Clergy abuse should not be a political football

Michael Sarafa

Michael Sarafa

Call me cynical but the timing of an announcement of an investigation into the seven Catholic Dioceses in Michigan is politically charged, coming just six weeks before election day.

The State of Michigan is asking people to report abuse by priests or other religious figures between 1950 and the present. Suddenly, it seems, it’s time to investigate the Catholic Church over a time period going back 70 years.

I am not in this space suggesting that this should not be done or that Michigan was somehow immune to the international crisis in the Catholic Church that caused and continues to cause so much pain and suffering. But there are three things that happened that I believe cast a shadow on the intentions.

First, as mentioned above, we are on the heels of a statewide election. Second, we have seen a penchant for going after figures and institutions with investigations of state and local officials related to the Flint water crisis and a whole series of political moves related to the Nasser scandal at Michigan State University.

My stomach churned a little at the site of a TV commercial that touted handling of the Nasser case. The idea of exploiting this disgusting chapter in Michigan State history did not sit well with me. I believe that it will not sit well, either, with Michigan voters. Frankly, it casts a dark shadow on the capabilities and instincts of those political advisors that would create such an ad.

Finally, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania released a devastating report on abuse at most of the state’s Dioceses that involved hundreds of priests and thousands of victims over seven decades. That Pennsylvania official gained instant fame on the national stage. No doubt people were watching.

Clearly, the more light that is shone on these terrible events, the more victims have an opportunity to come forward, the more abusers that are outed, the better for all involved. Victims need justice and healing. Perpetrators need to pay their debt to their victims and to society. The Catholic Church needs to bring itself as an institution out of the dark ages.

Thus, this type of investigation should be welcome. But the fact that this issue is seemingly being exploited for political purposes diminishes it’s import and potentially insults the victims. Sexual abuse of minors and adults should never be politicized.

Go ahead, call me a cynic.

Michael Sarafa is Co-publisher of
the Chaldean News.