The current crisis in the Catholic Church regarding the sexual abuse of children by members of the clergy certainly demands our attention. Sexual abuse, any abuse, of our children is clearly wrong. But, we must remember, it is equally wrong whether the perpetrator is the child’s daddy, uncle, friend, or church leader. Any abuse of children should provoke the wrath of us all and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.
As a victim of sexual abuse—first by a family friend, and later by a Catholic priest—I am appalled and angered at the recent emphasis on clergy abuse. The media and class-action lawyers nullify both the spirit and intent of our child-abuse laws, and make a mockery of our judicial system.
If I were to make public allegations against the priest who abused me, what would happen? He would, of course, be presumed guilty immediately, with no consideration given to the validity of my accusation. He would be forbidden to continue in his ministry. His name and photo would appear in local, regional, and state newspapers, and on local, even national television. The details of my accusation would be table talk from one end of this country to the other.
His reputation would be destroyed, and his future would be forever changed. All this would happen whether or not he was guilty.