Reprinted from the Forward:
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative to United Nations organizations in Geneva, noted that the Catholic Church has been “cleaning its own house” and that other institutions “could do the same” (“Vatican’s New Defense on Child Molestation Charges: Finger-pointing,” October 16).
There is validity to his statement.
While the Catholic Church was dragged kicking and screaming — and the architects of change were the media and Catholic laypeople — there’s no denying that today’s church is different.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a Charter for the Protection of Children that requires counseling for child sex-abuse victims; mandatory reporting to “public authorities” of all child sex-abuse complaints; permanent removal from ministry of any priest or deacon found guilty of even one act of sex abuse, no matter when committed; a mandatory “safe environment” for all youth programs, and mandatory background checks for church personnel.
Outstanding lay groups like Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests and Voice of the Faithful make sure these policies are implemented.
The sad and even ugly truth is that after all the recent headlines, arrests and convictions resulting from abuse scandals, no comparable system exists for American yeshivas. Our ancient rabbis teach, “We should believe there is wisdom among the nations of the world.” This lesson needs to be applied to present-day circumstances.
I suppose nobody likes criticism from outside their own religious or cultural milieu, but facts are facts, and truth is essential if genuine and constructive change is going to occur in the Jewish world.
Elliot B. Pasik
Jewish Board of Advocates for Children
Long Beach, N.Y.