Monday, January 30, 2006

Put her in charge!

All hail Judge Anne Burke, an Illinois appellate judge and former chair of the National Lay Review Board, which was created by the U.S. bishops to monitor compliance with their own Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Burke was not willing to take even the smallest bit of nonsense from Monsignor Francis Maniscalco, a spokes-priest for the U.S. bishops' conference, who said that the National Lay Review Board was "not a court of appeals on individual cases." Burke had argued the the NLRB should investigate the sex-abuse case unfolding on Chicago's west side.

Burke's response, as reported by the Chicago Sun-Times:

"Monsignor Maniscalco is being disingenuous. The National Review Board should be asking the Office of Child and Youth Protection to investigate and audit whether or not the archdiocese has followed the charter!

"Did the archdiocese include these allegations [against McCormack] in their most recent audit given to the Office of Child and Youth Protection? I think not. They are [legally] mandated to do so.

"If the National Review Board, which was created by the bishops who in turn set up the Office of Child and Youth Protection for the purpose of auditing dioceses, can't ask the Child and Youth office to look into it, then who can?

"The bishops weren't supposed to decide whether the complaint was substantiated! That's why they set up the review board. They wrote the charter to restore trust. The review board in turn would make a determination on whether allegations were substantiated after an investigation was conducted by the Office of Child and Youth

"I can assure you the archdiocese didn't include these allegations in their audit presented to the National Review Board six months ago.

And as for Cardinal George's complaint that the family of the victim wouldn't cooperate, Burke responded:

"Many times victims do not cooperate. That doesn't let you off the hook. You look further. It doesn't let the police off the hook. They investigate further.

"Administrative suspension pending investigation is what normally happens. One doesn't need to wait for temporary removal until criminal charges are filed. It could be too late by then.

"The bottom line: Children need to be protected, and the church needs to rebuild trust."

I got to be a part of an interview with Judge Burke, and all I can say is that if we had more people like her at the top--lay and ordained--our church would be a different place. She's done a great service to all of us by her refusal to knuckle under to episcopal pressure, and children in Catholic churches and schools are a lot safer because of her.


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