US bishops’ point man on sex abuse addresses Kansas City case
In the wake of the first conviction of a Catholic bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis, bishops throughout the country have to recognize they are accountable to their own people for their actions to protect children, the bishop who heads the U.S. bishops’ committee tasked with advising their national conference on sexual abuse said Tuesday.
Bishops also have to be “firm” in applying the procedures that the body of bishops adopted 10 years ago to prevent child abuse, said Joliet, Ill., Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, the chair of the U.S. bishops’ committee for the protection of children and young people.
Conlon spoke to NCR by phone from the sidelines of a meeting of the U.S. bishops’ administrative committee. He addressed last week’s conviction of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report suspected child abuse.
In a non-jury trial Sept. 6, Finn was found guilty of one count of failing to report suspected child abuse, a misdemeanor in the state of Missouri, making him the first sitting U.S. bishop to be convicted of a crime stemming in the decades long sex abuse scandal.
During Tuesday’s interview with NCR, Conlon discussed the impact of that conviction on the continuing progress of the national church to address sex abuse, 10 years after the U.S. bishops’ adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
“We’ve got a long, long way to go,” Conlon said. “But I think that diligent application of the Charter is essential. That doesn’t mean that there’s going to be 100 percent perfection because we’re still human beings.
“And we have 190 dioceses in the United States. I can’t help the fact that if there is a flaw in one place, that it’s counted against one of us. I can’t help that.” [More]