BY: LEXI MUELLER
It has been a summer of scandal for the Catholic Church as sexual abuse accusations have come pouring out about more than 300 priests in Pennsylvania alone. Chaos has ensued, bringing about many moral questions and a challenge of leadership for Catholics around the world (New York Times). In August, the Attorney General of Pennsylvania found 301 priests accused as predators and over 1,000 children victims across the state. But to fully understand the controversy surrounding this issue, it is important to take a quick look at the past first.
Catholic abuse allegations were first prominently brought up in the media in 1985 when a Louisiana priest pled guilty to 11 counts of molestation of young boys. The issue subsided until 2002 when the Boston Globe’s investigative journalist team uncovered over 100 cases of abuse in Boston alone.
They also discovered instances of the Roman Catholic Church going out of their way to cover up cases of sexual assault and letting priests remain employed after multiple allegations against them. This made national headlines and the article was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. It was then made into a movie, Spotlight, in 2015 which won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay. This brought the issue forward again and caused controversy to the Catholic Church.
So what is it about the structure of the Catholic Church and the people that are part of it that has lead to these accusations? It hurts me, as someone who was once involved with the Catholic religion, to read about this over and over again and to know that not enough action is being done to stop this from happening again.
The issue has gone public again because of the recent Pennsylvania scandal, but to many it does not seem like the appropriate actions are being taken to prevent this from happening again within the Catholic community.
Josh Shapiro, the Attorney General who discovered the Pennsylvania cases, has already spoken up and asked Pope Francis to stop blocking the release of the investigation’s findings. An Archbishop by the name of Carlo Maria Viganò sent a 7,000-word letter to the Pope asking him to step down. Action has also been taken by the Catholic community, from protests of the Pope’s visit, to Ireland to petitions for the resignation of all U.S. bishops for helping hide the scandal.
Religion is something that plays a major role in many people’s lives and helps guide them and their morals. It can help lead people through dark times and provide light for those that need it the most. The repeated corruption of this has severely affected people’s beliefs and has led many to question their own beliefs.
I, myself, do not know why the Roman Catholic Church has had so many problems with this issue. How have they continually recruited these men into their ranks? Is it their lack of awareness or are they too aware and willing to hide the issues in front of them?
It is disgusting to see that a church, who many consider their greatest sanctuary, has been corrupted because of the actions of those who are supposed to be trusted within it. Religion is not inherently evil in and of itself. People find great comfort, belief and support through Catholicism. The Roman Catholic Church has come face to face with corruption and it would be disastrous for their believers if they don’t decide to step up and turn things around.
It is time for a change to be made within the Catholic Church hierarchy to ensure that this does not happen again.