Apologies aren’t enough

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Boston Herald

 27 March 2010

 By Boston Herald Editorial Staff

 The stories out of Europe – first Ireland, now Germany – of pedophile priests and a church in denial come all too close to home for us here.

 The pattern is one we have become sadly familiar with. A troubled priest caught molesting boys in his parish is sent for therapy and then transferred to another unsuspecting parish by those who should have known better, who should have put the welfare of children above all else – but didn’t. So then more children are subject to abuse and the question becomes who knew what and when. And why was nothing ever done.

 The scandal has now reached the Vatican itself. The New York Times [NYT] reported yesterday that then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, presided over a meeting of his diocesan council on Jan. 15, 1980, at which a priest accused of molesting three boys in the Essen Diocese less than a month earlier is transferred to Munich and returned to pastoral duties by Feb. 1 that year.

 It is as shocking a story as it is familiar – with some church officials scrambling to insist that the future Pope Benedict XVI could not have been aware of the details of the case and others that meeting accounts and memos are designed to shield more information than they reveal.

The priest in question, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, was finally convicted of abusing boys at yet another parish in 1986.

Just last weekend the pope apologized to Irish Catholics for the church’s mishandling of sexual abuse cases there – and yet no disciplinary action has been taken against those involved.

 And still presiding over Rome’s St. Mary Major Basilica is Cardinal Bernard Law, whose gross neglect of the children in this community will never be forgotten.

Apologies are just empty words without the will to make changes and to punish those responsible for so much pain.

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