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Hoosier Musings on the Road to Emmaus

Thursday, February 02, 2006

"Go thou and do likewise"

I am not Roman Catholic, so I generally refrain from commenting on any internal struggles that tradition may be having. God knows we in the Episcopal Church have enough logs in our own eyes that I don't need to go looking for splinters elsewhere.

But this morning I read this story in the New York Times (sorry, registation required; but you can find the same general information from the AP here) about a recent settlement with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane, regarding lawsuits brought by persons who had been sexually abused by diocesan clergy. The financial details interested me far less than the additional provisions of the settlement:

Among those concessions is an agreement by the diocese to stop referring to "alleged victims" of priests' abuse rather than simply "victims," said Tim Kosnoff, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers. The victims, Mr. Kosnoff said, are to be allowed to return to the parishes where they came into contact with their molesters and possibly face them, a provision that victims' groups said appeared to be a first. They will also be permitted to write about their experiences in the diocesan newspaper, with a full page devoted to that purpose each month for the next three years.

Further, Mr. Kosnoff said, the bishop will lobby state lawmakers to abolish statutes of limitations on child sex crimes and will go to every parish where any plaintiff was abused, tell the parishioners that an abusive priest had ministered there and encourage them to report any suspicions of abuse.

Diocesan officials did not return telephone calls seeking comment Wednesday. But at a televised news conference, Bishop Skylstad, who is also president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said, "To those of you who say this settlement will be a burden, I would say that this scandal is a burden we can no longer afford not to resolve."

The bishop apologized to the victims in his 82-parish diocese "for the terrible wrongs inflicted on you in the past."

In other words, they are not merely trying to pay off the victims; they have also promised to make efforts to repent, and atone, allowing for open and honest communication and healing.

I have never met Bishop Skylstad, but I find I would like to. This is godly work.


Blogger The young fogey said...

If the Bishop of Spokane had done this long before his diocese went bankrupt I might agree.

February 03, 2006 7:02 AM  

Blogger Jane Ellen+ said...

Young Fogey: You have a valid point. They have been in litigation for years, and it would have been far better to acknowledge and deal with the issue way back when.

Still, I want to give credit where credit is due. Coming late to this choice and action is better than not coming at all. It is a vast improvement over prior behavior, and hopefully a right example to those still digging in their heels.

February 03, 2006 7:31 AM  

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