A New York Times op-Ed piece revisits the tsunami of criticism against Catholic Church abuses. There’s no doubt that priests have been assaulting each other, seminarians (those who would become priests), nuns, and worst of all, children for hundreds of years. Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s behavior was reviewed in the article. His despicable actions have been documented broadly, resulting in him being defrocked a few years ago.
I was born a Catholic and went to a prestigious Catholic university in the late 1960s. I knew something was wrong then with the Church, when I was a young man. Priests who were supposed to be celibate and chaste were not. And worse, these same individuals were giving advice to their flock about marriage, children and sexuality without any legitimate experience. Did they learn about married life and raising children in the seminary from other men who similarly had no experiences?
After centuries, it was finally was revealed that pedophilia was pervasive among priests. Many men came forward to reveal that they were raped and abused as children. Scores of them were “altar boy victims.” The immediate response of the Church’s hierarchy was to circle the wagons and deny the evidence of foul play that has been taking place for so long.
In the meantime, non-clergy men convicted of pedophilia were prosecuted and imprisoned. Church pedophiles were forced to say a few Hail Marys and then were transferred to a new diocese where they picked up where they left off. They ruined the lives of hundreds of other young men.
Could anything worse befall the Church? The answer is yes. It was discovered that senior Church officials we’re protecting sexual offenders. Why would they do this? It’s obvious. They wanted to preserve the reputation of the Church. And in doing so they paid millions of dollars to victims to cover up the sins of their priests. The same men who were abusing others were celebrating mass and giving Communion.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s been suggested that cover ups extend all the way up the chain of command to the Vatican. Apparently, popes protected abusers and sexual deviants.
I think this disgraceful behavior has gone on long enough. The last few popes have promised to crackdown on offenders, but it never happens. For millenniums, there has been priestly abuse cloaked in secrecy.
Pope Francis has pretended to be responsive with a de-frocking here and there. But no new initiatives have been offered to stop the spread of abuse. Equally, very few priests have been tried and convicted criminally. Some of the most frequently mentioned ideas to improve the situation include allowing priests to marry, enabling women to become priests, the establishment of a Church-wide police force to root out abuse globally, the prosecution by civil authorities of abuse, etc.
I find it hard to believe that Catholics can retain their faith in God’s representatives when they are responsible for so much sadness and shame.
I think Pope Francis would be better served if he set aside his interest in telling world leaders how to govern their states and focused on cleaning out his own house.