I first wrote on this subject in November 2002 as I was encouraged by a colleague of mine, a former Catholic, to put my thoughts down on paper. Those thoughts then became an "open letter to the Catholic Church" which were shared, I'm told, with the U.S. Catholic Bishops. The bottom line is that the U.S. Catholic Bishops took a support position adopting restorative justice as a policy position on criminal justice and crime in November 2000. That is little more than a fact at this time since the application of restorative justice is certainly hard to see when looking at the cases in California and and around the country. And that's just the U.S. But I am blogging about this today to applaud Steve Lopez for writing about this topic and this ongoing saga in the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the handling of the clergy abuse cases by Cardinal Roger Mahony. He's got guts. People get weary of reading this stories. Maybe they get tired because we're all disgusted. But maybe we don't want to read the stories because no one seems to fix the problem.
Nevertheless, the facts are there. The victims remain. New victims come forward whether in Los Angeles or in Ireland or somewhere else in the world. Keeping the stories of abuse in front of the public is very important. Hopefully with exposure comes action.
This new twist of this story is about Monsignor Richard Loomis, a former vicar of clergy for the archdiocese. As you'll read in the link to this blog entry, Loomis has spoken out about what he knows and what he said to Cardinal Mahony and when he said it. The bottom line is there seems to be a paper trail, which seldom, if ever, existed in the past with other cases. I won't get into all the details, you can read it in the column or elsewhere, but it's possible that there might be more "proof" than usual that the archdiocese did not contact the police when it had real evidence that priests were abusing children. How is it we care about some crimes against children but not others? Does the law apply in some cases but not others? When a religious institution is involved, like the Catholic Church, do we look the other way? Law enforcement? Politicians? Well, we know in our American justice system often there is inconsistent application of the law. Laws differ state to state. Federal law sometimes conflicts with state law.Wise? No. But it's a fact. My point is that restorative justice seeks fair and balanced justice for all. We who support restorative justice want a system that is just, a system that works, and a system that restores or repairs those injured by crime. We want a return of shalom after that peace has been broken in our communities. With these cases of clergy abuse there is a need to ferret out the truth. The victims deserve that. I don't care if they were abused 20 years ago or last year. Accountability in our justice system is something we must have.