I promised my friend that I would write a column to correct my error. The defensive response of the diocese made it much easier for me to do so. I found it of continuing interest that financial issues can be counted upon to bring the diocese forth. It sounded like the Bishop of Winona corresponded with each parish about the error that I had made in my recent criticism of the Church’s continuing cover-up of sexual abuse.
But predictably the bishop’s response was about the money. It was not about the sexual abuse cover-up.
Since 2008, I have written a total of 10 columns that were critical of the actions of the Church. I have also written a letter to the Bishop of Winona that was critical of the reasons that led the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), the social justice arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to decide not to fund the Land Stewardship Project after having done so for over two decades. I received a written response to that letter and one diocese-wide response about my last column.
Yes, financial issues do wake the sleeping bear. That part I had right. If we hit the Church in the pocket book, the hierarchy will respond. Until such pressure is applied, it seemed, statements from the diocese and archdiocese about the sexual abuse cover-up would continue to have to be drawn out of the bishop and archbishop one lawsuit and one deposition at a time. And the cover-up and poor memories would continue.
When it came to the sexual abuse cover-up, it seemed, the Church hierarchy spoke only through their lawyers.
For too long, that is how it has been…
But I am wrong again.
This week the Diocese of Winona made an announcement. It came to the media with information that appears to be voluntary and not forced by lawsuits and court orders.
I for one, pray that these actions will continue. I for one pray that Bishop Quinn will now reach out to each individual victim that can be identified; that he will apologize to them for the errors of the past bishops of this diocese; and that he will seek their forgiveness – without lawyers at his side.
Please, Bishop Quinn, show us the way to the true heart of the Church. Show us the Christian Way…
We have been waiting far too long.
This commentary was subsequently published June 29, 2014 in the print edition of the Winona Daily News under the title: Diocese of Winona should show us the Christian way.