Priest Abuse Scandal: Why the Church Insists on Shooting the Messenger

In the last few weeks we’ve witnessed some extraordinary events in the long, tragic saga that is the Catholic Church’s priest abuse scandal. Thomas O’Brien, the US Attorney in Los Angeles is undertaking a federal probe of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ actions and lack thereof regarding its handling of priest abusers. Just this past week, the deceased founder of the Legionaries of Christ, Rev. Marcial Maciel, is reported to have fathered a child. The child, now in her early 20’s wants to write a book about her infamous father and her mother’s relationship with him. Even the Legionaries have stopped disputing the allegation as spurious.
Yet, we still have bishops attacking the media for reporting on the scandals. Bishop Jenky of Peoria Illinois claims that the media’s intense hatred for Catholics is fueling the stories. Jenky is distributing a letter to all parishes of the diocese this weekend complaining about the church’s unfair treatment in the courts and in the press. An excerpt of the letter reads as follows: ““Amid all the tensions of our nation’s culture wars and in the face of the media’s intense hatred for our Catholic faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law.” In his tirade, Jenky did not spare lawyers either.
“Attorneys representing some claimants and some “victims groups” obviously have a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies.”
Jenky claims, abundant evidence to the contrary, that these “attacks” are an attack on the faith and not a matter of justice, truth, or protecting victims (whose credibility he questions by putting the words in quotation marks).
This defensive, reactive posture will not resolve the scandal nor will it restore credibility to the Church whose own members have suffered as a result of these scandals.