Is the Catholic Church Capable of Transparency and Truth Telling?
The recent Lettergate scandal coupled with the US bishops inability to reveal the truth about the history of sexual abuse within their own dioceses leads one to ask “Is the Catholic Church able to tell the truth?”
Lettergate has become a public relations nightmare after the Vatican selectively released portions of a letter that implied Pope Francis’ predecessor Pope Benedict XVI supported him wholeheartedly.
The previously hidden part of the letter provides the full explanation why Benedict refused to write a commentary on a new Vatican-published compilation of books about Francis’ theological and philosophical background that was released to mark his fifth anniversary as pope.
In addition to saying he didn’t have time, Benedict noted that one of the authors involved in the project had launched “virulent,” ″anti-papist” attacks against his teaching and that of St. John Paul II. He said he was “surprised” the Vatican had chosen the theologian to be included in the 11-volume “The Theology of Pope Francis.”
“I’m certain you can understand why I’m declining,” Benedict wrote.
The Vatican’s Secretariat for Communications said Saturday it was releasing the full text of the letter due to the controversy over the “presumed manipulation” of information when the volume was launched Monday with great fanfare on the eve of Francis’ anniversary.
Perhaps the more important example of the inability to tell the truth is occurring in the Diocese of Buffalo. Bishop Robert Malone has announced that he is reconsidering whether he should reverse the longstanding diocesan policy of withholding the names of priests accused of abuse. At the same time, he is quick to point out that he inherited the policy of secrecy when he took office.
What is there to consider? What has to be deliberated? Do the right thing especially since the Bishop has announced a plan to compensate certain victims for sexual abuse and the recent admission by a retired Buffalo priest should make the decision quite easy.
The Rev. Norbert F. Orsolits admitted the abuse to The News after a South Buffalo resident accused the priest of molesting him on a ski trip in the early 1980s. The admissions prompted additional allegations against Orsolits, as well as new public accusations against other priests.
Victims’ advocates for years have called for greater transparency from the diocese, including the release of names of clergy alleged to have molested children. Withholding names, they argue, fosters secrecy that allows the abuse scandal to fester.
In spite of all this, Bishop Malone can’t bring himself to do the right thing. He is unable or unwilling to tell the truth and release names of priests who are accused of sexually abusing young children. It is apparent the Catholic Church doesn’t enjoy a strong relationship with transparency or the truth.
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