OTHER VOICES

Priest sex-abuse cases headed to court

Posted April 03, 2011, at 6:24 p.m.

After decades of silence, deceit and settlements, the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal might finally be headed where it truly belongs, U.S. criminal courts.

Church leadership has been granted extraordinary latitude in handling epic cases of sexual assault against children who put their innocence and trust in religious figures who violated them, sometimes for years.

Recently, a $166 million settlement was announced for victims abused by Jesuit priests on Northwest tribal lands and in remote Alaskan villages.

But real progress came across the country in Philadelphia, where a judge approved requests by the district attorney to move ahead in a case involving accusations of rape and conspiracy involving clergy, and a subsequent coverup by a senior church official.

In the U.S. and elsewhere, the church was given authority and deference it did not deserve and repeatedly violated in the handling of cases that date back decades. Instances of abuse are still being revealed.

The outside world did not sully a sacred vocation. No more operating above the law. Turn those accused of assault and abuse over to secular authorities. Send the guilty to jail.

The Seattle Times (March 29)

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