It is rare, if not unprecedented, that the Catholic church could take a lesson from a secular university's football program. But the recent events surrounding Penn State's vaunted football culture is indeed instructive on several levels.
For one, it helps explain why the child sex abuse scandal in the church seems never-ending. It also illustrates anew that while legal and administrative responsibilities toward children are ignored at an institution's peril, our moral obligation toward children is paramount and self-evident even in an avowedly nonreligious setting.
Jerry Sandusky, a former assistant football coach at Pennsylvania State University, has been charged with sexually abusing eight young boys over a 15-year period. Two university officials, former athletic director Tim Curley and former finance official Gary Schultz, have been charged with failing to report Sandusky to police after they were told of an incident in 2002.
The parallels between what happened at Penn State and what has happened for decades throughout the Catholic community in the United States and in other countries are striking.