Last week the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office released a detailed report regarding the credibility of the Catholic Church’s efforts to eradicate allegations of clergy sex abuse scandals. The release of the report exacerbated concerns Last week’s report of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s attorney general raised continued concerns that the Catholic bishops and other members of the administrative hierarchies conspired to conceal the activities of hundreds of Catholic priests since the last 1940’s that have been accused of violating minors in duplicitous activities of criminal actions that have been covered-up by the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania for decades. While the allegations of misconduct are numerous, one thing that seemingly rings true is this: the bishops acted in a manner that is consistent with a conspiracy to conceal the truth from generations of faithful Catholics regarding the disposition of predator priests while systematically hiding the whereabouts of accused clergy to contain the fallout of the scandal.

With that said, it needs to be clearly stated that the bishops have committed at the very least a grave and heinous act of deceit to protect the Church’s reputation against the continued concerns over predatory priests. While many members of the Catholic Church’s hierarchy have since made public apologies and statements regarding their seemingly correct handling of the incidents outlined in the grand jury report, such patronizing excuses are no longer enough to bring about a successful outcome to all the allegations of sexual misconduct and grievous transgressions that have occurred over the course of more than half a century.

It is time for the civil authorities to consider the Catholic hierarchy as a hostile entity that is not willing to actively pursue justice for the victims of these unspeakable offenses against minors at the hands of Catholic clergy that were systematically obfuscated by the hierarchy with the hopes and intentions that the issues would simply go away and vanish. In setting this course of selective distancing from the harsh realities of sexual abuse on the part of Catholic clergy, the bishops are indeed co-conspirators’ and now need to profess culpability for their omissions and completely admit their guilt not only to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, but to the victims and their families and indeed all the People of God.

What really is a stake here is not just a public relations nightmare for the Catholic bishops but a complete crisis of institutional credibility that continues to undermine the Catholic Church in the United States regarding the clergy sex abuse scandal. If indeed there has been a concentrated conspiracy to conceal the truth about the abuses of Catholic clergy, what other things are the Catholic bishops conspiring to conceal from the Catholic populace and our collective society. It used to be said that if you cannot trust a Catholic priest, who can you trust. At this point many ask that same question only with sarcasm and distrust as they question the lack of honesty and truthfulness on the part of the Catholic bishops. The clergy sex abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church in the United State for the better part of 30 years seem to only get more complex and staggering in their implications and quite frankly it appears there is no end in sight.

It is indeed time to prosecute the Catholic bishops under the existing RICO laws, as participants in a criminal organization that has consistently conspired to conceal the truth from faithful Catholics, law enforcement entities and other civic authorities at the expense of thousands of known victims, while the count continues to accumulate.

If indeed the Federal Government were to investigate the Catholic Church under the RICO laws it would enable the resources of the nationwide network of law enforcement to effectively uncover, investigate and uncover the many levels of abuse that seemingly are cloaked from discovery by moving priests accused of illicit activities from diocese to diocese throughout the United States perhaps evading and escaping law enforcement because they effectively, “go off the grid,” until the crisis passed or in most cases the statute of limitations expires. Such a tactic has been a favorite one for the Catholic bishops because it effectively removes the problematic priest from their care and places that priest in the care of another bishop and diocese. Lateral transfers of problematic priests need to immediately stop for the allegations to be properly investigated in their respective dioceses.

While the American Catholic bishops claim that since the Dallas Charter, the systematic shifting of problematic priests has ceased, the Grand Jury report revealed last week in Pennsylvania indicates otherwise. Seemingly, the constant transfer of abuser priests continues, while unsuspecting Catholics continue to financially support their parishes, schools and other Catholic institutions without knowing the true background of the priests that serve them.

When a priest is removed from active ministry the People of God have a right to know why. While a careful balance between the need to know and the American judicial precept that cautiously balances one’s innocence before proven guilty concept needs to be vigorously preserved. However, parishioners should be informed of allegations against their clergy to maintain a viable transparency while to faith community comes to an understanding of what has happened in their parish. If indeed the cleric is found guilty after the due process of our legal system, it is then up to the local bishop to decide the disposition of the egregious cleric and inform the faith community. For example, if a priest is laicized because of scandalous behavior the diocese in which he served should be informed. Far too often, that priest’s canonical status in unknown and he simply disappears. In the ordination rite, the People of God are asked to provide their consent for deacons, priests and bishops to be ordained to those respective offices of responsibility within the Catholic Church. It stands to reason that if these men are removed from active ministry, the People of God should also know their canonical disposition as well. This author knows of at least ten individuals that purport themselves as active priests on Facebook, when they indeed have been forcibly laicized after credible allegations of the sexual abuse of minors. The institutional Church has the obligation to inform society when those in Holy Orders are removed from that status for the greater good of all involved, not for reasons of penal retribution.

There are many points that need open communications and the inclusion of professional laity to objectively determine the issues surrounding allegations of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. It seems that the Catholic bishops have effectively abrogated their rights to determine the correct administrative actions in dealing with these allegations and concerns simply because they have illustrated not only negligence but complicity in conspiring to conceal these tragic events from law enforcement, the Catholic faithful and our law-based society. As a direct result it is time for civil authorities to lawfully usurp the administrative role of the bishops and serve in place of the bishops to contain and eliminate the clergy sex abuse scandal that seems never to end in the United States. Unfortunately, what seems incredulous when initially revealed is only the tip of the scandal, most of which remains obscured from the public, the faithful and most importantly law enforcement authorities throughout the United States.

Finally, the American Catholic bishops hold the ultimate culpability for the many years these allegations of clergy sex abuse have festered under a well contrived public relations campaign that intended to deceive the Catholic faithful from knowing the full extent and scope of the truth regarding the realities of these allegations. It is time for ALL the American Catholic bishops that have contributed to this grave and immoral scandal to resign and retire as they await the outcome of juridical deliberations on the dispositions of the cases of each member of the clergy that is accused of sexual abuse. The bishops have done a great disservice to the People of God while deceiving themselves, each other and above all God that their conspiratorial zeal served a positive purpose.

The only real purpose the bishops served was their own and it ignored the principles of juris prudence, American citizenship, and most importantly ignored the honored axiom, to love thy neighbor.

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