Pedophile Priests and Those Who Protect Them [OPINION]
The Roman Catholic Church is rocked by yet another child sex abuse scandal. This one involves every diocese in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, more than 300 priests and potentially thousands of children.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro says church officials at all levels were involved in covering up the abuse for decades. “The cover-up was sophisticated. And all the while, shockingly, church leadership kept records of the abuse and the cover-up," he told reporters. "Above all else, they protected their institution at all cost."
An 884-page grand jury report two years in the making details some of the horrors experienced by the young abuse victims. Shapiro discussed some of the findings during a news conference.
"One boy was forced to stand on a bed in a rectory, strip naked and pose as Christ on the cross for the priests," he said. "They took photos of their victim, adding them to a collection of child pornography which they produced and shared on church grounds."
The Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandal shook the world in 2002, resulting in the jailing of several priests with ties to Southeastern Massachusetts and the disgraceful reassignment of Cardinal Bernard Law. Since that time, the scandal has gone global.
The abuse of children is abhorrent. The sheer volume of priests involved in this behavior is a stunning indictment of the church and its leadership. The fact that church leaders put the protection of the institution ahead of the safety of the children is criminal. The Catholic Church has been a sanctuary for pedophiles for decades.
Any Cardinal, Bishop, or church administrator found responsible for reassigning or covering for an abusive priest or anyone affiliated with the church should be jailed. The statute of limitations for prosecuting offenders must be eliminated.
The Vatican must establish a no-nonsense investigation into current church practices, and a strict review process must be implemented at all levels of the church to monitor the behavior of all church officials at all levels.
The Catholic Church has failed to take this crisis seriously and that has hurt the institution's credibility with many of the faithful. It will take a long time and a lot of hard work to restore the trust.
Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.