Thursday, June 19, 2003

Governor Keating Defends Himself in the NY Times Today

From the NY Times:

A few opponents of the board have said we went too far, engaging in what one resistant diocesan newspaper termed a "witch hunt." Again, I do not agree. This is not about pilfering Saturday night bingo proceeds; it concerns horrific actions by a small cadre of priests who have victimized hundreds — perhaps thousands — of children and adolescents, and defiled the institution they claimed to serve.

Sexual abuse leaves lifelong emotional scars. In the past year, I met with many victims of abuse. I heard their heartbreaking stories of damaged lives and broken trust. I pledged to them that they would have a voice, and I am convinced that they will continue to be heard, if only because most Catholics know that right is on their side.

Sadly, a few church leaders, including some in large dioceses, chose to resist and obstruct the board. When we asked valid questions, they gave us few or no answers. Where information and cooperation was called for, we received delay or an outright refusal to help.

These few leaders turned to their lawyers when they should have looked into their hearts — and I expressed my disgust with them. I am a candid person, and that makes some people uncomfortable. So be it. Obstructing justice, excusing and concealing those who victimize innocent children: these are not the actions of holy men. They are sins — and they are crimes. God may hold them accountable in the next world, but we will certainly hold them accountable in this one.

Those who have sought to block the board are few, and I am convinced they will remain ineffective. From Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, to the many parish priests and members of the laity who wrote or called me, I am grateful — for their support, but most of all grateful that they understand how vital it is to restore trust in our church.

That work continues. With God's help, it will succeed in cleansing the church of a vast stain.