A continuous stream of revelations of Clerical sexual abuse and also the associated cover-ups has been a shock for many. What has become increasingly clear is that it has been happening on a literally global industrial scale over multiple decades, and most probably centuries. In our increasingly connected age there was no way that this could be swept under the carpet, and so it naturally led to the rather obvious and desperately needed internal reforms back in 2002 that came with all sorts of checks and balances.
Problem solved, it is all history now and better times are ahead … right?
If they totally screwed up handling it all initially, then where on earth did you ever get the idea that a few wholly appropriate reforms would magically vaporise utter incompetence.
Today’s insight concerns what has just happened within the Diocese of Buffalo.
Roughly about twenty years ago the Catholic Church deployed the reforms I mentioned. This was enshrined within the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and was formally adopted by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in 2002.
It was all a very public and transparent set of guidelines for the handling of abuse complains. Guidance on how to transparently investigate, review, and also respond to such complaints.
Unfortunately the Buffalo Diocese took the very conscious and deliberate decision to ignore it all, to not properly investigate complaints, but instead to just cover it all up and carry on protecting priests guilty of sexual abuse.
We are talking here, not about just one or two cases, but a total of over two dozen credibly accused priests from the Buffalo Diocese.
The full responsibility for what happened with Bishop Emeritus Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Grosz.
Part of their strategy was to lie by deploying “medical leaves” or “voluntary retirements” to simply hide the accused priests out of sight.
Over time it soon became apparent to the authorities in New York that something was very very wrong, so in 2018 they launched a comprehensive investigation.
In November 2020 when that concluded the New York Attorney General, Letitia James, filed a lawsuit against …
- The Buffalo Diocese
- Bishop Emeritus Malone
- Former Auxiliary Bishop Grosz
It charged them with both the mishandling of child sexual abuse claims and also held them responsible for their total failure to uphold their responsibilities to victims of abuse, parishioners, and the public.
Now, just ten days ago on the 25th October 2022, they reached a formal legally binding settlement.
You can find that full settlement here (it runs to 94 pages)
The details are quite staggering and unprecedented
This is not your usual settlement, but instead something that is totally unprecedented and very unexpected.
The Buffalo Diocese has agreed to secular oversight and monitoring.
The key requirement is that this legally binding court ordered settlement mandates that the Buffalo Diocese must have a formal program to individually monitor credibly accused priests and that they must also submit to an independent annual audit of its compliance.
To quote the NY AG …
“For far too long, the Buffalo Diocese and its leaders failed their most basic duty to guide and protect our children. In choosing to defend the perpetrators of sexual abuse instead of defending the most vulnerable, the Buffalo Diocese and its leaders breached parishioners’ trust and caused many a crisis of faith. As a result of this action, the Buffalo Diocese will now begin a much-needed era of independent oversight and accountability, and my office will continue to do everything in its power to restore trust and transparency for the future. No individual or entity is above the law, and those who violate it in New York state will always be held accountable.”NY Attorney General, Letitia James
Translation – they have so catastrophically screwed things up that they simply can’t be trusted. Now they are being forced to accept being continuously monitored and audited by the far more moral secular oversight.
What happens Now?
The moment there is a sexual abuse complaint they are legally mandated to appoint an independent investigator. The investigation must then proceed at pace and be completed within 45 days.
Everything must be written down.
There must also be full transparency with total public disclosure – no redacted names of any accused priests. One other very obvious requirement is that any accused priest must be suspended for the duration of the investigation. Law enforcement must also be notified, and there must be full cooperation with them.
Finally, each year everything that has been happening must go through an independent audit, oh and let’s not forget that the Buffalo Diocese is paying for all of this.
Meanwhile, the Diocese has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and is citing liabilities associated with Child Victims Act cases. They are faced with over 900 child sexual abuse case claims.
Let that number sink in.
Bishop Emeritus Malone and former Auxiliary Bishop Grosz, named in the settlement, have also been banned for life from serving in any role within any nonprofit or charitable entity in all of New York state.
The Catholic Buffalo Diocese has been working really very hard to excel at being obnoxious immoral shits who demonstrated no empathy for the abused and a considerable degree of empathy for the accused.
Now they face the consequences.
I’ll leave the last word on this to one commenter on it all who makes this observation …
The Church is more interested in protecting the institution than kids. It took secular reporters writing about the abuse, and secular attorneys general filing lawsuits against the Church before anything of significance happened to curb the problem. This is just the next step in that process.
Amen to that.
- The 2020 lawsuit is here
- The Oct 25, 2022 full settlement is here.
- The NY AG Press Release is here
- Wikipedia: Catholic Church sexual abuse cases