Lincoln Still An Outlier

The 2012 annual report on the Charter is up at USCCB. Let’s consult a map:

Lincoln noncompliance

The USCCB president:

I acknowledge with great appreciation all those who contributed time and effort to this significant achievement. At the same time, we also renew our steadfast resolution never to lessen our common commitment to protect children and young people entrusted to our pastoral care. We seek with equal determination to promote healing and reconciliation for those harmed in the past, and to assure that our audits continue to be credible and maintain accountability in our shared promise to protect and our pledge to heal.

I am happy to share this annual report with you …

Al Notzon, the chairperson of the National Review Board:

It is my understanding that all of the dioceses will be included in next year’s Audit.

That is interesting news. Apparently the new bishop in Lincoln has plans different from his predecessor.

Now, a red spot in the middle of American Catholicism might not mean much. It could be that this central bastion of “orthodoxy” has indeed found the inner purification needed to resist temptation to overpower children, teens, women, and men sexually and emotionally. It could be that Nebraska polices its own clergy and other leaders far more effectively than the whole 20th century bunch of bishops. It could be Cornhusker red bleeding through. Maybe Lincoln children are fine. Maybe.

On the other hand, orthodoxy didn’t have long and strong legs in Newark. Another Midwestern bishop, willing to go to jail for something he didn’t do, begged off the orange jumpsuit for something he did, signing away a bit of his episcopal authority in the process. One post-Charter predator evaded a pretty smart cardinal in another Midwestern diocese. Another skipped the country while his bishop took the weekend off to ponder what to do. And another prominent, and fortunately dead cardinal was thrown under the bus back East when a priest was sent to jail for misdeeds. By the lawyers his very own archdiocese had on the payroll.

Unfortunately for Nebraska parents, they can’t really be sure. A lying edifice wrapping itself in the mantle of innocence and the limit of episcopal power pretty much looks the same as a vigilant community in compliance. Except when the scandal breaks. Then you might find more money laid out for offenders than directly for victim therapy. And you might find a lot more money laid out for lawyers and settlements.

The timing of the Audit report–this could be unfortunate. Those nice preface letters were penned before the Newark chancery went into meltdown and still can’t get its story straight. Newark is in “compliance.” And yet its leadership blundered badly enough to send heads rolling and to call for an archbishop to step down. Archbishop Dolan “assures” us this and other “audits” are credible. He is “happy” to share them.

But the fact is that Catholics are less concerned about clergy these days than their bishops. What are they hiding? Why are they lying? And for those not caught in lies, is it because they are really being truthful with us? Or is it because we haven’t caught them yet?

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
This entry was posted in bishops, Church News, sex abuse and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Lincoln Still An Outlier

  1. Jim McCrea says:

    I understand (can’t find the names, though) that about 6 Eastern Eparchies have also refused to participate in the Dallas Charter audits. Why do they fly under radar screen all the time? Are they no better than Bruskewitz’s Lincoln refusal?

  2. FrMichael says:

    Lincoln has been enforcing a “one strike and you’re out” policy as well as a no-SSA seminarian policy for decades. These twin policies have served them well. While I would like them to be part of the Dallas charter, so far nobody has come forward with any cases of episcopal coverup.

    • Todd says:

      Well, the no-SSA seminarian policy doesn’t cover heterosexual child abusers. So good for their bishops if there’s nothing for them to be caught about. Of course, Philadelphia didn’t get caught from what? 1700-something to 2012? The Charter seems largely a legal formality. If Lincoln ever got caught, it would be as bad as any other bad news that broke.

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