Diocese Should Stop Keeping Secrets

It’s well past time for the Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport to stop fighting the court-ordered release of documents concerning sexual abuse by priests.

The cases were settled in 2001, and newspapers, including The Courant, have been fighting ever since to have the files unsealed. The state Superior and Supreme courts agree, but the diocese is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Monday, the nation’s high court refused to block the release of the documents. A hearing is scheduled for Nov. 9 on how they will be made public.

This does not bode well for the diocese’s other request still before the justices in Washington – for a hearing on the constitutional issues in the case. Isn’t it time for the diocese to give up its obsessive fight on behalf of secrecy, clergy members and church leaders who ignored allegations or reassigned those suspected of abusing children?

The cleric now in charge of Bridgeport diocese, Bishop William Lori, says an important principle is involved: the church’s First Amendment right to “not be compelled to disclose internal documents relating to hierarchical determinations regarding fitness for ministry.”

So protect the mighty at all costs. So much for the rights of victims of abuse or the public’s confidence in the hierarchy.

“It really is about the future, not the past,” Bishop Lori says. The future for both the abused and the diocese will be better once this particular past is disinfected with sunlight.