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Philadelphia story

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Sep 22, 2005

Where have we heard this before?

In a lengthy, combative answer to a scathing grand-jury report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia argues that the criticism of its response to clerical abuse is unfair, because:

  • only a small percentage of priests molested children
  • sexual abuse was a problem in other institutions, too-- not just the Catholic Church
  • the grand-report is "focusing only on salacious details" (instead of saying nice things? in a grand jury report?)
  • back then people didn't know that molesters can't be "cured" by psychiatric treatment
  • and anyway lots of clerical molesters were apparently "cured" by treatment
  • the archdiocese cooperated fully with investigators (even if investigators thought otherwise)
  • the archdiocese had excellent policies in place for dealing with clerical molesters
  • and anyway those policies have been completely overhauled

Above all, the archdiocese absolutely positively did not reassign priests who were guilty of sexual abuse. Never ever. Except sometimes. And "to its knowledge no priest, subsequent to the medical evaluation and reassignment, engaged in any additional act of criminal sexual abuse with a minor." [Emphasis added, just to show how sweeping the archdiocesan statement is.]

Yes, we've heard it all before. And over the past 5 years, we've seen similar archdiocesan defenses dismantled, plank by plank, as new facts emerge. But it's at least logically possible that in this case, the defense will hold up.

Or is it? In one clear, sweeping statement, the archdiocese claims:

The Archdiocese did not engage in a 'cover-up' of the sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Ah. So when a priest was found to have raped children, did archdiocesan officials contact families in his parish, to make sure that other children were not molested, too? Did they put local law-enforcement officials on alert? Did they provide an honest explanation for the priest's removal from the rectory? When a priest-abuser was returned to ministry after psychological treatment, was anyone warned to keep an eye on him?

Face it: If they didn't tell the truth, then they engaged in a cover-up. Did they tell the truth?

Next question: Are they telling the truth now?

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