We’re appalled and shocked at the arrogance of the Bishop McCort Board of Trustees. It is beyond comprehension what the trustees – many of them longtime community leaders – write about the sexual scandal issue involving Brother Stephen Baker.
In a piece appearing in today’s Tribune-Democrat, the board informs our readers and others that “The time has come for the community to accept that it may never know that which it does not know, and begin the healing process. To do any less is to harm those who have already been victimized and undermine the future of Bishop McCort.”
In other words, the board has no intention of coming clean and informing the public, even you who long have supported this school with your hard-earned dollars, about what it knows or has learned about Baker’s alleged assaults on many of McCort’s students.
This would be much like Penn State’s administrators and trustees saying, “Forget what you have heard about Jerry Sandusky. Trust us and move on.”
We worry that the future of Bishop McCort may very well hinge on the outcome of lawsuits involving Baker, lawsuits that could result in millions of dollars in restitution.
If, as some contend, leaders at the 8th Ward school were aware of years of wrongdoing by Baker – and did nothing to stop it and address it – then there is no reason to be concerned about the “long-term future” mentioned in today’s front-page piece.
We’re all too aware that sexual assault issues long stored in a veil of secrecy by the Roman Catholic Church brought huge financial payouts and cost the church countless numbers of lifelong members.
Surely those on McCort’s board are aware of what happens by being anything but totally up-front and honest with people.
There is no question that Bishop McCort has enjoyed enviable successes as an educational and spiritual institution.
We long have touted the success stories of their students current and past. We want nothing more than a continuation of this top-notch, proud institution.
But we question the moral guidance being displayed and message being sent by those leaders who approved today’s sickening statement.
Obviously and with good reason, the board has concerns about the long-term financial health of McCort and is doing what it believes best to assure its supporters. Telling them simply to just move on is not the way to do that.
A strong tradition becomes even stronger by facing adversity with honesty, integrity and forthrightness. Not by attempting to sweep it under the rug, telling people to block it out of their minds, and simply hoping it will go away.
How can you begin a healing process without discussing the problems?
The advice we have offered before and continue to offer Bishop McCort administrators and leaders is to talk about the Baker issue. Accept any responsibilities. Learn from it. And then think about moving on.