This week’s headlines have rocked the college football world. News that the Penn State knowingly harbored and did not report a pedophile in their midst has everyone calling for justice. The graduate assistant, who is now an assistant coach for the university, has had threats made against him. First Head Coach Joe Paterno was retiring at the end of the season, now the board of trustees has fired him. Too little, too late Penn State.
Just like the Catholic Church’s priest abuse scandal, Penn State turned a blind eye. Officials worried more about endowments, football records, and the winningest coach in college football’s legacy. Shame on them. The Catholic Church did not defrock, excommunicate nor report knowing pedophiles to the police. They simply moved these priests to parishes where there were no children. This is not only illegal, it is immoral. You do not touch children in a sexual way. Ever. If you do and someone knows about it, you are under an ethical and moral obligation to tell authorities. I do not care who they are; how much good they’ve done nor how successful they are; you tell. I do not care if your state law says you do not have to report it to the police. Do it anyway. It’s that simply. Really.
The two scandals have a familiar, but destructive, ring: “Surely this could not be. I know this person. I’ve been in his house, blah, blah, blah. What will this do to our organization?” Dumb ass justification because look what it’s done after the fact. You are no longer a trusted organization. Your reputation is in tatters. The press is on your doorstep. You should have been proactive when you had the chance instead of reactive after the news story broke. You should have fired everyone involved. You should have reported it. It’s that simply. Really.
When you put men, or women, on pedestals you ignore the facts. People are human and sin; sometimes in a big way. When you begin to believe that someone is perfect and put them on pedestals because they are your priest, Boy Scout leader or head coach, their fall from grace will be hard. Do not tamp down your ethos. Do not ignore the warning signs that are there. Do not fall prey to preserving the institution instead of seeking justice. Just as a pedophile is judged by God, so will you be for your inaction. Is that what you want discuss as you stand before your maker? While I am sure the the Penn State graduate assistant was in shock, if the school did not report this to the authorities, he should have. He should have stopped the rape as it occurred. It’s that simple. Really.
My Catholicism teaches me to hate the sin but love the sinner. I get it. But it, nor the Bible, does not say to turn a blind eye to pedophilia. Some of you will wonder why I am still Catholic. My relationship is with God, not my priest nor the institution. But I do not care who you are or what your standing is in the community. The buck stops with me if you have knowingly harmed someone. You should face charges and be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
It’s that simple. Really.