Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of a then-secret crime: Fr. Gilbert Gauthe molested a boy in Louisiana in 1972.
Over a decade later, that crime — and dozens of others Gauthe committed — became national news. (Thanks, in part, to NCR). Thus began an unprecedented and at times overwhelming deluge of abuse and cover up reports which eventually led to over 7,000 U.S. priests being publicly accused of sexually violating children.
If you’re a Catholic, chances are you’re tired of this seemingly endless stream of allegations of clerical corruption (though the flow of abuse reports has slowed in recent years). And at least a few times over the past two decades, you have likely worried, “I wonder if kids in my parish are safe?”
I hope you’ve also asked yourself, several times, “What might I do to help prevent abuse in the church?”
Well, if you’re able to remain open-minded, and not recoil in horror or laugh at a very counterintuitive proposal, keep reading. I have a suggestion that might address all three of these legitimate concerns.
Let’s start with a scenario virtually all of us have experienced. It’s time to take the bandage off. A nurse or doctor says, “I can take this off slowly or quickly, and to be honest, it will hurt either way. It’s your choice.”
My guess is that most of us would go with the speedy option. Best to just get it done and move on, right?
That speedy approach has never been a possibility with the clergy abuse crisis. Most victims could do little but privately report their predators to a bishop or a religious order superior. Wounds continue to fester in secrecy.