EDITORIAL

April 18, 2013

Complicit

For a Church whose very name – Catholic – means broad, big and universal, it has become head shakingly predictable that when caught and called out in media exposure regarding sexual abuse it ducks head first in to the internal, the interior, the parochial.

The most recent case in point: the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown in Pennsylvania.

This diocese is one of a number in which the estimated dozens of victims of Franciscan friar Stephen Baker, who committed suicide on 1/26/13, have come forward.

Besides Altoona-Johnstown, Baker victims have come forward in the Diocese of Youngstown, OH as well as Orchard Lake, MI., and St. Patrick’s Church in Inver Grove Heights, MN.

Links to news stories:

http://tribune-democrat.com/local/x437164960/Altoona-Johnstown-diocese-launches-abuse-investigation

http://www.altoonamirror.com/page/content.detail/id/569937/Baker-probe-ongoing.html?nav=742

http://news.msn.com/us/attorney-dozens-more-in-pa-ohio-claim-abuse-by-friar

The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown is doing an internal investigation. Yup, internal.

Catholics in this diocese need to stand up and yell until their lungs burst that every penny, every minute, every ounce of energy that goes into an internal investigation is a monumental waste of money, time, and effort – and they won’t stand for it.

We have learned things in this largest crisis in 500 years in the Church and one of the most obvious is that dioceses, bishops, and chanceries investigating themselves produces more stonewalling not less.

No internal investigation has resulted in getting to the bottom of anything in this crisis.

It’s way past time for an internal investigation in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

In fact, it’s the internal, and the over protection of it, that got us into this mess in the first place.

Independent, outside, trained investigators are the path to truth – that and the release of documents.

Any other route is simply a stroll down a garden path to buy time and look interested until the media lose interest.

This does not, we repeat, does not protect children or provide access to justice for the survivors.

No Catholic needs to think, believe or act that they are first Catholic, first Diocese or first anything anymore in this crisis. There is plenty of knowledge available. Easily and readily available. No need to start from scratch with an “internal investigation.”

Need a starting place? Pick up a copy of Michael D’Antonio’s new book Mortal Sins. Then sit down and become educated. Then act.

Insiders, stand down.

Catholics, step up and bring in the justice system professionals.

To remain silent and to go along with this so called internal investigation ploy does not make Catholics innocent bystanders, it makes them complicit.

—- Kristine Ward, Chair, National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), KristineWard@hotmail.com

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