Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, bishop of the Albany Roman Catholic Diocese, in his pastoral letter and in recent statements regarding the current sexual abuse crisis has said all the right and good things that devout Catholics would hope to hear.
If he is sincere in wanting to protect children and right the wrongs of the church he loves, he will open up all of the records in the Diocese of Albany and fully cooperate with the investigations by Attorney General Barbara Underwood and Albany County District Attorney David Soares. He will not attempt to compromise and co-opt them in any way by inviting them to prayer services. Their task is to investigate crime, not to pray about sin. And he will support the Child Victims Act, which the church has used its vast influence to lobby against to the detriment of all victims of abuse, not just those abused by the church.
If the bishop does not back up his words with these actions, it will be just more "intermittent positive reinforcement," a psychological ploy used in abusive relationships to maintain power and control victims that has been used effectively by the church to at first cover up and then minimize the clergy abuse scandal.
If the leaders of the church cannot succeed in healing its culture, the people will. The article "Female Catholic priest ordained in Albany," Sept. 9, shows this. I attended this ordination and heard these words of Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan, of the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests: "...we are witnessing the demise of the clerical patriarchal model of priesthood in the worldwide sexual abuse scandal and the affirmation of women priests by millions of Catholics and inclusive faith communities."