Submitted to Star Tribune August 1, 2014
As Ronald Reagan used to say, “Well, there you go again.” Another day, another thousand words from the secular press rehashing the sexual abuse problems of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The chorus includes the Star Tribune, the Pioneer Press, the New York Times, and Minnesota Public Radio. They all give particular weight to the opinions of Catholic dissenters and quote them as if their opinions are in the Catholic mainstream. They spend most of their copy retelling cases from 1970s and earlier, and then add a new wrinkle or two. Now the Star Tribune editorial board has the audacity to call for Archbishop John Nienstedt to resign (27-July-2014.)
Any organization that had to make public their personnel records over the last 50 years would likely find some serious issues, which is the nature of personnel records. The relatively small number of offending priests over these years, whose management could have been handled much better, are paraded out every week as if their crimes are current events. Of course, they must repeat the completely unsubstantiated claim of improprieties by the Archbishop himself. Meanwhile the far more pervasive and ongoing problem of child sexual abuse roars on at the hands of relatives and parents, live-in boyfriends, public school teachers, medical professionals, lawyers, and non-Catholic clergy.
Where is the outrage?
The state, much like the Church, has had a steep learning curve in dealing with sex offenders. The state is on the verge of being ordered by a federal judge to make significant changes in their sex offender program. The state is still relying on “treatment,” which the Catholic Church learned the hard way, is ineffective. The schools are dealing with several cases where a known offender has been kept on the job. The difference is that these are current cases, while most of the cases in the Church are old … sometimes VERY old.
Last fall, California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the CA Senate bill, which would have revived sexual abuse claims that had long been barred under the statute of limitations. In so doing the Governor “refused to allow the law to be twisted into a crude tool of vengeance.”
Accusers of the Catholic Church will not be satisfied until the two thousand-year old structure is completely brought to its knees, eliminated, and all assets liquidated and confiscated.
Fortunately they will never be satisfied because the Church will endure until the end of time. She has endured far worse times and has emerged stronger. The current chorus thinks it is cutting-edge when they call for Church reform. But the Church herself has always maintained ecclesia reformanda est, that is, the Church must always be reformed because it is made up of sinful human beings.
A constant public relation campaign is being waged against the Archbishop. While he is not perfect, most of the reasons his critics cite would not be reason for resignation absent the ongoing PR tsunami that tries to paint a story colored by events that preceded his tenure in this diocese. Truly, they are out for blood and Archbishop Nienstedt’s head.
Board of Directors,
Catholic Defense League