Last night I had the sad opportunity to watch the program, 60 Minutes, which provided an expose on the Catholic clergy sex abuse scandal in the Diocese of Buffalo, New York. During this program the way the Catholic hierarchy in the United States fails to responsibly deal with the abuses of priests over the decades was clearly revealed. Once again, the phrase, “secret archives,” was used to illustrate the fact that allegations of clerical abuse are locked into the deepest recess’ of each respective bishop’s file cabinet.

Scores of priests are alleged to have committed sexual abuses against children over the course of decades in the Diocese of Buffalo and many of these men remain in active ministry. While, the American principles of juris prudence maintain the presumption of innocence until proven guilty by a trial by jury or one’s peers, the blatant disregard towards a proper acknowledgement and conclusion of the abuses of Catholic clergy still runs rampant in Buffalo and throughout the United States.

Recently, the United States, Department of Justice admonished the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops that they should not destroy documents associated with the any abuse allegations concerning Catholic clergy. Thankfully, the matter is on the radar of the Department of Justice. The Catholic hierarchy are finally on notice that all these allegations of clergy abuse are subject to judicial review and potential criminal charges nationwide. It is about time.

Catholic faithful should also breathe a collective sigh of relief as well. With the potential of a Federal Grand Jury potentially reviewing the hundreds of cases throughout the United States perhaps real justice for the victims and retribution from the perpetrators will occur. The American Catholic bishops have been complicit for decades in concealing these acts of sex abuse and have operated in a manner more consistent with organized crime than that of pastors. If indeed the Justice Department intends to prosecute bishops and clergy alike it should be on the premise that the USCCB acted as a vehicle of organized crime in the same way mob bosses were prosecuted under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act commonly known as RICO.

One asks the question of how faithful Catholics should react to potential prosecution of their bishops and clergy as participants in activities that concealed illegal and immoral actions and then colluded to conceal these actions from faithful Catholics and American society? They indeed should be thankful that this sad chapter of the Catholic Church’s presence in our daily lives is finally concluding. While sentiments will often celebrate the final judicial verdict in these alleged abuses, lament will also be part of many Catholics’ responses.

Catholics need to continue to demand transparency and honesty on the part of their priests and bishops. A Catholic Church that deceives and conspires to hide transgressions against young people in the Church requires no allegiance on the part of the Catholic faithful. Perhaps in addition to demanding changes in the way the Church operates, Catholic should be more selective in their donations as well. The days of Catholics, Praying, Paying and Obeying are over! Responsible Catholics need to see signs of change and commitment to restoring confidence in the Church’s leadership on both a local and national level before they commit themselves to an abundance of donations to fund the activities of the Catholic Church. While such a drastic action seems an overreaction, Church leaders need to comprehend the gravity of their actions which have tarnished not only their status as religious leaders but as Catholics committed to upholding the law both moral and civil.

The potential of a Federal Government probe into the clergy sex abuse scandal throughout the Catholic dioceses in the United States marks a turning point for both the judicial process and the Church’s canonical review of all these cases of sex abuse. Regardless of what happens to the Church and the clergy that have been accused of these acts of gross immorality, one thing remains clear…the Church needs to repent and restore faith in the institution and in the clergy that minister in the name of Christ.

The final word on this matter will hopefully be restitution and healing for those affected by the predatory actions of many members of the Catholic clergy that should be removed from all active ministry and finally held accountable for their transgressions against the youth of the Church and their loss of trust from the very people they were consecrated through Holy Orders to faithfully serve.

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