We see institutions making changes to their policies about sexual abuse of minors from Churches to the Boy Scouts of America. I only know of what is happening with the Roman Catholic Church, so I am going to speak on that. But isn’t it a little too late to do the right thing now? I mean I am glad that they are taking these steps to accurately address and suppress the abuse that has been happening for as long as we can think back; but it seems like it is only because they were caught; not because the safety of our children is their top priority.
When is it ever going to be enough? There is nothing that they can do to rectify the years of pain, trauma, total destruction of the youth they have allowed to happen; is a civil remedy going
to help? Maybe, but it will hurt the pocketbooks of the institution that has continued to allow these things to happen...and that's a start.
You can't put a price on trauma that will last for a lifetime, but that's exactly what they are doing. In my own case against the Archdiocese of Detroit, mainly Fr. Dennis C. Laesch who was removed from ministry but has not been laicized at the time of this article; Fr. Laesch was supposed to be removed from public ministry and sent to a monastery permanently, instead he was moved to a new parish until the Dallas Charter of the USCCB came about and I went to the press regarding Cardinal Adam Maida, then Archbishop of Detroit breaking his word and the agreement for the settlement by keeping Fr. Laesch in public ministry was forced to remove Fr. Laesch from ministry.
It took me contacting the Monsignor in charge of complaints of clergy sexual abuse for the Archdiocese of Detroit to make them aware that Fr. Laesch was still acting in the capacity of clergy; performing ceremonies and assisting at a metro Detroit parish where he has access to youth on a regular basis. I was told that the AOD cannot keep an eye on every priest removed from ministry, and that the Monsignor had contacted Fr. Laesch to come in and discuss things numerous times but he refused to come in, refused to voluntarily laicize and instead the Monsignor decided that he should probably contact the Vatican for a forced laicization some 25 years after the incident.
This goes to show that the church in particular is not taking things seriously, even after all the survivors who have come forward. The Catholic Church has a program called "Safe Environment," whereas anyone working with children goes through a few hours of training and a background check; but what happens in cases like Fr. Laesch who wasn't criminally charged? They allow a predator to have access to our children
once again as Fr. Laesch appears to not be a threat and has no problem getting into ministry with priests who are on his side and who are already considered problem priests. Last I knew Fr. Laesch was working in lay ministry at St. Benedict's Catholic Church in Waterford, Michigan under the supervision of Fr. James Mayworm; who initially sponsored Fr. Laesch into the priesthood and had been a close friend. What does this say about the validity of "Safe Environment" program?
There are similar programs instituted by other organizations; but again do they really help? And how come it took the Dallas Charter of the USCCB so many years to act on what has been an issue for hundreds of years? Again, because they were caught is the only reason why. The church does not have the trust of the faithful like it once had as more and more survivors are coming forward; and even to this day there is still abuse going on against our children. What can truly be done to protect our children? Putting certain restrictions in place is a start; but how about tougher psychological testing for clergy, tougher background checks for lay ministry and anyone working with children? One thing is for sure; the Catholic Church is anything but a "Safe Environment."
Kelly P. Cresswell
Vice President of Operations
Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse (SCSA)
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