Your Turn: Abbey charts right path for Catholics

[Webmaster’s Note: The author appears to be yet another of the abbey’s puppets, speaking not from experience but from text provided by a compromised leadership. Can Mr. Frey name five of the 240+ victims, five of the 40+ alleged perpetrators and/or five members of the review board?]

Your Turn: Abbey charts right path for Catholics

The revelations of abuse against minors are again challenging the faith of many Catholics. Some react with silence, shamed by the disclosures. Others lash out with anger against those who reveal transgressions that have been committed.

Catholics have a responsibility to do more. Those of us who continue to find meaning in our faith and who believe that the Catholic Church should be a vital and trusted force for good in our society have a larger obligation. Certainly, we need to acknowledge the wrong that was done, support justice for the survivors and accept the sanctions that are imposed fairly on our church and on those who have failed in their responsibilities.

That’s not enough, though.

Today we must be linked as never before. It is up to us to advocate publicly and within the church for responsible, aggressive actions to end forever all abuse and to create a new culture of accountability and transparency. Church leaders who have done the right thing deserve public support. In affirming responses to the crisis that have been positive, effective and sensitive to victims, we can inspire others to act boldly.

As a graduate of St. John’s University and a former member and chair of the university’s governing board, I am especially proud of the abbey’s forward-looking actions.

Review board

St. John’s Abbey created an External Review Board in 2003 to review and examine the formal investigative reports from allegations of misconduct. The board provides a forum for allegations of misconduct to be reviewed thoroughly with respect for those who may have been harmed. The board includes a victim, those who work with victims and others who are experts in the field. The structure and functioning of the board meet the highest standards of integrity and public trust.

The External Review Board meets on a regular basis to review the safety plans imposed on members of the monastery who likely have offended against minors. The safety plans don’t insulate monks from legal action. The abbey fully cooperates with legal authorities. Safety plans provide a safeguard that goes beyond legal action. Safety plans remove these monks from situations of uncontrolled contact with minors or other vulnerable people.

Screening process

St. John’s has enhanced the screening of those wishing to enter the monastery. Intense assessments are part of a more rigorous process of identifying appropriate candidates. Education continues during and after monastic formation. For example, the entire monastic community just completed a regularly scheduled workshop updating their awareness of boundary issues and warning signals.

These and other actions have been effective. There is no substantiated incident of abuse of a minor by a member of St. John’s Abbey in more than two decades. While the abbey continues to deal forthrightly with any allegation of abuse of a minor, all the alleged incidents occurred well in the past.

Force for good

All of this is worth noting not to congratulate or exonerate the abbey. Protecting our children must always be the first priority. The Catholic Church failed in that obligation, and there is no excuse for the harm done to children and families.

Rather, it is to say that a dynamic Catholic Church is important to all. It sustains the spiritual life of the faithful and it brings hope to the “suffering, to the poor and persecuted.” It is up to us, the communion of the faithful, to acknowledge the failures of some while holding everyone to higher standards.

The abbey hasn’t been perfect, but when it failed, it continued to be a powerful force for good in most areas. It is a model for restoring confidence in an institution that very much is needed in today’s world.

This is the opinion of Jim Frey, president and CEO of the Frey Foundation of Minnesota and a 1978 graduate of St. John’s University. Frey served on the St. John’s Board of Regents (now known as the Board of Trustees) from 2001-10 and was chair of the board from 2007-10.

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Your Turn: Abbey charts right path for Catholics
Saint Cloud Times
March 29, 2014

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Topics: Jim Frey, PR Machine

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