Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced last Thursday a statewide investigation into the Catholic Church in Florida concerning the sexual abuse of children. Her office will coordinate with local prosecutors in the effort.
A month ago, I sent a letter to Pam Bondi urging her to launch just such an investigation of the Catholic Church. She never responded.
I wonder if she realizes the massive task ahead of her. There are six dioceses and one archdiocese (Miami) situated in the state of Florida. St. Augustine is the oldest diocese. It was established in 1870. Compared to other areas of the country, Catholic presence in Florida is fairly new but it’s diverse and large. Making matters more complex are the number of religious order priests, retired priests, and transient priests who move in and out of the state.
Those who will be investigating the dioceses will have to know how the church operates and how to interpret the church’s internal documents located in mysterious sounding places like the secret archives. They’ll have to know about the pontifical secret, internal forum, particular friendship, and the like. Some of the documents may be written in Latin (without translation), just to add to the fun and confusion.
Pam Bondi wanted in on the action. She’s got it. But I wonder if she’s aware of what she’s taken on. The investigation, if not just a pro forma exercise, will tax the intellectual and financial resources of her office and the offices of local prosecutors. The Florida bishops have pledged to cooperate fully but that has been proven to be historically meaningless. The bishops are wily and privately view this as another assault on the church. Their job, as they see it, is to protect the church, not the victims.
This may make for good theater but probably won’t result in much else. Meanwhile, victims will continue to suffer and the church will go along as always.