Prominent US Catholic Woman: Abuse Crisis Will End When Laity Demand Bishop Accountability

A prominent Catholic laywoman and lawyer has stated that the only way to “drive out this evil” of the sexual abuse crisis rocking the Catholic Church is for laity to “demand” accountability from bishops. If bishops refuse to be accountable, they must be pressured to “resign.”

“We laity also need to demand immediately that every Bishop tell us what he knows,” said Donna Bethell in comments she made to LifeSiteNews in the capacity of a concerned Catholic. Bethell was the undersecretary in the U.S. Department of Energy from 1988 to 1989.

“Every Bishop needs to admit whatever sexual activity he has committed with minors or adults of either sex. Every Bishop must admit to any cover-up activity he has committed, including moving priests around or putting them back in ministry without telling parishioners about their records of abuse. He must report any legal settlements and payments and release victims from confidentiality agreements,” she said.

“And if a Bishop knows of abusive or cover-up activity by another Bishop, then he needs to follow our Lord’s instructions and call that Bishop privately to admit it or resign. If the Bishop refuses, then the Church must be told. Any Bishop who will not make a statement must resign,” she added.

Bethell serves as the chairman of Christendom College’s board of directors, but says the opinions she shared are her own.

She is married to Tom Bethell, a journalist and book author who was for more than 30 years a senior editor of the American Spectator. She has made in the past some strong defenses of Catholic doctrine and morals on radio and TV. In 2012, she came into the news for supporting the Vatican’s doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

Bethell’s comments come in the wake of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report which highlighted the abuse of hundreds of priests on mostly male victims. Her comments also come in the wake of the testimony of Archbishop Viganò who accused Pope Francis of covering up for now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite having detailed knowledge of his abuse of priests and seminarians.

“We don’t need investigations by Bishops or the Vatican. The Vatican can’t even investigate itself. We need Attorney General grand jury investigations in the 49 other states and the District of Columbia. There is no way that Pennsylvania is an anomaly,” she said.

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