The Dallas Morning News reviews what bishops knew
For the last three months The Dallas Morning News has studied what U.S. bishops knew and did about sexual abuse in their dioceses. In results released today, the paper reports that "roughly two-thirds of the top U.S. Catholic leaders have allowed priests accused of sexual abuse to keep working."
The study finds that 111 of 178 bishops either ignored warnings about suspicious behavior or failed to dismiss priests after admissions of wrongdoing, diagnoses of sexual disorders, legal settlements, or even criminal convictions. The 111 bishops are from at least 40 states and eight are now cardinals in U.S. archdioceses.
Today's article looks at the shadow these findings cast on this week's bishops' meeting in Dallas and explains why bishops would have allowed accused priests to stay in their parishes or be moved to other communities. Two of the common explanations of bishops's actions are "they did what they did many years ago [and] on the advice of skilled therapists who had treated the priests."
While many of the cases now being exposed are decades old, The Dallas Morning News found several examples of accused priests transferred or left in their congregations since the late 1990s.
The Rev. Francis Maniscalco, a spokesman for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, told the paper that deciding on the best methods to handle clergy sexual abuse has been an issue for decades and individual bishops made the most prudent choices they could.
"Why should anybody's feet be held to the fire?" he asked. "The bishops made what they thought were prudent decisions at the time. The decisions were made on the best advice available."
Other stories on the sex abuse scandal include:
- The head of the Catholic bishops group gains stature amid church scandal | One key American figure has gained stature this year -- Bishop Wilton Gregory, the prelate who will lead this week's conference. (Associated Press)
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 60+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more