I watched a good deal of the live stream of the presentation of the Attorney General of Pennsylvania yesterday. Overall I give him high marks and given the specifics he knows about how victims were abused I can understand and appreciate his righteous anger and rage at miscreant priests and their enabling hierarchies. I understand better too, the similar feelings of reporters and lawyers.
However the Attorney General made it sound like the hierarchy hasn’t done anything since the 1940’s to change the institutional response to these miscreant priests. There has been a huge change beginning in the 1980’s and made nationwide after 2002:
1. We talk about in the open and train both clergy and laity through various ongoing programs to be pro actively vigilant about anyone who could be using a minor or grooming them to be abused. This is huge cultural change for the Church. The topic is no longer taboo.
2. Every diocese I know requires those who know, clergy or laity, to report crimes to law enforcement.
3. Bishops have adopted zero tolerance within the clergy.
4. There is more diligent screening of candidates for the seminary and once there a more alert atmosphere to weed out.
5. The attorney general stated the days of secrecy are now over as though we have not as an institution attempted to change that culture of secrecy. Every bishop I know have asked victims to come forward and be heard.