In the wake of the stunning grand jury report in Pennsylvania nearly a year ago, several states’ attorneys general have announced their own investigations into the Catholic Church, and many churches have responded by publishing their own lists of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children. Better to get ahead of the story, right?
But that hasn’t always worked. In Illinois, for example, former Attorney General Lisa Madigan announced in December that the state’s six dioceses had not disclosed details about allegations involving more than 500 priests and other clergy members. Which is to say Madigan knew a lot more about predatory priests than the Church was willing to admit.
Michigan’s AG, too, has been vocal about the extent of the abuse her office has uncovered through its investigation.
We could say something like this for a lot of states, but the point is this: More victims are willing to trust government investigators than the Church itself. That should be obvious. That’s also why we need outside law enforcement officials examining the abuse claims. The Catholic Church cannot be trusted to do the right thing. They’ve failed (or purposely avoided owning up to their crimes) too many times to be taken seriously.
Oklahoma is currently finding out what happens when you let the Church police itself.
As The Oklahoman notes, last year, the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City said it would conduct its own investigation with “transparency” and “accountability.”
The result? There’s no report. There’s certainly no public report. And the investigation is now being conducted by McAfee and Taft, a law firm that “has worked with the church for nearly 15 years.” Oh, and also, the father of one of the firm’s partners is also the chancellor of the Archdiocese.
You won’t see that many red flags at a soccer match between Spain and Japan.
“The investigation should be run by law enforcement. Period,” said David Clohessy, former director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an organization that advocates for victims through support groups and by advocating for stronger laws.
“Common sense tells you if they hired (a law firm) with a partner related to the second-highest ranking diocese official that just doesn’t pass the smell test,” said Clohessy, who is currently SNAP’s Missouri director.
Again, there’s no evidence of any wrongdoing, but that’s only because the Church and the law firm haven’t released a damn thing. The Republican attorney general says the state won’t get involved until the Church’s report is released. So… there you go. There’s hardly an incentive to produce a thorough report anytime soon.
Meanwhile, other states have issued damning testimonies against the Church’s actions, and there’s absolutely no reason to think child sexual abuse occurred everywhere except Oklahoma City.
What is the Church so afraid of that they don’t want a truly independent investigation of its organization, past and present?
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Beau for the link)