At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Wednesday, October 07, 2009

A Privatc Catholic in the Public Square
Ttresdsv. Auqust 4. 2ooo
Our Ladv ofvictorr Parish
Centerville. Massachusetts
By the Honorable Anne M. Burke

f briry this small but iDtluential work up to you this evening belicve Kung and I appear to have come to the same point of
conclusion - though largely from very difierent journelrs, fte
concluslon is this - truthfulnesr (t rra,|tr 't") is ahe Jfutur.e oJr t re
T'his, more than should be thc goal and spirit of the
post-conciliar Church - even forty years later. And I can say tlis -
that truthfulness (both as a vlrtue and glft of the Sptrlt) ts the only
way out ofwhatever tmubles the Churdr present! faces; whether that
ie the sexurl abus€ of minors by some memb€rs of the clersr; or
pastors who cook the books; or the falling number€ in Mass-goers; or
the dwinilling of vocations and lack of clergr to etafi many fariehes;
or the emotional closure of pariches acrose the country; or the
lrertment of women oyer the centurle-s,
Truthfirlnesc, my frienils, ie the light that leads to the Lord.
Personally, I bclieve rrc hal'e nothing to ftar the tt-uth as a
Catholic; as a Justice of thc lllinois Supreme Court or as a mom, St.
Thomas Aquinae says it best - All that is tme, Dy uhomsoeuer it hos
been sald tras its origin fu t le Spi"it
This is tvtrat Kung cuggested in his treatice -ackrowledging that
there was a frech passlorr for truthfirlness ln the zoth Centuryi and
admitting that there had been a historical dicregard for truthfulnees
over the centuries in the Church; higNiShtint that tmthfulness is a
demand of the message of Jesua, lrincelf; andl finalty adrntttirrA thst
truthfirlnesc can be both a challenge and danger - for we must live
wtth the truth we uncog. Tluthfrrlnecs is necessary in moving from
virtue to doctrinc; from ideal to practice; but it is alco an essential,
prac-tical conponent ofreform, both ec.cleslal and personal.
I say thle to 1ou this evening not to elaborate on Father Kung's
personal theolog4 but rather because throughout my years of serice
to the, particularly to the United Strtes C.onference of Catholic
Bishopc as Interim-chair of the body the abuee of
minors by the clergr in our nation - trutbfulnEs tras alroaSrsth e one
virtue that wae hr.rdest to wrinA out of the institution durlng our
investlgadon, Truthfirlne6s, lts€lf, wa.s the vicdm everlnvhere we
I-et me be very clear - trrrthfulness would have stopped the
trapdy of sexual abuce by t}re cleryy; truthfirlne$ would have
prevented the e!:ocion of &ith for many in the aftermath; truthfrrlneea
would have ttabllized vlctims when they r',eported abuse; and
truthfrrlness would haye brouaht a frrller healing and dignity to those
most hurting after going unheard or vilified for years. And
truthfi.dness would have stopl!€d the crisis brought on by the financial
cettlementc th&t afready have bankrupted some dioccacs in our
Ttuthfulness, I belleve, wouJd have made the task bcfore our
National Review Board less painfirl in our own livesi futh6 ness
would have madc some of the leaders we cpoke to more beliearble; tlrreatened; and ma;ibe less crlpable.
- TtuthfuIness would have prcvented some bishops from trying to
deceive even those of us on the National Rcview Board in our efforts
on their behalf.
Truthfulness would have helped fo achieve translnrenclr for
TYuthfulness would have celranted scandal from crime - for the
terrible scandal was most ofall a result orf .the untruth"- the lies. the
deceit and the cover up.
TqriSht, I am not so much interested ln your latowing what our
boaril qid at each step of our lnvesdgNtion, as I am in reltting how I
now believe thrt while we thouSht we were searching for the correct
nurnbers of abuaers and the abused tJrer.,ew as sornething evcn more
profound to rmcover.
As we eouglrt the essendel reasona for how Oris, the greetest of
all scandals in the history ofAmerican Cgthollcism came about, today
I would have to say that what was most important was the discovery
that truthfr ness, itself, had becn tlre first victim to fall. Without
truthfirlness, leadership ilid what it wtlled; dragging the Church into
the murlry world ofbalf-lrrths and cover-up,
Make no mistake - as truthfuln€ss disappeare4 eadr of the
other great virtues became victinrs and faded away as well. Charity
srrffered; kindness was ignored; courage was discarded; and holiness
dieappeared. Character was lraded for secrecy; honor was bartered
for disguise; and moral excellence was silenced before it could utter a

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