Notre Dame News | October 4, 2018
The University of Notre Dame is proud of its Catholic mission, and the ways in which that mission enhances its education and scholarly efforts and enriches our University community. Yet the recent Pennsylvania grand jury report about six Catholic dioceses, as well as other reports in the news, have been a cause not of pride, but of sadness, anger and shame. We are unspeakably sad at the damage done to the lives of so many victims and angry at those who betrayed a sacred trust. We are ashamed that institutions dedicated to drawing people to holiness, educating the young and defending the dignity of all should be places where some of its ministers corrupted people, exploited the young and so violated their dignity. I share the anguish of many.
In recent weeks I have spoken to a number of people and reflected on how Notre Dame might respond, and I write to share our thoughts and plans. We must look at Notre Dame’s own history, actions and policies and also look for ways in which it can assist the Church. We will not single-handedly solve problems, but we can contribute to understanding, healing and constructive change.
Abuse of Minors
The gravest offenses are those against minors, those under 18 years old. Abuse may occur in other contexts, but the violation of innocent children by Catholic clergy is most heinous, for these men were given a sacred trust of being ministers of God’s care and love to young people. In abusing those in their care, they not only cause serious psychological damage, but can steal the sense of the sacred from the child.
While abuse was prevalent in past decades in the six Pennsylvania dioceses that were the subject of the grand jury report, two of the estimated one thousand cases reported and dealt with occurred after more stringent policies were put in place in 2002. Nothing can change the damage that transpired, and even one case is too many, but the reduction in cases indicates that it is possible to take concrete steps that will dramatically reduce the instances of abuse.
Read more here.