Dioceses are posting lists of abusive priests along with variations of ” any priest with a credible allegation has been removed from public ministry. ” This is to show transparency and perhaps bring healing. But credible allegation is code, scattered in all official reports from the Church. It implies an investigation and consideration of evidence by law enforcement . That’s not what it means. Little attention is given to the criteria set by Catholic Church . Far from any due diligence and appropriate action, an allegation is credible to the Church if there is an admission by the priest, the Church believes the victim and evidence, or if there is a criminal conviction.
In other words, evidence is wieghed by the Church and Church alone. No matter how many reports are made, how many parents come in, victim statements, witnesses, repeated allegations, tangible evidence is not forwarded unless it is believable by a peer. Furthermore, each Diocese has their own subjective criteria. No guidelines. Be careful not to create scandal. The Church must gauge the intent of the alleged victim and if they are worthy to be believed.
This is why the vast majority of reports went no further than the doors of the Church. This is why there can be no criminal charges as statutes of limitations have expired. This is why predator priests are shuffled around and the number of victims grows. There is no accountability.
Read the report that have the credible allegations. As we speak, Bishops have not admitted their own complicity. Todays headlines are filled with their rationalization. ” I was under the impression that priest was removed”, “I was not told of his past allegations till years later.” ” When he left our diocese he was to inform superiors in new residence his inability to engage in ministry, I am saddened he did not.” “The abuse was not in my jurisdiction.” “Look at this 15 yr old study.”
The Catholic Church has little credibility addressing ongoing abuse or holding those currently in ministry accountable. It is far from transparent. Every day more allegations and admissions are coming. The Pope is meeting with Bishops, many are holding prayer vigils.
St, Mary of the Lake in Gary, Indiana will be having a healing Mass September 14th. I will not be going.
Two weeks ago Bishop Hying released the name of ten priest offenders in the Diocese of Gary. It was the first time Fr. George Kavungal, CMI, was on a list. After thirty-two years, there it was.
I stared at the list and footnote “The above information is based upon a review of Diocesan records and will be supplemented if necessary”.
I contacted the Bishop via email , attached a link from Kavungal’s religious order in India, the Carmelites of Mary Immaculate, where he has served in ministry these past thirty some years.
I questioned the final entry” believed to be in India” and ” removed from public ministry”. Is it removed from ministry only in the Diocese of Gary? What was the follow-up when a priest left? What can be done to prevent his predatory behaviour?
In his response, Bishop Hying had the impression Kavungal was restricted from ministry. Bishop Hying would talk to his committee and follow-up” as best they can. He ‘ did terrible things to children and must be held accountable.’
To children. It’s been two weeks, nothing had changed on the list. I must not be credible. I thought an official website with his photo and his assignment would earn a tiny asterisk: that the Diocese has additional information where he is serving and needs to investigate. No. Maybe he’s waiting for an answer from Carmelites of Mary Immaculate. Maybe there is a policy that care for the victims ends at diocesan borders .Maybe everything is false, including the false assurance to victims that he is not in ministry.
That is why the abuse continues, victims remain silent, and people cannot trust their Church.
But look at God. Last night I read a post on Facebook from a man in California. Originally an altar boy from Valparaiso , he too saw the name of his abuser Fr. Julian Jercha on a list for the first time. After 45 years. The Diocese also failed to hear him. Thankfully he answered my message and we spoke over the phone– not knowing a thing a thing about the other.Neither of us could put into words what seeing the name of an abuser in print for the first time in decades felt like. We validated one another. We heard each other.
Which is something the Catholic Church has yet to do.
Bishop Hying relayed to me that according to the Provincal of Fr. George Kavungal order of CMI, he is not in public ministry nor priest. ( To me that means It is up to the CMI to explain his ministry.)IIn speaking with the Bishop, I spoke to the accuracy and acknowledgements of allegations. There are many who are feeling heard now. And perhaps healing can begin.