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The Boston Globe – the paper that broke the Catholic priest abuse scandal in 2002 – is now reporting, along with the Philadelphia Inquirer, that American Bishops have yet to be held accountable for protecting and reassigning abusing priests.
Nearly a third of the bishops who are alive at the moment have been accused during some time in their careers of not responding adequately to reports of abusive priests in their dioceses. At least 15 have themselves been accused of abuse and are still under the protection of the Catholic Church.
These are the findings of The Boston Globe and Philadelphia Inquirer that were published Monday.
Phil Lawler of Catholic World News says, if anything, the report underestimates the problem.
“The figures are low,” Lawler explained. “In 2002, I had concluded that a majority of the Diocesan Bishops at that time had been guilty of covering up or ignoring abuse charges.”
The bishops claim that they do not have the authority to discipline each other – and insist that such discipline has to come from Rome.
Lawler conceded that this may be true – under canonical law.
“But they could police each other,” he contended. “They could demand accountability from each other, and they have not done that – and that chicken is coming home to roost big time now.”
Lawler also noted that the bishops will be meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, later this month, and the investigative story will be at the top of the agenda.
However, the reporter said that he has had enough of promises. Now, he insists he wants some action.
“I think we’ll know pretty soon whether the American bishops … have the fire in their belly to get this done,” Lawler concluded. “I do see some signs of hope, but we have a lot of ground to cover before we get there.”