• 63°

Other voices: Catholic Church moves in right direction

Monday’s release of a list of clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse marked an important milestone for The Catholic Diocese of Charlotte and its members.

For the diocese, the list is an opportunity to take a fuller accountability for its troubled past. For victims and other faithful, the list is a long-overdue validation of pain that the church both hid and enabled decades ago.

The list comprises 14 clergy credibly accused of child sexual abuse in Charlotte and western North Carolina since the diocese was established in 1972. In addition, the diocese published information about credibly accused clergy prior to 1972, when the Diocese of Raleigh oversaw the Catholic Church across the state. The Charlotte diocese also identified clergy who served here without apparent incident but were on lists published by other dioceses and religious orders.

The release is an important step for the diocese, but it’s one that could be marred by new revelations of missteps by the church nationwide. An Associated Press analysis published late last week revealed that more than 900 Catholic clergy accused of child sexual abuse and other sexual misbehavior were left off of lists released across the United States. Those clergy included members of religious orders or priests arrested for sexual crimes.

The revelations were a setback for the church, and they threatened the trust and healing that dioceses had hoped would come from the release of their lists. In Charlotte, that effort began last year with an exhaustive examination of church records conducted with the help of an independent investigative firm, U.S. Investigative Security Services. Importantly, the Charlotte list includes clergy who were members of religious orders, and investigators did not leave off clergy arrested for child pornography or deceased clergy with only one allegation against them, as other dioceses did.

Rev. Patrick J. Winslow, the vicar general and chancellor of the diocese who oversaw the examination of clergy records, stressed most allegations the diocese is dealing with now involved incidents prior to 2002, when U.S. bishops adopted a charter of policies and protocols involving sex abuse allegations. Since then, he says, the diocese has had a “zero-tolerance approach” that includes swiftly reporting allegations to authorities and removing clergy from ministry. Clearly, things have changed for the better in the church and diocese, and that should bring comfort to the faithful.

Still, policies and protocols are only part of the path toward rebuilding trust.

Winslow and the Charlotte diocese should take immediate action to ensure that its hard work is not undermined. Among the questions that need re-checking or addressing: Were there any clergy not on the diocese list who were arrested or accused of sexual crimes regarding children? Diocese officials also should examine the Associated Press reporting to make sure that clergy who were left off other lists didn’t serve here, and it should quickly address any new questions regarding names that might have been missed.

— The Charlotte Observer

Comments

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges

Local

Rep. Amber Baker discusses legislative session during Rowan Democrats breakfast meeting

Local

Thousands of locals, out-of-towners gather for a groovy time at annual Hippie Fest

News

N.C. Zoo ready for expansion if lawmakers OK funding

Education

RSS budgeting for tens of millions in federal COVID-19 relief funding

East Spencer

‘Back in full swing’ for the spring: East Spencer community gathers for food, fun and fellowship at Spring Fest

Local

Rowan native Lingle among those honored with NC Military Veterans Hall of Fame induction

Business

Former pro baseball player, Tar Heel standout Russ Adams finds new career with Trident Insured

Education

Profoundly gifted: Salisbury boy finishing high school, associates degree at 12

Local

Cheerwine Festival will stick to Main Street, stay away from new park in September

Lifestyle

Celebrating Rowan County’s early cabinetmakers

Education

Service Above Self announces youth challenge winners

Business

Economic Development Commission creates search tool for people seeking Rowan County jobs

Columns

Amy-Lynn Albertson: Arts and Ag Farm Tour set for June 5

High School

High school baseball: Mustangs top Falcons on strength of hurlers

Business

Biz Roundup: Application process now open for Rowan Chamber’s 29th Leadership Rowan class

Sports

Keith Mitchell leads McIlroy, Woodland by 2 at Quail Hollow

Nation/World

States scale back vaccine orders as interest in shots wanes

Nation/World

Major US pipeline halts operations after ransomware attack

News

NC budget dance slowed as GOP leaders differ on bottom line

News

Judge limits footage that family can see of deputy shooting

Coronavirus

People receiving first dose of COVID-19 vaccine grows by less than 1%

Education

Rowan-Salisbury Schools brings Skills Rowan competition back to its roots

Business

Weak jobs report spurs questions about big fed spending