Editorial: Zubik’s sin of omission in delay removing Wuerl’s name

September 16, 2018
Bishop David Zubik answer questions from a Tribune-Review reporter during an interview at the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh's Downtown offices, on Aug. 21, 2018.

Red spray paint covers Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s name at North Catholic High School.

His name also won’t grace the church where he first served.

The former Pittsburgh bishop -- now archbishop of Washington -- will no longer be lauded in stone for his service to the area, not after a grand jury report that notes Wuerl’s failing to protect children who were sexually victimized by priests on his watch.

It is a step in the right direction, and follows on similar paths broken in the Harrisburg diocese. The difference is that the Harrisburg bishop made that decision himself before the report was issued, stripping from his buildings the names of any bishops who participated in hiding the shameful crimes.

Why did Pittsburgh’s diocese wait? Why did Bishop David Zubik delay, not only until the report was released, but until both the high school’s board and Wuerl himself requested it?

“My concern is first, foremost and always for the students, that nothing overshadows their Catholic education,” Zubik said in a release.

But the church in general and bishops in particular must grasp the two things that made the whole sordid outrage of the grand jury report and its broader worldwide problem the tragedy that it is: darkness and delay.

Transparency casts no shadow. When you do what is right, you have nothing to hide.

And don’t wait to do what is right. The grand jury report proves nothing more than the adage of justice delayed being justice denied. For 1,000 incidents included in that report, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro announced only two prosecutions.

Those together amount to what the Catholic church calls a sin of omission versus commission. Where commission is the act of doing evil, omisison is the act of seeing what good could be done and choosing not to do it.

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