In the wake of a Pa. grand jury report that revealed a decades-long cover-up of child sex abuse involving more than 1,000 victims and hundreds of priests, it isn't enough for Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik to say, "We have followed every single step that we needed to follow to be responsible in our response to the victims."
It isn't enough for Zubik to say he listens to victims "very carefully."
And it surely is not enough to say, "The church of Pittsburgh today is not the church that's described in the grand jury report," after he confirmed an allegation in the report that an alleged victim was offered payment in exchange for his silence.
Zubik's resignation may or may not be the best — or only — solution.
For those of us who attended Catholic schools and would like to consider the same for our children and grandchildren, more has to happen in Philadelphia, Delaware, and all of the U.S.
Whether it comes from the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops in their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People or your local diocese, there must be unequivocal language and rules whereby any church leader, employee, or volunteer who fails to immediately report accusations of sexual abuse to authorities is to be reported to authorities, summarily fired, and face excommunication, just as is the abuser should he be found guilty. Certainly no one can trust Zubik — and the other priests involved in the cover up — to have such authority over children.
The bishops have made it perfectly clear that all accusations of sexual misconduct must be reported to the secular authorities. Local dioceses have done the same, in accordance with the bishops. This is a step in the right direction, yet still fails to instill trust from many of us.
Defenders of the faith insist that these are not crimes unique to the Catholic religion.
This knowledge is important for recognizing and publicly acknowledging the fact that pedophiles will seek employment and volunteer opportunities where they can get close to children.
An epidemic of sexual abuse has also been widely reported in the orthodox Hasidic community in Brooklyn, where men have shared far too many stories of Jewish leaders, teachers, and rabbis raping them when they were young boys in the religious baths called mikvahs.
Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg told a reporter about what he described as a "child-rape assembly line" among sects of fundamentalist Jews.
The victims were ignored and good people reporting these abuses to Hasidic leaders and secular authorities were shunned.
About 20 years ago, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette enterprised stories involving public schools throughout the U.S. where districts would "pass the trash" of sexual abusers to school districts in other parts of the country, thus alleviating their districts of perverts preying upon students by foisting those perverts upon children in distant districts.
No, the Catholic Church is not alone in its failings.
Criminology researchers at the University of West Florida and the University of Texas at Arlington studied sexual abuse cases as reported by Protestant churches to insurance companies contracted by these religious organizations.
"Specifically, three faith-based insurance companies that provide coverage for 165,500 churches—mostly Protestant Christian churches and 5,500 other religious-oriented organizations—reported 7,095 claims of alleged sexual abuse by clergy, church staff, congregation members, or volunteers between 1987 and 2007. This is an average of 260 claims of alleged sexual abuse per year."
It really matters not to the faithful and those who desire to be faithful that researchers have found such sexual abuse in similar percentages in other religious and secular realms.
The church needs to be better than all that is secular.
The church needs to be the absolute holiest sanctuary for children, not a ring of purgatory.