhood sexual abuse, many of the worst child predators I have ever seen walk free today because of church protection - and they're still getting church protection.
I'm sorry to report that child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is not a thing of the past. The Church has merely gotten a better public relations team in place that has taught them to fight hard and speak in the past tense. Take notice.
Nicole Gorovsky, Gorovsky Law LLC, 314 272 3255, Nicole@GorovskyLaw.com
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