In 2002 “The Boston Globe” ran its “Spotlight” series exposing child abuse within the Roman Catholic church. It’s been seventeen years. The story outlined the systematic sexual abuse of young boys. It detailed the church’s cover-up, how the hierarchy systematically moved abusers, leaving them to start anew in another city or town. Seventeen years.
Since then we’ve heard similar stories in Pittsburgh and other places. This was not something localized to Boston, it was just exposed here first. Seventeen years.
Follow the story. The cover-up came from the highest leaders of the church. Consider Cardinal Bernard Law, the one time Archbishop emeritus of Boston. He fled to The Vatican and hid for the rest of his life. Had he been part of any other organization he would have been prosecuted under RICO for running a corrupt organization, yet because it was the Catholic church he was allowed to run and remain free. And the church persisted in its cover-up. We will never know the full story and the extent of the abuse.
So why does seventeen years matter? It’s taken seventeen years for the Catholic Church to finally say that it is wrong to sexually abuse children and to say they will no longer tolerate abuse. Seventeen years before they were willing to hold themselves accountable. Seventeen years. It’s too long. An organization that holds itself as one of the world’s leading moral authorities should have understood that sexual abuse of children is wrong. Yet the cover-up continued, even after the church was exposed.