US Catholic Faith in Real Life

How not to respond to sex abuse: Whining

Bryan Cones | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare

If there is one thing European bishops should have learned from U.S. sex abuse crisis, it's don't blame the messenger. It just makes you look whiny.

The Irish bishops, at least Bishop of Elphin Christopher Jones anyway, have clearly not learned that lesson, with Jones lamenting the "unfair and unjust" coverage the Irish scandal is getting.

Even worse is pointing out that everyone else is doing it: "Could I just say with all this emphasis on cover-up, the cover-up has gone on for centuries, not just in the church… It’s going on today in families, in communities, in societies. Why are you singling out the church?" So how does that make the church look better?

It doesn't; in fact it makes the hierarchy look like it's trying to get out of taking full responsibility for what has happened by passing the blame around. Far better would be to acknowledge guilt and highlight the steps we are taking to eliminate child sex abuse and make churches safe for children--and acknowledge that the hierarchy has made itself an easy target by promulgating a high and at time unforgiving sexual ethic while allowing these monstrosities to go on. 

And just for the record, one thing the media coverage is doing is rectifying the immeasurable injustice and violence committed against children in Catholic institutions, which far outweighs the just comeuppance the church is getting in the media.