Let’s suppose that a school learns that one of its teachers has been routinely sexually assaulting students. What should it do?
The easy answer is to fire the employee and contact the police, right?
Different set of rules
Compare that scenario to the latest revelations facing the Catholic Church, where yet more of its responses to alleged priest abuse of scores of young parishioners — this time in Wisconsin, Germany, and Ireland — are making the news. The Church is playing the role of victim, accusing the media of engaging in a witch hunt and whipping up a public frenzy.
For those of us in Boston, this is a tragic and outrageous tale of same old, same old. A decade ago, Boston’s ultimate self-proclaimed victim was Cardinal Bernard Law, who not only escaped criminal prosecution for his central role in the scandal, but also landed softly after his resignation as Archbishop of Boston in the form of a cushy job in Rome, courtesy of his employer.
Morals, ethics, and human dignity
When viewed in the clear light of day, this is hardly an attack on faith. Rather, the Church’s conduct must be seen as an issue of organizational integrity and employment practice.
After all, sexual assault is sexual assault, regardless of whether the attacker is wearing a robe, and if it’s one of your employees committing the abuse, you have a duty to act. Employers who enable and cover up such conduct are engaging in monumental violations of morals, ethics, and human dignity — the antithesis of what any decent organization, faith-based or otherwise, should be about.