Victory for Protection of Children

Last Friday, a judge in San Diego ordered the Diocese of San Diego to release over 10,000 documents detailing the Diocese’s failings in its handling of child sexual abuse by its clergy.  The documents come from personnel files of individual offending priests credibly accused who were known child abusers yet were moved from parish to parish, diocese to diocese, and often never removed from ministry.   We commend the court for ordering these documents released, but we do so with regret that this order did not come sooner.   Over the years that the church was allowed to continue to fight to keep these documents secret, the church maintained its norm of hiding the truth while resisting transparency.  These San Diego documents show an institutional avoidance of scandal and an effort to preserve the reputation of the church and its clergy at the expense of victims.  All of this secrecy is at the expense of the safety of our kids.   The Catholic Church continues to fight nationwide to keep personnel and church files addressing its handling of priests who abuse children secret by seeking protective orders from courts.  The church should not be allowed to fight the production of documents merely to protect its own reputation and to avoid scandal.   Children are protected from future harm when documents are disclosed, pattern and practices are exposed and the truth comes to light.  We urge courts around the country to follow the lead of this California judge and others who have demanded the exposure and resisted the Catholic church’s shameful attempts to hide the truth.  The release of these documents, while overdue, is a victory for survivors of child sex abuse and for our children.