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sexual assault

Each week, LA Progressive’s editors pick what they regard as a particularly insightful comment from one of our readers, both to draw attention to one particular reader’s thoughts and to encourage more readers to weigh in with their opinions. This week’s pithy "Feedback Friday" response comes from Ron Fox, who commented on the article by Frank Fear, "I Was Sexually Abused By a Priest: Here’s What I Think about the Catholic Church."

The Chicago area is heavily Roman Catholic. The comings and goings and public statements of the Archbishop of Chicago is covered in the media at the level of a major public figure. So he has been interviewed on this topic. He mouths the usual platitudes, calls into question the motives of the more vociferous critics, claimed that anti-Latino bias against the Pope is an issue and says that it’s a plot to drive attention away from the really serious work the Church is doing in the area of climate change and other such issues near and dear to the “progressive” heart.

Willow Creek is a Protestant mega-church in the Chicago area. They have just had a scandal where the chief rector was found to have engaged in sexual activities with female adult parishioners he was not married to. It came out that several of them complained, but their complaints were not investigated in sufficient depth or the proper consideration by the church’s board. The suspicion is that they simply couldn’t believe (or did not want to believe) it and didn’t dig hard enough and deep enough.

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What the Pope needs to do is to come to America (or maybe to Ireland first, or Brazil – wherever, just start SOMEWHERE), come to some major city such as Chicago, set up shop and start calling in bishops, telling them to bring all their records with them.

But when it came out after too long of a time that the complaints WERE valid and that the board had not been diligent enough, the board forced the chief pastor and a few others on the pastoral staff to resign – and then the board itself resigned! It did so explicitly to open the way for new leaders at both the pastoral and executive level with no taint of involvement in this matter to take over. That way, the members of the church could see that their welfare and faith was – belatedly – placed as the church’s top priority.

What the Pope needs to do is to come to America (or maybe to Ireland first, or Brazil – wherever, just start SOMEWHERE), come to some major city such as Chicago, set up shop and start calling in bishops, telling them to bring all their records with them. He then needs to defrock all the priests and bishops and Archbishops involved and turn over whatever evidence he has to the police of the various jurisdictions, even if the statute of limitations has expired. That would include any members of the Curia (the top administrators in the Church, who are present in the Vatican itself) who knew about what was going on but failed to act.

If he’s not willing to do this, then he needs to resign. Popes were once elected by the Church itself, not the College of Cardinals. It may take bypassing them again or even getting rid of them entirely to get someone in there willing to do the job. And anyone who thinks that this is not the most important issue facing the Church and that it MUST be dealt with or it will destroy the Church is a fool to the point of being detached from their own humanity. They should re-read the Bible. I recommend starting with the Gospel of Matthew, 18:6 – (forgive me, but I do like the old-school language of the St. James Version):

“But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”