Catholic Official Testifies Against Child Abuse: Now What?

Patrick Seaman

It’s a wacky world we live in. Donald Trump is the Republican frontrunner in the 2016 presidential election, Leonardo DiCaprio won an Oscar for the first time in his career and Cuba and the U.S. have finally buried the hatchet. However, in light of Cardinal George Pell, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers, testifying on Monday that the Catholic Church made a massive error in allowing the abuse and molestation of children within the Church to continue for centuries, there’s a clear winner in this year’s Crazy Olympics.

One might think that the most insane part is that the Catholic Church, an organization known for sticking to its guns even when astronomical evidence has been compiled to prove it wrong, admitted its mistakes, but that’s not it. The real craziness, to me at least, is that the apology is coming so late. As a former Catholic, for whom the revelations of child abuse within the Church was the breaking point, I’m frankly appalled at the weakness of the statement released by Cardinal Pell.

The Church does not have a good track record when it comes to their handling of child abuse cases throughout history, and it seems as though the Vatican, under the direction of Pope Francis, is unwilling to rectify the egregious errors they have made in their dealings with sexual abuse scandal. The Holy See has ultimate authority over the Catholic Church, and as the leader of the Church, Pope Francis needs to personally apologize and address the issue of child abuse within the Church. The lack of transparency in the Vatican’s investigations into those responsible for child abuse, as well as the apparent failure to prevent further abuse cases, is a blemish on the Church’s already precarious reputation.

According to a Pew survey, Catholicism is losing members faster than any other denomination. If the Vatican wants to stem the hemorrhage of members of the Church, they need to stop dragging their feet and treating the child abuse scandals like they will go away. The Vatican should release an official statement, admitting their mistakes in not only dealing with the repercussions of child abuse scandals, but also in allowing them to happen in the first place, much as Cardinal Pell already did. Furthermore, the Church must condemn and excommunicate any priest who has molested a child, and provide reparations to the victims and families of the victims.

Priests are often pillars of communities, exercising a huge amount of influence over schools and families. But their most vital role comes from their influence over schools. The Church needs to recognize the amount of power that priests have over the young members of their congregations, and revise church doctrine to reflect this. Children need to be taught that they have no obligation to their priests beyond respecting and listening to them about religious matters, and it should be the Church’s job to protect their flock from itself.

Opinions expressed on the editorial pages are not necessarily those of WSN, and our publication of opinions is not an endorsement of them.

Email Patrick Seaman at [email protected]

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2 COMMENTS

  1. good column. I think we can trust that the Church has implemented appropriate reforms and protections, when we read of priests being arrested this week for behavior that occurred last week.

    We don’t expect priests to be perfect humans any more than police, chiropractors, teachers. All groups have members with weaknesses for immoral & illegal behavior. And all groups need fully sufficient safeguards to ensure violators are brought to book and people are kept safe. When the Church demonstrates that they are timely in handling new problems, we can start to have some trust again. Not till then.

  2. Do you have any idea how much attention has been given to this problem at every level in the Church over the past decade? Quite obviously not.

    Do you have an elementary understanding as to how the church operates and what it is? Several quotes show obviously not.

    ProTip: While writing about the Catholic Church while having no idea as to what you’re talking about is a basic industry standard, try to get beyond it. At least come to the Catholic Center and talk with someone who has some idea as to what the Church is before writing about it in whatever context.

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