An Issue of Responsibility


With the recent allegations Or sexual assault at the St. John’s Prep School questions are once again arising as to what really is going on at Saint John’s University. Although there are many ways of being untruthful, the St. John’s community may be particularly guilty of creating the facade that a small utopia exists somewhere slightly beyond one’s view from Interstate 94. As our infamous bell-banner stands above the horizon of evergreens, one envisions a learning environment complete with Christian morality. Unfortunately, recent charges of sexual misconduct threaten that image.

The past year has shown a trend of sexual abuse allegations against members of the Catholic Church at many levels. Personally I don’t think we are seeing an increase of sexual abuse, but rather an increase in reports of the abuse. Yet the fact that people are coming forward and reporting abuse confirms that people have decided that they have had enough of this repulsive situation. But the question remains, are these examinations resulting in positive change?

Last week the archdiocese of St. Paul released a statement regarding a new policy for sexual abuse allegations. The new policy stresses the participation of the layity in investigating cases of sexual abuse. I think this is a good idea. The past has proven that when the participation of the layity is removed from church doings, a very unhealthy situation occurs. Through the interaction of local officials, members of the community, and the church itself, a possible truth is more likely to be found.

Regarding the allegations here at SJU, let our community take a leadership role.While the trend of turning the other cheek seems to be acceptable in many other circles, let’s hope that a full investigation results, and the truth is found at SJU. In a meeting held last week in the Great Hall, church officials stated they would be following up allegations and doing all they could to see that justice prevailed. Let us hope this is case.

Although allegations of sexual abuse are detrimental to SJU’s reputation, knowing that they weren’t followed up properly is potentially disastrous. Fortunately St. John’s, there are a number of ways that those of influence can strive for positive change, but in the mean time I offer a suggestion. We need to evaluate the roll the Catholic clergy. Let us not forget that even the holiest of men are still human. Yes, they can and do make mistakes just like of us, and for this we need to be understanding. But when a common man uses power of religious authority in a way tha physically and and psychologically manipulating, that man should be held responsible his actions in a public court of law, not dispersing responsibility through the bureaucracy of the church.

It is unfortunate that preceding events have created a situation where suspicion surrounds these allegations. It’s all too east find these individuals guilty before their story is heard and for that reason one needs to withhold judgment until it is appropriate. Of course I personally have no idea whether these allegations are substantiated, and I can’t pass judgment while jury is still out. Yet these allegations sexual abuse are serious. They need to followed up in a responsible way that reflects SJU’s dedication to Christian morals, justice and truthfulness.

An issue of responsibility
Let our community take the leading role in truthfulness
Chris Susag – SJU Senior
Collegeville, MN
November 12, 1992


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