Catholic bishop says church’s credibility on sexual abuse is ‘shredded’

The U.S. Catholic bishops’ point man on sexual abuse has said that the hierarchy’s credibility on fixing the problem is … Continued

The U.S. Catholic bishops’ point man on sexual abuse has said that the hierarchy’s credibility on fixing the problem is “shredded” and that the situation is comparable to the Reformation, when “the episcopacy, the regular clergy, even the papacy were discredited.”

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., last month told a conference of staffers who oversee child safety programs in American dioceses that he had always assumed that consistently implementing the bishops’ policies on child protection, “coupled with some decent publicity, would turn public opinion around.”

“I now know this was an illusion,” Conlon, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, said in an address on Aug. 13 to the National Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Coordinators Leadership Conference in Omaha, Neb.

His talk was published in the Aug. 30 edition of Origins, an affiliate of Catholic News Service.

Conlon said that the conviction of a high-ranking church official in Philadelphia for covering up clergy abuse and the upcoming trial of a bishop in Missouri on charges of failing to report a priest on suspicions of child abuse have contributed to a widespread impression that the bishops “have failed to keep their commitments.”

The bishop disputed that view, but said even close friends “turned almost hostile” over dinner recently when he said the hierarchy has adopted “an entirely different spirit of openness and accountability.”

Conlon told the conference that the bishops still needed to clarify emerging questions about how to deal with issues like child pornography and “boundary violations” in which church personnel might engage in inappropriate interactions with children that don’t yet cross the line into physical abuse.

But he said that the bottom line is that the bishops “are gravely weakened and in need of assistance” in developing policies and changing public perceptions. He told the child safety workers to think of themselves “as an extension of your bishop.”

“Our credibility on the subject of child abuse is shredded,” Conlon said. “You may have a better chance. People — in the church, outside the church, and hanging on the edge — need to know that real progress is being made.”

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  • NeilAllen1

    FACT: The Catholic church is unquestionably the world’s largest pedophile protection program.

    They admitted in their own report that there were 4,392 substantiated cases of child rape by Catholic priests, and all of the priests were protected and hidden. Many were moved when they were discovered.

    Bishop Conlon, continuing to hide the pedophilia facts, didn’t give the details about the Philly case. Msgr Lynn made a list of 35 known pedophile priests in 1994. Cardinal Bevilacqua told him to shred it (with the knowledge of 2 bishops and 2 other priests). These pedophile priests were allowed to roam free until 2011 when they were caught.

    Did Catholics vilify their pedophile protecting leaders? Of course not. They paid $11 million in legal fees to try to keep Msgr Lynn out of jail.

    Catholics protect their child rapists like Jeus would protect the child rape victims.

  • one nation

    The silence of the truth to protect the image has back fired. What a foolish policy for truth aways comes. How many reports have been shredded?

  • lmwkwhome

    The problem is that the bishops have kept their commitment, which is and has always been the the Church and not to those abused.

    This corruption of the word of Jesus starts and ends at the top. Pope Ratzinger and his predecessors have failed. The cardinals and bishops have failed. Some of them should be in prison, starting with Cardinal Law who luxuriates in Rome.