It is no secret that the Catholic Church has had a problem with the sexual molestation of children by some in their ranks. It is also no secret that some coverups have occurred, allowing those responsible to continue abusing children.
Despite stories like this first coming to the surface decades ago, more horror stories continue to come to light, showing there is still an ongoing problem in the church. Most recently, and perhaps most horrifying, is the the grand jury finding that “301 priests in (Pennsylvania) had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years,” according to Reuters.
Members of the faith have expressed their frustration and outrage. Even Pope Francis penned a letter promising no more coverups of such crimes.
But now, it seems someone has taken it upon himself to dispense justice, with a violent attack against an Indiana priest. Vigilantism such as this cannot be condoned in a civilized society, especially not when perpetrated against the innocent.
According to Fox News, 64-year-old Rev. Basil John Hutsko of St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Munster was brutally attacked by an unknown assailant. The attacker repeatedly smashed Hutsko’s head upon the floor.
Hutsko said the attacker told him, “This is for all the kids.”
The Chicago Tribune reported the attack is being investigated as a hate crime.
Rev. Steven Koplinka from St. Nicholas Byzantine told the paper that Husko was the last person who deserved such treatment.
“He’s a good priest and like everybody said, he’s not accused of anything. Why attack him?” Koplinka said.
Perhaps the attacker, like some others, was not convinced that the pope’s letter would actually change anything. Anne Barrett-Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, told Reuters that what was needed was, “More actions, less words. (The pope) needs an effective discipline process for bishops and religious superiors who are known to have enabled abuse.”
The report on the clerical sexual abuse in #Pennsylvania is a tremendous shock for the Church. "The abuse of minors is a sacrilege," said #PopeFrancis three years ago when meeting a group of abuse victims in Philadelphia.https://t.co/kahMVSr0v5
— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) August 18, 2018
Adding to the frustration of many, the Los Angeles Times reported that at least 1,000 children were victims of the Pennsylvania sexual abuse scandal. And the newspaper pointed out that in his statement, Pope Francis didn’t “provide any indication of what concrete measures he is prepared to take to sanction those bishops — in the U.S. and beyond — who covered up for sexually abusive priests.”
None of that, of course, justifies the attack on Hutsko. It may, however, explain, at least in part, why the attack is being viewed as a potential hate crime.
It also may serve as a harsh reminder that non-violent and legal actions do need to be taken, and sooner rather than later. The Los Angeles Times noted that despite Francis’ words against the sexual abuse of children and ensuing coverups, he has done little to change it.
“Francis several years ago scrapped a proposed Vatican tribunal to prosecute negligent bishops, and he has refused to act on credible reports from around the world of bishops who have failed to report abusers to police or otherwise botched handling cases, yet remain in office,” the newspaper reported
“Francis also has kept on his nine-member kitchen cabinet a Chilean cardinal long accused of covering up for pedophiles, an Australian cardinal currently on trial for historic sexual abuse charges and a Honduran cardinal recently implicated in a gay priest sex scandal involving his trusted deputy.”
Even when he pressured 31 active bishops in Chile to resign following a child sex abuse scandal there, Francis only accepted five of the resignations.
As Pope Francis stated in his letter, “With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.
“We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.”
Clearly to some, the pope needs to do a much better job of making his actions match his words.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.