The credibility of Catholic bishops on the issue of sexual abuse is “shredded,” according to Bishop R. Daniel Conlin,who serves as chairman of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. While he personally believes the Catholic hierarchy has adopted a new “entirely different spirit of openness and accountability,” no one seems to be buying into that view, he notes. From USA Today:
The U.S. Catholic bishops’ point man on sexual abuse has said that the hierarchy’s credibility on fixing the problem is “shredded” and that the situation is comparable to the Reformation, when “the episcopacy, the regular clergy, even the papacy were discredited.”
Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., last month told a conference of staffers who oversee child safety programs in American dioceses that he had always assumed that consistently implementing the bishops’ policies on child protection, “coupled with some decent publicity, would turn public opinion around.”
“I now know this was an illusion,” Conlon, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, said in an address on Aug. 13 to the National Safe Environment and Victim Assistance Coordinators Leadership Conference in Omaha, Neb.
His talk was published in the Aug. 30 edition of Origins, an affiliate of Catholic News Service.
Conlon said that the conviction of a high-ranking church official in Philadelphia for covering up clergy abuse and the upcoming trial of a bishop in Missouri on charges of failing to report a priest on suspicions of child abuse have contributed to a widespread impression that the bishops “have failed to keep their commitments.”
The bishop disputed that view, but said even close friends “turned almost hostile” over dinner recently when he said the hierarchy has adopted “an entirely different spirit of openness and accountability.”
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