The Color Purple

 

Lent is a time to take stock, confess sins, and, when necessary, begin anew. It is fitting, then, that the U.S. Catholic bishops have chosen Lent to issue their reports on the church’s catastrophic sexual-abuse crisis. This year’s report from the National Review Board (NRB) and the Office of Child and Youth Protection (OCYP) was published February 12. It makes clear the ongoing need for such an accounting-Lent in, Lent out. The startling thing about the report is that it nearly didn’t happen. Although the sexual-abuse crisis is acknowledged to be the worst failure in the history of the U.S. Catholic church-one that has undercut the church’s authority and profoundly alienated priests and laity alike-last February a small group of influential bishops, including archbishops and cardinals, tried to delay the audit on which the report depends. Other bishops and the laity, most prominently members of the NRB itself and groups like Voice of the Faithful, stymied this ill-conceived initiative. Had the audit been abandoned, the image of the church would have been further damaged, its reputation all the more weakened. So this new report, the second by the OCYP, is something of an achievement. Based on both a six-month audit conducted by an independent consulting firm and a survey by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, the full report and summaries from each participating diocese are available online at...

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