Earlier today, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General (OAG) released its preliminary report on clergy misconduct in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Unfortunately, the details are not for the faint of heart.
Before we go further, we must point out that AnglicanWatch ardently disagrees with the redaction of names. In matters such as this, sunlight is a powerful disinfectant.
Several highlights of the report:
- Several cases reported, while sexual in nature, go far beyond sexual molestation. These situations include severe sadism and torture.
- One of the consistent themes is the exploitation of the power differential inherent in the relationship between clergy and laity. The inequity includes claims that no one will believe the victim because the perpetrator is a priest. The other is that if the victim tells anyone, s/he will go to hell.
- The church consistently focused on protecting its reputation over safeguarding its members.
- The sheer number of perpetrators and the enormity of their crimes makes evident a significant problem with the report: it confines itself to the Catholic Church. As we have seen with the Southern Baptist Convention, misconduct knows no bounds. And with only 310 out of 1,000 sexual assaults being reported, it is safe to conclude many more cases exist.
- Implicit in the report is the inherent bias in our judicial system against pursuing criminal charges. Some of the situations described are so shocking one cannot imagine any other scenario — even a prison — where officials would not immediately arrest the offender.
Let’s hope that the courts stop the silly redaction game and make all information publicly available. And let’s ask that the OAG investigate all faith communities, not just the Catholic Church.