Release of abusers’ names is a good first step for local Catholic diocese

How many times have we heard — from the Jerry Sandusky case, to the Larry Nassar case, to countless other lesser-known cases of child sex abuse — that the only thing needed for the abuse to go on unchecked and undetected for months, years and decades is silence?

The leadership of the Catholic Church for far too long has not only kept relatively quiet about the vast number of its own clergy who have been accused and convicted of molesting children, it often actively sought to protect the perpetrators from the accusations being made public.

So, Wednesday’s announcement from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg (which includes Mifflin and Juniata counties) releasing the names of 71 people (some dating back to the 1940s) who had been affiliated with the diocese and accused of child sex abuse in addition to outlining new procedures for reporting new cases was a welcome change.

The diocese also apologized to the victims of child sex abuse and acknowledged that the inaction of church leadership played a very significant role in allowing the abuse to continue for as long as it did.

Bishop Ronald Gainer sought to reassure not only those with children in the Catholic church, but parents of students in Catholic schools that the diocese’s churches and schools are places where children will be protected.

“The safety and well-being of our children is too important not to take immediate and definitive action,” Gainer said in a press release.

Absolutely.

Thursday’s announcement is striking in its different tone. It seems like those in leadership positions within the Catholic Church (at least locally) finally understand this problem is far too big for the church alone to solve.

It doesn’t undo what has already been done. But it at least takes monumental steps forward in the effort to prevent this from happening in the future.

It won’t solve the problem entirely, but it’s at least a good first step — one the leadership of the Catholic Church has needed to take for a long time.

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