Every scandal has one thing in common: those in the know. There is always someone in the know. Usually these are people at the top of the hierarchy, people with a lot to lose should anyone information get out. It does not matter the information is. It could be company secrets or something as serious as child rape. The key point is no matter that the scandal is, a lot of someones knew about it and rather than stopping it they decided to cover it up.
So it comes as no surprise that while the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to release confidential church documents, it only did so once the names of high officials were redacted:
Victims of clergy abuse say that release of the personnel files of dead, convicted or admitted pedophile priests will reveal the truth of the hierarchy’s complicity, just as it did in Boston when a court compelled church leaders to turn over a trove of papers that showed how officials protected priests from prosecution and shuffled them from parish to parish. […] Last week, however, the victims again were told to wait, this time by a court-appointed referee who said he was inclined to release some of the documents publicly, but only after redacting the names of high-ranking church officials cited in them. His decision follows a request by the archdiocese to edit out the names.
This release comes on the heels of another scandal in Philadelphia. Last week 21 priests were suspended due to a grand jury report released in February:
The two-year grand jury investigation into priest abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia resulted in charges against two priests, a former priest and a Catholic school teacher who are accused of raping young boys. And in an unprecedented move in the U.S., a former high-ranking church official, William Lynn, was accused of transferring problem priests to new parishes without warning anyone of prior sex-abuse complaints.
The district attorney believes Lynn knowingly recommended abusive priests be reassigned, without ever warning the parishes, reports CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano.
“They did in fact re-offend,” said Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams. “They did in fact rape and sodomize other children.”
The grand jury said as many as 37 priests remained in active ministry despite credible allegations of sexual abuse.
One lingering question is just why did the Church cover up the sexual abuse. The majority of clergy are not child abusers. Most of the nuns and priests who interact with children never do the children any harm. It seems counter-intuitive to hide known abusers and grant them further access to children knowing what the public reaction to this will be once the public finds out. It certainly does not improve people’s opinion of the Church. On a pure bureaucratic level this is bad business.
On a Christian and moral level it is utterly repugnant. Some Church officials must take issue with the cover up. Some of those officials must be in positions of power. Even if no one, for whatever reasons, wants to report the abusers to the local authorities, why allow them to further abuse children? Why allow them to commit that kind of emotional and spiritual devastation on the most vulnerable members of Christ’s flock? Why does no one step in to stop a priest from passing a boy around for his collegues to abuse? Someone had to know this happened to this boy, yet no one did anything to stop it.
Redacting the names of Church officials in the end is only a temporary measure. It will not lessen the potential impact of the thousands of pages of documents. If anything, it will worsen it as it will appear that the Church still has something to hide.