Catholic Culture Solidarity
Catholic Culture Solidarity

Has a Massachusetts court done what the Boston archdiocese was condemned for doing?

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jan 06, 2016

What caused the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church? Too many bishops chose to protect abusive priests rather than innocent children.

Now—right here in Massachusetts, where the whole mess exploded some thirteen unlucky years ago—the state’s highest court has made the same appalling decision: to protect the predators at the expense of the children.

The Supreme Judicial Court has ruled that many known molesters must be removed from the sex-offender registries. Why? The Boston Herald explains: “The SJC ordered a higher burden of proof to be used in ranking the likelihood sex offenders will strike again.”

We never know that a convicted molester will act out again. Isn’t that roughly the same line of thinking that many bishops offered as an excuse for inaction a decade ago? They had been told by therapists that a priest was no longer a threat to children, so they put him back in parish work. The danger to children was obvious, but the bishops put the rights of the accused priests first.

As now the SJC puts the rights of the convicted rapists first. So now your little children might be playing in the back yard of someone who has been convicted of crimes involving sexual violence. That’s the price you will pay—or maybe your poor children will pay—to satisfy the SJC’s qualms.

The Boston Herald story exposing this problem appeared on January 6: the exact anniversary of the famous Boston Globe “Spotlight” story that ignited the scandal, won the Pulitzer, and spawned the award-winning movie. I’m looking forward to the Globe editorials that denounce the SJC decision, for exactly the same reasons that the Globe—rightly—denounced the Boston archdiocese. But I’m not holding my breath.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: bruno.cicconi7491 - Jun. 02, 2016 2:30 PM ET USA

    Likewise in the story of Joseph and his brothers, Joseph first tries his brothers to see if there is repentance in them. It is when Judah, the brother who originally suggested to kill him, offers himself for the good of another brother, Benjamin, that Joseph finally reveals the mercy that he was eager to give.

  • Posted by: skall391825 - Jan. 09, 2016 3:36 PM ET USA

    "What caused the sex-abuse scandal within the Catholic Church? Too many bishops chose to protect abusive priests rather than innocent children." Yes, but the genesis was a perfect storm of homosexual prelates, clericalism, disobedience to Rome's proscription against permitting homosexuals into seminaries, and false interpretations of the "Spirit of Vatican II". Clerical arrogance/disobedience and homosexuality in seminaries still have not disappeared.

  • Posted by: stpetric - Jan. 06, 2016 6:02 PM ET USA

    Even more to the point of considering the rights of accused priests first, the bishops acted on the advice of professional in the field.