Is Prosecution Deserved?

Dear Friar,

I am writing a persuasive position paper in my university English class over the "scandals" going on in the Catholic Church and, more specifically, whether or not these breaches of trust deserve lawful prosecution.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could lend me an opinion or two. Do you feel prosecution is deserved? Or, do you feel these incidents should be handled from diocese to diocese as they see fit?

Thank you very much....

Shannon Greenamyer
Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio


Dear Shannon,

Thanks for your email. Important - and very timely - topic. Yes, these crimes (pederasty, pedophilia) deserve - and require - lawful prosecution no matter who commits them. Anyone in the Church, whether bishop, priest, layperson, has an obligation to notify the police or some other legitimate authority if they have evidence (for example, a credible accusation) that such a crime might have been committed.

As a priest, I have ministered pastorally to an unfortunately high number of people who have been the victims of sexual abuse as children. It is a terrible plague in our society. Besides doing what I could through the sacrament of reconciliation and/or spiritual counseling, I have tried to encourage them to see therapists who could help them deal with the damage and confusion.

The Archdiocese of Seattle of which I am a part, developed norms back in the 80's and has carefully followed them. Therapists and mental health professions helped put these norms together and they insisted that they not be so rigid that a bishop lack flexibility in dealing with the specifics of any given case. As far as I can see, the norms in Seattle have worked well. What happened in Boston was outrageous - transferring a known pedophile from parish to parish. One outcome of the last four months of furor is that it would probably be pretty unlikely for such an outrage to happen in a long time. Of course, the Church like any institution is made up of weak, sinful human beings (I fall into that category and I suspect you do as well) so we have to maintain contant vigilance, especially when it involves those most vulnerable among us.

Good luck on your paper, Shannon. Please also accept a prayer and a blessing.

Fr. Bloom

Pedophilia and Teaching of Bible

Other Letter regarding Boston Scandal

Letter from Former Catholic

Homily on Boston Scandal

Can The Church Save Itself?

Catholicism is the Answer