The Catholic Church needs to do one of two things. It has to get better crisis PR people, or if it has good crisis PR people, it needs to follow their advice. Crisis PR advice isn’t hard. There are only five steps:
· Recognize the problem
· Acknowledge the problem
· Say what you’re going to do to fix it
· Do it
Taking the advice, however, is hard. Nevertheless, once you have recognized that pedophilia is a problem (and there should be no argument: It is) follow the five steps above.
One more thing: It is now the twenty-first century. The Protestant Reformation established during the sixteenth century that clergy are subject to the laws of the government. So, if the Church has a pedophile on its hands it should report that person to the civil authorities and allow that person to be prosecuted. The same holds true for anyone who discovers pedophilia, not just the Catholic Church. Pedophilia must not be tolerated under any circumstances.
Don’t hide it either. Hiding it makes it appear to anyone who knows about it that you do tolerate and condone it. Tolerating and condoning pedophilia are two things nobody should do. The Catholic Church and anyone who claims to represent it must never minimize it either.
It’s alright with me if the Church loves the sinner, but it absolutely must hate the sin. So, any priest who has been found to be a pedophile must be prosecuted in the secular justice system and must face the consequences. The church should also help and make amends to any victims.
After all that, if the pedophile is released from prison and the church wants to help him, it’s okay with me. It can help him (house him away from temptation and get him psychiatric treatment for example) without allowing him to resume his ministry and without his having any contact with children.
I say him, by the way, because all of the incidents I’ve read about within the Church involved priests, not nuns. If there are or were any nuns involved in such reprehensible acts, then my advice on how to deal with the problem remains the same.
I don’t mean to suggest that pedophile clergy within the Catholic Church are the norm. I’m sure the overwhelming majority of priests do not do these horrible things. But if the Church hides these things it puts all priests under a cloud of suspicion very few of them deserve.
All of what I’ve said is true whether Pope Benedict knew about those deaf boys in Wisconsin, or not, and whether he swept something under the rug, or not. I have no idea whether he did know or did sweep. I hope he didn’t know, and didn’t sweep, but if he did, he should be treated as if he were part of the problem, because if he hid those things he is part of the problem.