The New York Times brings to light several terrible stories about the church this morning, including the news of the record $166 million settlement by the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, which has declared bankruptcy. As well, Laurie Goodstein's article on the anguish over the explosive situation in Philadelphia, where 24 priests were recently removed from active ministry, makes for essential reading. Bishop Blaise Cupich of Spokane, chairman of the USCCB's Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, called the situation "confusing and demoralizing." A key passage:
Church officials are also deeply troubled by how it is possible that in the bishops’ most recent annual “audit” — conducted by an outside agency to monitor each diocese’s compliance with the policy changes — Philadelphia passed with flying colors, said Teresa M. Kettelkamp, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, which issues the annual audit reports. “To have that level of compromise of our programs and our process, I was totally shocked,” said Ms. Kettelkamp, who spent 30 years in law enforcement and corruption investigations before she was hired by the bishops.
The main questions, then, are: How could this have happened almost a decade after the Dallas Charter was instituted? Did the National Review Board, charged with auditing the dioceses's ongoing response to abuse, audit the files of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia thoroughly enough? How could Philadelphia have passed "with flying colors"? As the article points out, the independent review boards--unlike a grand jury--are able to audit only what the dioceses give them.
Thus, unless I am missing something, there seem to be two possible explanations: First, the files given to the review board in Philadelphia were somehow "scrubbed" of incriminating evidence. Or second, the review board overlooked key evidence of clergy abuse.
Both possibilities are terrifying.