"Protect the Church at all costs". That would represent the true official policy of the Catholic Church.
Unfortunately, the latest "news" coming out of the Archdiocese of Los Angele reveals something more familiar. On Thursday "12,000 pages of once-confidential personnel files of more than 100 priests accused of abuse" was posted on its web site after a Los Angeles judge ordered them released.
The archdiocese was given three weeks to make the documents public but chose to release them immediately,(one supposes as some "act of valor" considering it had previously stonewalled all efforts to release the files with 5 - years of legal wrangling). Too bad the Church hierarchy hadn't taken immediate action when their priests molesting of children first became known, but that's an old story.
In this latest revelation of church hierarchy "dirty laundry", one of the documents came from the "Servants of the Paraclete", a Catholic order in New Mexico tasked with rehabilitating abusers. They advised the L.A. Archdiocese, "PLEASE DESTROY THESE PAGES AND ANY OTHER MATERIAL YOU HAVE RECEIVED FROM US", (written and emphasized in all CAPS). This was sent in a letter to Cardinal Roger Mahony in 1988 detailing "therapist's reports about a prolific molester". The letter ended with, "This is stated for your own and our legal protection". Other released documents indicated Mahony ignored the New Mexico's Orders advice. Yet those therapy memos were the most detailed in describing the behavior of priests who had been sent to this facility for "rehabilitation". (Note: the "Servants of the Paraclete" facility has since been closed (date unknown) but according to lawyer for the Order he indicated in a 2011 civil court filing all treatment records had been destroyed).
The documents revealed an already much known policy of church hierarchy regarding offending priests. Return them to priestly duties, maybe after some "rehabilitation" efforts or have them relocated to other dioceses, where, no surprise, they continued their pattern of molesting children.
What was particularly revealing to this observer was the "greatest ire of the hierarchy involved priests breaking church law rather than criminal laws".
An example: After discovering a priest had been abusing boys they sent him for therapy then returned him to the ministry sometime later after believing his word he would stay away from children. When the archdiocese discovered he was performing baptisms without permission this set off an alarm among the church's top officials. They discussed launching a canonical investigation which clearly indicated they were more exercised over "religious transgression" than the sexual abuse committed by their priests.
So is this a form of "piling on" by continuing to castigate the church hierarchy for its misguided judgment and repeated failures in not protecting its most vulnerable flock, those children molested by priests while the church continues to cover up the abuse as a way to protect the institution?
Maybe so. What has always baffled this secular writer has been the seemingly virtual silence by the Catholic laity in commenting (never mind condemning) on church hierarchy covering up the molesting of children by offending priests.
That silence is a form of acquiescence in tolerating and accepting the intolerable.
Would open criticism of the church by Catholic laity be considered not being a good Catholic; a form of blasphemy?
Penn State and Joe Paterno were rightly condemned for covering up the molesting of boys by former coach Jerry Sandusky.
When an institution attempts to protect itself at all costs, whether it's a storied football program or the Catholic Church, when it covers up sexual abuse committed by supposed "respected authority figures" then they deserve all the legitimate criticism and condemnation thrown their way.
These institutions hierarchy forget the old dictum, only "the truth will set you free".