Declined Abuse Review Board
Title: Why I declined to join my diocesan sex abuse review board
A report last month that a priest in suburban Chicago had been accused of sex abuse after a diocesan review board had found “insufficient reason to suspect” misbehavior has raised questions about the efficacy of these special committees set up to review allegations of sex abuse by Catholic clergy.
For me, it also brought to mind an invitation I received last year to join one of those boards.
The call came from a priest who worked for Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik. The bishop wanted a journalist on the board, the priest explained, and I had done good work in Catholic media.
This request to volunteer my services raised a lot of questions. Like most journalists of my generation (I’m 45), I had reported on clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church, mostly for The Wall Street Journal. In that sense, I was qualified. I’ve interviewed priests, bishops, psychologists, victims, victims’ families and police officers.
Like a lot of people outside the church, I thought the answers to this mess seemed obvious: humility, accountability and, above all, transparency. In short, the church needed to keep fewer secrets.