It has been painful the past few weeks to watch the situation with the Archdiocese St. Paul and Minneapolis develop. Whether or not you are Catholic, the issue of child sex abuse, especially by clergy of any denomination, is a serious one. The fact that it continues to affect the Catholic Church can be frustrating.
The crux of the crisis with the archdiocese goes beyond the fact of the abuse that happened, but how the archdiocese has reportedly reacted in the past to allegations and reports of clerical sex abuse. Have archdiocesan officials reacted in a manner that would protect children and church members, or in a manner that would protect the church's reputation?
It is a truth that has been apparent in the U.S. since the Watergate scandal that it's not the crime, but the coverup that causes the most problems. When an organization - political, religious, whatever - finds itself dealing with the wrongdoing of a member or faction, the best course of action (and the hardest, it seems) is to come clean, denounce the wrongdoing, excise it from the organization and reaffirm that the organization is on the proper path. It is all too tempting to cover up, to hush up, to deny and to circle the wagons.
Archbishop John Nienstedt has publicly apologized for any wrongdoing the church may have been involved in. He now needs to take forceful leadership action to ensure the archdiocese is on the right path.