There are not a lot of things in life and that utterly black and white. Life is full of shades of grey, infinitely confusing, with all levels of nuance available for interpretation.
Except for this: if you ever, EVER see an adult abusing a child, call the police.
I am incensed by this story coming out of Penn State University. Apparently an assistant football coach was sexually abusing young boys he came in contact with through a foundation he started for under-privileged kids and PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT IT AND DIDN’T CALL THE POLICE. They told people in university administration and told Coach Joe Paterno but none of those people told the police. For YEARS this man went on abusing boys and people didn’t call the police. They worked with him, traveled with him socialized with him, all the while knowing that he was potentially a child abuser and they let it go.
I don’t even know how to express my outrage. Young boys raped and people knew and they didn’t call the police. I want to cry. What if that were my child and someone knew and didn’t call the police? How could they do that to children?
This is the same way I feel about the abuse situations in the Catholic Church. How could any entity decide somehow that their members were exempt from the laws of the land – and the basic moral order of humanity – and let such tremendous violations go on? How can they not call the police and purge their order of the rapist? How could they harbor such a person?
My heart breaks for all those boys damaged by the acts of a rapist and the willful negligence of those around him who seemed to care more about football games than the welfare of children. I don’t know what their penance should be. I just know there should be one so those children can see that their pain matters.