Bishops' president speaks about issue
By Tony Staley
As media accounts of the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal continue to receive prominent play, the U.S. bishops' president offers some perspective.
Bp. Wilton Gregory, writing in his diocesan newspaper, The Messenger of Belleville, Ill., said: "The Catholic Church is not hopelessly corrupt -- as many accounts would have you believe. The priesthood is not filled with child molesters and perverts -- in spite of the horrendous behavior of a few grotesque clerics. All bishops have not been negligent, deceitful or conniving in attempting to address this issue -- though a number of terrible mistakes have been made by some of us.
"We have not conspired together in a clandestine plot to defraud, deceive and betray our people. Almost every case that has come to the public's attention during these past five months represents an event that took place in the distant past."
But, he said, "too many of us thought first of the priesthood when we ought to have placed children's safety first -- always first!" Then, he warned, "There are forces afoot in this moment that have little or no concern for the real safety of children and youth -- even less concern than they claim the bishops have."
Many people are using the scandal to push their agendas: "Conservatives blame a lax and immoral seminary formation program, English in the liturgy, homosexual clerics and dishonest bishops. Liberal Catholics blame 'clericalism,' 'patriarchy,' 'hierarchical authoritarianism' and dishonest bishops. Anti-Catholics disparage 'Catholicism,' the papacy, the nondemocratic hierarchical nature of the Catholic Church -- and dishonest bishops."
Sadly, nothing is ever as simple as it seems.