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Southern Religion

Catholic sex abuse scandal in the South

She did not say, “It’s over.” What Laurie Goodstein did write for the New York Times is:

Roman Catholic bishops in the United States received fewer accusations of sexual abuse by the clergy in 2009 than in any other year since 2004, according to an annual audit based on self-reporting from Catholic dioceses.

The self-reported nature of the numbers does raise serious questions:

David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, reiterated victims’ skepticism about self-reported abuse figures. He said it’s naive to think an institution that has concealed abuse and protected its own for so long would suddenly be honest and forthcoming

The same questions arose when Catholic Diocese of Charlotte press spokesman David Hains’ tried to minimize the problem in North Carolina by arguing that his diocese hasn’t had the extensive sex abuse problems of, say, Boston.

Returning fire today, Neal Evans wrote in the Asheville [North Carolina] Citizen-Times:

I beg to differ.

The St. Eugene’s music minister who also taught at Asheville Catholic School pled to a 30-year federal term for child pornography while his boss, then-pastor of St. Eugene’s, awaits trial for covering up that crime. There’s the music minister’s predecessor, who left after an internal investigation; the diocesan co-director of youth ministry, a priest reassigned to Virginia after allegedly abusing an adolescent; another priest who served in Tryon, Maggie Valley and Charlotte, removed based on “credible evidence”; the Charlotte priest, extradited from New Jersey, sentenced last year up to 10 years for sexually abusing an altar boy.

There’s much more. Priests involved in sexual abuse and cover-up have served in every Catholic parish and school in Buncombe County. Abused at St. Joan of Arc in West Asheville and now representing SNAP (Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests), I frequently receive calls from survivors and families, painfully but bravely sharing their stories of abuse and betrayal by their church.

Germany, Guam and Switzerland and other places an ocean away are by no means the only ones where new cases are surfacing. Every day, it seems. So that neither a papal pastoral letter of apology nor the processed-at-last resignation of an Irish bishop are solutions. They merely impinge on a problem whose sheer magnitude is still becoming apparent.

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March 24, 2010 - Posted by | Catholic, children, Crime | ,

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