Fonticulus Fides

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Being Non-Compliant

As a parishoner in the Lincoln, Nebraska Diocese, I've been meaning to blog about the whole non-compliance thing. Been a little busy, obviously. So anyway, here goes.

Our Diocese published Lincoln's results the Saturday before the report itself became public. This is because our Bishop wanted everybody locally to know the skinny before the nationwide media broadcast it. Our Bishop has been very forthright throughout the whole scandal -- he's not playing hide and seek as some speculate.

Regarding Diocesean behavior during the scandal and initial recovery stage, information has been continually made available in every parish throughout the Diocese. There is no sense of covering things up, paying people off, etc. here.

After the report came out on January 6, there was obviously a rise in scuttle regarding the Lincoln Diocese. All three Nebraska Dioceses were considered "non-compliant" but Omaha and Grand Island have said that though they weren't compliant at the time of their audits, they are now. Lincoln stands out as saying, "Okay, we're not totally compliant and we're not going to comply." Which of course on the surface sounds pretty bad.

In this week's Diocesean newspaper, there is more clarification from the Bishop on this issue. I'll share it here -- it's long, but I'll try to do the Cliff's Notes version for you.


A. The Diocese has been, is, and always will be in complete compliance with Church and State laws.

B. The Diocese's policy has always been to report child abuse immediately to civil law enforcement authorities, regardless if the offender is a priest or other religious or not.

C. The Charter passed by the USCCB does not have the force of Church Law, so it is incorrect to assume that the Charter is obligatory.
In other words, the Lincoln Diocese is "non-compliant" to a completely voluntary set of recommendations. Since the Charter isn't equal to Church Law (nor has the USCCB sought to have the Holy See make it so), no Diocese is required to meet all its recommendations.

D. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice study was commissioned by The National Lay Review Board, not the Holy See or the USCCB, and participation is not required by either the Holy See or the USCCB.

E. While the Lincoln Diocese has nothing to hide regarding sexual abuse by clergy, after careful consideration, the Diocese has elected not to participate in the John Jay study. Lincoln is not the only Diocese to refuse to participate, since most if not all Latin Rite Dioceses and some Eparchies are not participating either.

F. There are 10 reason why the Bishop has decided that Lincoln will not contribute to the study:

1. The study is not directed at developing programs for the protection of young people, which is the intent of the Charter.

2. The study could result in serious sins against the eighth commandment, such as slander.

3. The study includes information from inconclusive and anonymous allegations, which may be suspect.

4. Many of the accused (nationwide) are dead and therefore unable to answer allegations or defend themselves.

5. Equivalent studies have not/are not being conducted for pedophile scandals in other sectors of U.S. society (i.e., Protestant denominations, public school teachers, scout/club leaders, etc.), even though there is evidence that pedophiles use those authority positions to prey on the innocent as well.

6. The US Federal Government Office of Health and Human Services refused to grant a certificate of confidentiality for the study.

7. The study does not place its results within the context of the overwhelming majority of priests who did not and will not ever commit any sexual abuse of minors.

8. The study employs self-reporting without regard to the potential inflation and deflation of information.

9. About one-third of all Catholic Clergy in the U.S. are not included in the study, which also skews results.

10. The results of the study are to be owned by John Jay College, not the USCCB.


The Diocese's final word: "The study, like the Charter, while having some positive aspects, can be fairly judged as defective and flawed, and not useful for the Diocese of Lincoln."

Personally, I agree with most of these concerns. The study seems to be something of a examination of deviant behavior with little regard for accuracy. It seems like it's meant only to feed the sick fascination with the obscene/corrupt/lewd that appears prevalent here in the U.S. Not unlike when Elizabeth Smart was returned to her family and all over the news broadcasts, people cared most to speculate whether or not she'd been sexually molested, instead of focussing on her amazing ability to survive and reunite with her parents.

Likewise what tantilizing fodder in this scandal! Priests who are supposed to stand for goodness and morality, abusing minors. Yeah, that's movie-of-the-week material right there. The study is going to happen regardless of what Bishop Bruskewitz does, but I can see why he doesn't feel it would be of any purpose to participate in it.

That's my take on it. Opinions?



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