Let’s talk about Joliet, IL and Fall River, MA, two dioceses with bishops who, were it not for public embarrassment, were more than happy to throw child safety under the bus.
In Joliet, Bishop Dan Conlon (the head of the USCCB committee on child protection, by the way) was going to reinstate a priest suspended two years ago for credible allegations of child sex abuse. In fact, not only were the allegations credible, but no one within the church denied that the abuse had taken place.
Instead of following the polices of the organization he heads, Conlon told the press that the Vatican was “forcing him” to reinstate Fr. Lee Ryan. Ryan was going to minister to shut-ins. In their homes. With their children and grandchildren. Unsupervised.
Conlon finally reversed his decision after huge backlash. We have yet to hear if the Vatican is mad.
But this brings up an interesting idea: for years, the church has fought in court that priests are not employees and that bishops are independent from the Vatican. Does Conlon’s little “slip-up” expose the fact that the US Catholic Church been trying to pull the wool over judges eyes for decades?
On to Fall River.
I send my son to a private school. If that school asked me to sign a waiver that absolved the school of any liability if an employee or volunteer abused my child, I would walk out, go to the cops, and tell them that the school is hiding something.
But in Fall River, such a waiver was par for the course.
After the policy was made public, the diocese backtracked and said the policy was “being reviewed by attorneys” and would no longer be in place. A diocese spokesman also disavowed all knowledge of the waiver, which is not terribly surprising. Admitting that they knew about it would be admitting that they expect children to be abused.
What is so disturbing about Fall River and Joliet is that NOTHING has changed since the so-called “reforms” of 2002 … unless, of course, the bishops are publicly embarrassed in the media for reckless endangerment of children. When THAT happens, they have no problem “reforming.”
Even “mean, nasty, secular” organizations adopt ethical policies that require legal, upstanding and ethical conduct by their employees. In fact, the credo of Janssen Pharmaceuticals, makers of birth control pills, says in their credo: We must provide competent management, and their actions must be just and ethical.
Just AND ethical? The bishops could take a lesson or two. Because when your enemy openly states that they will run a more ethical business than you do, you have a problem.
If you want other interesting reading: I was struck by Patrick Wall’s post today about bishops who have been accused (or arrested) for abuse or cover-up of abuse. I had no idea that in RECENT history, TEN U.S. Catholic bishops were accused of and/or removed for sexually abusing kids. None were prosecuted because of lapsed statutes of limitations.