The release by the Diocese of 108 names of ordained men credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors has caused great concern and consternation. The clergy sexual abuse crisis has been revived at a time when the Church has been making great strides to heal the wounds caused by this sorry chapter in its history.
Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio has assured us that every priest who has been credibly accused in Brooklyn and Queens has been removed from ministry. For all practical purposes, the crisis is a thing of the past. Since the Church in the U.S. adopted the Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children in 2002, there have been only two credible cases against active priests in our diocese. Even one incident is too many, but the dramatic drop in these lewd acts tells us that the corner has been turned to eliminate this evil from church life.
The Church has been proactive in attacking this phenomenon so that today we can say that children are safer in church circles than they are in any other institutional setting. The Bishops of the United States have done more to eradicate this evil than any other entity. Public schools have been reluctant to even admit that this is a societal problem that is present within its own classrooms. Accusations against other religions have been underreported – even unreported.
Instead, the media and our political leaders have made the Church their target in condemning these sins for political reasons – namely, the Church’s defense of life in the womb and its teaching that marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
The dishonesty of the State was never more apparent than last week’s swarmy press conference conducted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in the NY Daily News press room as he signed into law the Child Victims Act. He blamed church leaders for delaying the victims’ bill for the past 13 years. The governor knows better, but he never misses a chance to harpoon the Church. The governor knows that the bill he signed was not the same bill that has been rightly opposed all these years. The previous proposal unjustly was aimed only at the Catholic Church. It did not deliver justice for all the victims of teachers, coaches, and other youth ministers – primarily because of the powerful influence of New York’s public school teachers’ union.
We can never adequately say how sorry we are that this evil scandal of sexual abuse has impacted so many young lives. Those brave men and women who have come forward with these allegations deserve our support and praise. The positive news that came forward this past week was that now all the victims of sexual abuse – not just those abused by Catholic clergy – will have a path to receiving some kind of justice.