Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Veil of religion no more

More news from the Catholic Church on Wednesday, as Pope John Paul II accepted the resignation of a Palm Beach bishop who admitted to molesting a teenager in a Missouri seminary some 25 years ago.

Bishop Anthony J. O’Connell stepped down last Friday after allegations against him were printed in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

In a statement issued by the diocese, spokesman Sam Barbaro said, “It’s a sad day for the diocese. Bishop O’Connell was much loved by the people and admired. But we must obey the Vatican’s determination on this.”

Well, yes. You do.

To think that abuse among members of the clergy has continued for as long as it has, and has remained unreported is horrendous. To add to that the fact that some individuals (let’s say, Cardinal Bernard Law) still support these criminals by covering their tracks is atrocious and unforgivable. To make statements like this, after the accused has acknowledged his guilt and resigned, attesting to the good nature of the man is absolutely unthinkable.

The Catholic Church needs to employ full disclosure when dealing with similar cases. In no circumstances should they be allowed to hide behind the veil of the religion and keep secret the devastation that has been brought upon the lives of countless young children. And if that course of action causes embarrassment? Good. The loss of face suffered should only be the beginning of a process that limits the freedom these individuals have wrongly been enjoying for years.

The news of O’Connell’s resignation came on the same day that The Globe ran a story of other religions plagued by similar misconducts. Hare Krishna temples are reportedly declaring bankruptcy in order to cover the legal costs of defending against abuse allegations.

Regardless of denominations, the same rules apply:

Any individual who has committed a crime, particularly against a child, should have his/her job terminated as well as all related privileges. They should not be shuttled from place to place. They should not be hidden under a veil of secrecy.

It seems like common sense, and the argument has been repeated time and again, in this publication and others. For those involved with the church, however, the message seems to have been lost. For whatever reason, they continue to ignore the general welfare of those they allegedly serve and cover their own tracks.

With their indiscretions now in the open and subject to public criticism, The Collegian hopes that similar actions are taken, and that other offenders take the steps to remove themselves. It seems simple enough. Until the church grasps that concept, however, it’s an unfortunate situation we’ll be mired in for some time.

Information from and was used in this article.

Unsigned editorials represent the majority opinion of The Collegian editorial board.

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