This week, Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times profiled a newly formed group of priests and nuns who have united to fight clergy sexual abuse and make the Catholic Church safer. The group is called Catholic Whistleblowers, and they say the Roman Catholic Church is still protection sexual predators.
The group sent a letter to Pope Francis, urging him to take steps to heal victims and restore the church’s credibility by creating a culture of transparency and by removing bishops who have obstructed justice.
I commend this courageous group of individuals for taking definitive action and for shedding light from the inside out on the church’s failure to enforce their own zero-tolerance policies on child sexual abuse.
While U.S. bishops’ annual abuse audits (which are based on self-reporting) paint an optimistic picture of progress in the church, there are still over 6,000 credibly accused abusive clergy who continue to have access to children.
The desperate need for monitoring is exemplified in the recent case of Rev. Michael Fugee, a New Jersey priest who was a convicted sex offender restricted by court order from working with children. The archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers, allowed Fugee to remain in ministry in Trenton and to attend weekend youth retreats with children.
As a child advocate, an attorney for victims of sexual abuse, and a father, I sincerely thank these brave men and women for standing up on behalf of clergy abuse victims and fellow whistle-blowers.
I am confident that the courage of the Catholic Whistleblowers will empower countless others to join the movement to protect children and end clergy sexual abuse.