Diarmuid Martin’s Marquette Speech
In response to requests on another thread, here is Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s Marquette Lecture from April 4. It’s been noted on that other thread, there’s no mention of consequences for cover-ups by bishops. But for many of us, it is the cover-up that is the moral core of the crisis.
Any organization that allows access to kids will draw pedophiles. Simple as that–they’re sick, not stupid. Boy Scouts, Little League, elementary schools, you name it. The problem with the Church’s response is the near-lockstep way in which leaders shuffled pedophiles and abusers of teens from place to place, and gave them unrestricted access to kids over and over, and responded to people raising questions about those abusers with lies, obfuscations and clever legal tactics again and again. Sure, there are also tales of cover-ups in cases of abuse in other churches, schools, etc., but most of those tales seem to be anecdotal, not reflecting an almost uniform culture of cover-up like we’ve seen in the church, diocese after diocese, nation after nation. For example, I’ve never heard a school board say, when a pedophile is discovered, “well, it’s not like we’re the only group with pedophiles.” (At the time of the first explosion of the crisis in Boston, I recall one leader of another denomination who, when asked if that church had a problem with pedophiles, answered simply, “Yes. Three. They’re in jail.”) Clearly the Dallas Charter (also without penalties for those who cover up for pedophiles,) doesn’t really do the trick, given the alacrity with which bishops have ignored its requirements, (viz. Chicago, Philly, and who knows where else.)
Martin calls for a restorative justice approach to the mess. While that’s a nifty idea, he suggests that bishops can be the mediators of such a process, and I think that’s naive at this point. So, I suppose, since the people of the Church (laity, clerics, leaders) seem unwilling to take any effective action against leaders who covered up for pedophiles, we must again wait for the secular government to do our work for us. Or is Martin’s lecture a good start for a larger conversation? How might we, the whole Church, proceed from here?