Today I will share with you this recent story from the Lawrence Journal-World in Kansas -- for two reasons.
First, to point out that Catholic bishops are not going to solve the long-running abuse scandal by refusing to talk about it.
Second, to take note of the importance of journalists to uncover such stories. Remember that it was journalists from the National Catholic Reporter and, later, the Boston Globe, who brought this abuse scandal to light.
I'm not saying that reporters from broadcast outlets or from blogs, magazines or other Internet sites aren't doing some useful work. But most of the real digging historically has come from reporters on newspapers. And I think the whole culture -- to say nothing of the institutions reporters cover, such as faith communities -- are suffering as newspapers shrink or disappear.
In the article to which I've linked you, that newspaper reports on its two-year investigation into the way various Catholic dioceses in Kansas are handling and have handled abuse reports.
Time after time church officials declined to talk about these cases. I understand legal restrictions when suits have been filed, but there is an overriding need for honesty and openness -- the lack of which led to some of these abuse cases in the first place.
At any rate, my point today is that church officials must be more open if they hope to heal what's wounded and the public should be thankful that there still are news organizations willing to devote two years to uncovering what never should have been covered up in the first place.
* * *
AN OLD NEW CHURCH MESSAGE FOR THE WEST
Pope Benedict XVI has begun a new effort to "re-evangelize" the West, especially Europe. How about this for an idea: Have the church in Europe -- and all over the world -- handle the priest abuse scandal openly, honestly, humbly and with an eye toward protecting children first and the church second? I'm guessing that approach might do more to attract people to the church than almost anything else. I know this much: It couldn't hurt. And if that doesn't happen, this new effort is likely to be viewed as just one more effort to resist modernity, to say nothing of post-modernity, and such efforts have gotten the church almost nowhere.
* * *
P.S.: I've created a blog page describing my "Lessons from the Holocaust" seminar I'll teach this fall. For details, click here. Please consider joining me for what should be a remarkable early November weekend at the beautiful Kirkridge Retreat Center in Pennsylvania.
* * *