Voice of the Faithful welcomes federal probe of Catholic clergy abuse in Pennsylvania

BOSTON, Mass., Oct. 19, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful, a movement of Roman Catholics working since 2002 to expose clergy abuse of minors, welcomes the U.S. Justice Department’s investigation into the decades-long coverup of clergy sexual abuse in Pennsylvania dioceses and hopes that such investigations expand nationwide.

The Church’s hierarchy has too long hidden crimes of abuse behind secret financial settlements and non-disclosure agreements, treating young victims as throwaway objects and sources of scandal rather than as God’s and society’s most vulnerable. They have violated God’s law, their own canon law and civil law in an attempt to portray the institution of the Church as above reproach and themselves as “handling the problem.”

“The priests who commit these crimes are criminals and sick, but the bishops who moved them around committed the bigger crime by exposing more and more children to abuse,” said VOTF president Mary Pat Fox. “They must be held accountable. The actions of the hierarchy not only caused additional harm to children, but also cast shadows on good priests doing good work and on Catholics everywhere.

Voice of the Faithful also is deeply saddened that failures by our bishops have passed the point where anyone has confidence that the Church can police itself. Instead we must rely on civil authorities to accomplish what the Church should have done decades, if not centuries, ago: act first to protect the faithful rather than to hide their crimes.

We cannot abide any excuses from prelates, such as following the generally accepted recommendations at the time for treatment of abusers, rather than reporting their crimes to police. Fox said, “When you read the latest grand jury report, you say to yourself―how can someone have this letter from the pastor of the parish about a priest that is abusing children, letters from parents and notes about meetings with the priest and make a decision to send the priest to rehab for a month and then reassign him to another parish! I wonder how a bishop could be so de-sensitized when reading something like this. Shouldn’t it seem just as outrageous to him as it does to me?”

In the wake of this latest effort by civil authorities, bishops have an opportunity to live up to their calling by throwing open secret files and owning up to the sins of the past. We are grateful for the great attention now paid to child protection throughout the U.S. Church, but the abuse that still haunts thousands of survivors and others affected over decades needs to be disclosed so that we all can heal and move on.

Voice of the Faithful Statement, Oct. 19, 2018
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity, and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.