Re "Patterns of abuse," Opinion, Dec. 16
Sister Sheila McNiff feels "confident that the steps to prevent abuse ... have resulted in a safer environment for all of our children and young people." I wish I could say the same. Unfortunately, nothing the Los Angeles Archdiocese has done, especially under the guidance of Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, is sufficient to alleviate my fears.
McNiff insists that the cases of abuse dropped off during the 1980s because of actions taken by the church. But in most cases involving rape, incest and molestation, the victim rarely goes running to authorities or parents for comfort, much less to reveal the culprit. There is no reliable data to prove that abuse has stopped altogether.
I also find it disturbing that although Mahony interfered in a criminal investigation, he has come out unscathed.
The only way the archdiocese can come clean is to release all files on priests who have allegedly molested children to law enforcement and allow it to complete its investigations.
Until then, McNiff's tame speech will only be seen for what it is, a public relations gesture.
I don't believe that the statistics in this article necessarily mean that there is now less abuse in the L.A. Archdiocese. If many victims come forward only when they become adults, the lower numbers for the recent years might spike as current victims grow up. In fact, the numbers in the early years of Mahony's administration are as high as 40 years ago.
The statistics that would indicate that there are truly fewer cases happening now are the number of people with criminal backgrounds who were disqualified from working in the ministry and thus were prevented from abusing, and how many cases after one allegation were successfully prosecuted or resulted in a person being permanently removed from ministry. These actions would result in lower statistics now and in the future.
I hope that the Victims Assistance Ministry has such numbers that indicate the archdiocese is promptly expelling the perpetrators of sexual abuse and protecting children, so that many families will be saved from the painful scars of sexual abuse.