I am still concerned, however.
A central theme of Bishop of Winona John Quinn’s response during the settlement announcement seemed to be the following:
“'We are ashamed of the horrific crimes that Thomas Adamson has perpetrated against children in our Diocese and in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis,' said Winona Bishop John Quinn in a prepared statement.”
Bishop Quinn, it seems, still does not understand what the Lawsuit was about in the first place. This lawsuit was not about what Thomas Adamson did. It was about what the two dioceses did (or rather didn’t do). The lawsuits charged that the two dioceses, not Thomas Adamson, were “public nuisances” because of their responses to then Fr. Adamson’s behavior.
As horrific as Thomas Adamson’s crimes may have been, the fact remains that he was NOT reported to authorities by church officials. He was hidden from authorities and from parishioners for decades. Perhaps even worse, the truths of the realities of his victims were denied by church officials. Attitudes that “little boys heal” prevailed within church leadership in justifying the illegal cover-up of these “horrific crimes.” And that attitude wrecked the very lives of Adamson’s victims.
Indeed, the lawsuit asserted that the church was complicit. It asserted that these horrific crimes were made more so by the actions of these two dioceses; that the response of the dioceses was horrific as well.
That’s what this lawsuit was about.
Yet, there was no remorse in Bishop Quinn’s words.
It appears that while church officials have been backed into a corner sufficiently tight to force such settlements, they are still unwilling to take responsibility for their past behaviors. They are still unwilling to acknowledge their own wrongs. The message they want to send is that they are changing because they will now do better to detect and deal with abuse that happens during their watch. But that message does not look back at what church officials had been doing. That message does not acknowledge the church’s role in these “horrific crimes.”
At least one of the victims who were present at the settlement announcement seems to have detected that as well. From the Daily News story:
"'The church is no longer our enemy in this. They are our ally,' said Al Michaud, a victim of clergy abuse. 'I'm going to admit that I'm skeptical ... but I hope everything I'm hearing today is true.'"
He has every right to remain skeptical.
Published by the Winona Daily News on October 19, 2014.