Be open with investigation
Unfortunately, our new Bishop, Mark Brennan doesn’t get it. He was sent to our state after the betrayal of the Diocese by former Bishop Michael Bransfield. Bransfield took $21 million from the Diocese and Wheeling Hospital to spend on an extravagant lifestyle and gifts for high ranking priests and clerics. In addition, he was credibly accused of sexually harassing seminarians; reports to the Diocese of Philadelphia that he had sexually molested a minor were never investigated. To his credit, Bishop Brennan says that “people want this issue to be resolved.” However, he is insulting and dangerous when he states “people want the scandal to kind of go away.” That is the fantasy language of children. Make the boogeyman go away. Boeing had a scandal when the 737 Max’s crashed. We don’t want “the scandal to kind of go away;” we don’t want planes to crash. Boeing had to dig for the truth, be open about all their failures, and compensate their victims.
Brennan should do no less. Investigate thoroughly. Everything. What happened? How did the leadership fail to pick up Bransfield’s sexual harassment of young men or his financial dealings? Prosecute criminal acts. Implement professional procedures. Complete the investigation into reports he molested a minor. Publicize the whole report by Bishop Lori before the media does. Open the books to everyone. Name those credibly accused of abusing others.
Follow the money. Bishop Lori got a $10,000 gift from Bransfield, and Lori withheld that information from the Pope. Lori should not have been asked to investigate a man who gave him a $10,000 gift, not if trust is at risk. Establish safe processes for people to report abuses. Hold whistleblowers in high esteem. Urge people to question you and your policies and procedures til there is no doubt left that you are doing everything possible. Sexual abuse by clerics should automatically be reported to law enforcement and not handled by the diocese alone. Respectfully ask what the victims want for restoration/compensation. Ask experts for help in keeping the church safe from pedophiles. The Catholic leadership must hold itself accountable because it is accountable to the people it serves. To restore trust, you must restore a process which ensures the next plane will not crash, the next child will not be abused. Jesus never said sin would “kinda go away.” Brennan underestimates our love for our children, the church, and the truth.