In Priest Abuse Cases It’s Always About the Documents

We’ve seen this time and time again. On more than one occasion, we’ve been directly involved in it. I’m talking about Catholic Church documents related to the abuse of minors by priests. The Church’s lawyers do everything in their power to keep them secret and we fight to get them released to the general public. After all, the real issue is child safety. That same fight has taken place in Philadelphia where state prosecutors had to fight to release the grand jury testimony of retired Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. They were posted online for the very first time by the Philadelphia Inquirer. They make for an interesting read. However, they are filled with the same kind of denials, half-truths, excuses, and obfuscations as we’ve seen before in Boston and Los Angeles. It’s also worth noting the reaction of Bevilacqua’s lawyers to the grand jury interrogation. The lawyers claimed the prosecutors were “anti-Catholic” and said they were disrespectful to the Cardinal during his testimony. These types of comments are instructive and give the reader an insight into how the Church and her lawyers think about the abuse crisis in general. In their world, church leaders, especially cardinals, are not to be questioned. They are especially not to be dragged before civil grand juries and asked questions about their own judgment.
It took courage and integrity to release the documents. Let’s hope as a result fewer children will be harmed because society is armed with knowledge about the issue and the scandal.