Following that report, the archdiocese agreed to establish a review board to consider abuse allegations, hired outreach staffers to work with victims, and said that it would notify law enforcement whenever it received a substantial accusation of abuse by a priest.
Most seemed willing to give church officials a second chance.
But a new grand-jury report released last week shows that many of the reforms appear to have been designed to protect the church rather than victims. Worse, the cover-up continues and allegedly reaches to top diocesan officials.
The report found that dozens of priests remain in active ministry despite credible allegations against them. In some cases, the church's review board ruled allegations unsubstantiated even when the evidence was convincing, including priests flunking lie-detector tests.
The grand jury also found that the church's victim-assistance coordinators fed information from the victims back to church lawyers, which further undermined whatever credibility remains for the church concerning its handling of priest sex-abuse allegations.
The grand jury was correct in saying "nothing will change in the church until there is a will to change." Toward that end, the grand jury put forth worthy recommendations that the archdiocese should implement. They include:
Victims assistance should be provided by an independent, nonprofit organization with no ties to the church.
The archdiocese's review board should be overhauled to ensure that any credible allegations against priests result in appropriate corrective action. The current process is far from one of zero tolerance.
The archdiocese should make public its files on sexual abuse allegations to better inform parishioners.
But even those steps seem unlikely to be enough to root out the abuse and stop the cover-up efforts. The suspension Wednesday of three priests named in the new grand-jury report occurred only in the face of public shame. That is why the state legislature needs to help lead the way. Two key measures before it could bring about real change:
Pass a law that provides a two-year window for victims to file civil claims, which is currently prohibited by the statute of limitations. Similar laws have been passed in Delaware and California, helping to expose and root out abusive priests.
Abolish the statute of limitations for all criminal sexual offenses against minors. There is no reason for an arbitrary statute of limitations that protects child predators.
It is sad that legislative measures are needed. But the archdiocese's actions have destroyed any confidence that it will change on its own. Children's lives are at risk. The abuse and cover-up must stop.