Wednesday, August 03, 2005

It's Coming

No surprise, but confirmation of long-standing buzz here in the River City:
The grand jury investigating sex abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese has prepared a report that documents decades of assaults on children by more than 50 priests - but calls for no new criminal charges.

The report, more than 500 pages long, harshly criticizes church leaders for shielding abusers.
The grand jury did go on for well over three years so the report has long been anticipated. Now it's just a question of who, what and how bad... here's a preview:
The report concludes that archdiocese officials often conducted only a cursory inquiry when children or parents came to them with complaints. It also says church officials rarely, if ever, advised victims to call police. Nor did they contact police on their own, even when some priests admitted numerous assaults, investigators found....

Investigators concluded that some abusers found ways to stay in church posts that gave them access to children. But the investigation did not turn up a single case in which the archdiocese transferred a known abuser who then attacked again in a new parish.
More than anything else, especially given the tradition of a quiescent local church, the big variable is how the people will react. It's either continued ho-hum with no coverage and low rage levels (the emphatic hope and preference of the bosses) or all-out fury as the culture is scrutinized in public and challenged on the extent of its Catholicity vs. that of its clericalism. The grand jury's own reaction might give us a window to what's to come there:

The grand-jury investigation has been an often emotional experience for witnesses and the 23 grand jurors alike.

In some cases, accusers broke down as they testified of long-ago abuse suffered when they were children. Sometimes, jurors wept as well, according to people familiar with the investigation.

If it hits with the latter outpouring, the last absolute monarchy in American Catholicism will tremble a bit more than it's currently used to.

This will be a very interesting month.



Blogger Disgusted in DC said...

I have long felt that these kinds of grand jury reports are an abuse of the prosecutorial process, even if they are legal. The job of a prosecutor is to prosecute crimes when the interests of justice so require. In my view, it is not the proper role of a prosecutor to issue grand jury reports for the purpose of chastizing legal conduct, even if immoral. The only mitigating factor - not that it will mean all that much - is that the Archdiocese will probably be cleared of any criminal charges, something that likely Ms. Abraham had reason to believe all along.

3/8/05 10:28  

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