By Elizabeth Tenety
Washington Post religion reporters Michelle Boorstein and William Wan reported Friday that many Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse ‘simply vanish‘ from public view or accountability. In many cases, Catholic officials claim that they are no longer responsible for those priests who have left or been forced out of ministry.
Boorstein and Wan’s report published on the heels of a Delaware settlement where $30 million in damages was allotted by a jury to a man who suffered priest abuse as a child.
Many victims groups continue to assert that the church has still not done enough to protect children and hold accountable the 5,768 American priests accused between 1950 to 2009.
(During a recent visit to his old church, David Fortwengler said he still wrestles with the effects of his childhood abuse by a priest. The last time he was at the Oxon Hill church, he said, was with a detective in 2002 after he filed a report. More here. Katherine Frey / The Washington Post)
One reason for the lack of information on accused priests is the decentralized nature of church record-keeping. Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, spokeswoman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops told Wan that church policy is to leave “up to the individual dioceses how, or whether, they keep tabs on priests who are removed from the ministry or defrocked after sex-related allegations.”
But church officials say they’ve made progress against clergy sex abuse. From Boorstein and Wan’s report:
[Walsh] and others said the church has made enormous strides on the issue of clergy sexual abuse over the past 10 years – reporting priests who have abused children to authorities, releasing an annual survey on the number of accusations, devoting staff and resources to training and background checks, and removing priests even when police can’t or won’t press criminal charges.
Do you think that the church has done enough? What do you think the responsibility of church officials should be towards priests removed from ministry? What more would you like to see done?
More On Faith and the Catholic sex abuse scandal:
On Faith panel question: Has the Pope Benedict XVI done enough?