An editorial in the November 7 Philadelphia Inquirer, commenting on the November 4 story it jointly published with the Boston Globe, said the papers found that since 2002 “the leaders of the U.S. Catholic Church are far better at covering up child sexual abuse than stopping it.”
This is factually inaccurate. It is not even remotely true. Since the Dallas reforms were passed by the bishops in 2002, there has been a marked decline in current charges of sexual abuse against the clergy—almost all the allegations that have come forward in the past 16 years are about offenses in the last century.
In fact, just .005 percent of the clergy have had a substantiated charge made against them in the last two years: six allegations were substantiated between July 1, 2016 and June 30, 2017; two were substantiated between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
Does the Philadelphia Inquirer know of any institution, religious or secular, that has a better record than that?
Moreover, owing to the diligence of New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is no longer in ministry. And just last week, one of Dolan’s auxiliary bishops, John Jenik, stepped down pending a probe of allegations made against him for offenses that took place decades ago. Dolan was responsible for that as well.
Does the Philadelphia Inquirer know of any institution, religious or secular, where its leaders turn in one of their own?
In spite of the progress that has been made, the newspaper has the gall to say that the Church is “incapable of policing itself,” and instead calls on what it terms “professionals—prosecutors who understand the law and know how to adjudicate crimes” to take over.
They had such a person, the former District Attorney of Philadelphia, Seth Williams. But he is now in prison. They also had the former Attorney General of Pennsylvania, Kathleen Kane. But she is now in prison. If anything, Pennsylvania needs to hire Cardinal Dolan to clean house throughout the state. Or they could hire Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput—he doesn’t lack for integrity or guts either.
Even more infuriating is the arrogance of the Philadelphia Inquirer. It says the Church “should turn over its secret archives.” The Church should turn over nothing, not at least until the Philadelphia Inquirer turns over its secret archives on Paul Davies.
Davies was the deputy editorial page editor from 2007 to 2011. Reports surfaced in 2011 that he was fired for running a front-page story in the “Currents” section that detailed what a rip-off the Philadelphia Convention Center was. The newspaper denied the allegation but refused to comment on the matter saying it is “company policy not to discuss personnel matters relative to former employees.” Yet it demands that the Church turn over its files to them!
The Inquirer should open its secret archives on Davies so the public can learn the truth. That he was rehired in 2016 does not resolve this issue: The editorial welcoming him back on August 18, 2016 never mentioned why he left in the first place. We know he threatened to sue the paper in 2011 but we don’t know what happened after that. Why the secret?
Finally, the newspaper argues that state legislators should lift the statute of limitations on crimes involving the sexual abuse of minors. Will the paper implore lawmakers to include the public schools in this legislation? Or will it do what it always does and just favor targeting the Catholic Church?
The Philadelphia Inquirer reeks of hypocrisy.
Contact Sandra Shea, managing editor, opinion: [email protected]