A reader writes:
I had a similar experience as your reader's. The Episcopal church I go to in Upstate NY got word of sexual abuse by a rector who had left the parish almost 20 years ago. For six months they investigated secretly and found more who were abused. They invited the entire parish to an emergency meeting to tell us what happened before we found out in the papers. It was a sad meeting, of course. Many of us worried out-loud if our parish would recover.
The abuser was banned from the church. The parish instituted more awareness programs. People didn’t leave the parish in droves. Here’s hoping that the Pope will start trusting Catholics with internal secrets.
Here is an even more relevant story from the Episcopal Church. A brief summary:
While Charles Bennison was a young rector of a parish in California in the 1970s, his brother John, a seminarian who was working as the youth minister in the same parish, was having sex with several parishioners, including a 14-year-old girl. Eventually, John left the parish and the priesthood (yes, he was ordained anyway!). Although Charles knew of this scandal, however, he said nothing to the police about the 14-year-old.
In 1998, Charles becomes bishop of Pennsylvania, but the story gets out about his brother and his shenanigans. Charles’s failure to contact the police at the time causes a furor in 2006. The result: Charles Bennison is officially brought up on charges by the church hierarchy and deposed. Bennison is appealing the sentence, but this is a prime example of a church taking responsibility by firing one its bishops.