Sex abuse reemerges in the Catholic church

Interior of St. Pierre Cathedral (David Peters)

It has been over 16 years since the Boston Globe first broke the story of sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. Although much reform has happened since then, the Catholic Church has found itself immersed in another controversy regarding clergy and sexual activity.

The new controversy centers largely on two issues.

The first controversy is a report issued by a grand jury in Pennsylvania, showing that at least 1,000 children were sexually abused by some 300 priests over a 70 year span.

The second issue is Cardi nal Theodore McCarrick, a priest with a long and distinguished career as an archbishop and seminary president. Rumors of sexual misconduct have swirled around McCarrick for years, including stories by Catholic seminarians where McCarrick used his power as president to force students to go on vacation with him and share his bed with them.

The controversies grew worse in late August, when Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former ambassador of the Vatican to the US, published an open letter stating that he had brought McCarrick’s case before Popes Benedict XVI and Francis.

According to Vigano, Francis did little to nothing to stop McCarrick after receiving the information.

Francis, in response to the letter, neither accepted nor denied Vigano’s charges, leading to widespread suspicion and increasing anger and concern about the controversy.

The new controversy has opened old wounds for some Catholics, many of whom thought that the Church was in the clear regarding sexual abuse. The wounds, unsurprisingly, have hit close to home, even affecting members of the MC community.

I spoke with Dawson Hope, a practicing Catholic and former president of MC’s Catholic Student Alliance, to understand how he and other Catholics were viewing these controversies.

“These events are most certainly causing scars to become wounds again, and new lesions to form in the wake of such acts,” Hope told me.

He says, however, that there is a problem of knowledge that must be admitted with the current situation in regards to McCarrick. “No one,” he says, “can say with one hundred percent certainty what happened without being met with challenging counter arguments.”

However, Hope nonetheless states his desire for justice to be done in the Church, saying that he wishes that “any and all who are truly guilty of these accusations of unconscionable conduct be punished.”

Hope stated that he and his fellow Catholics must commit themselves deeply to their faith and seek spiritual justice.

“We must trust in the Eucharist,” he went on, “and pray that evil be purged from the parishes and ecclesiastical offices of our world. We must continue to display true reverence in the Church, and turn our lives away from Satan’s temptations whilst keeping our eyes on God, the Father Almighty, in the hope of meeting him one day.”

Hope was quick to state that the Church is in need of prayer, and that all those concerned should lift up the Church’s leaders, workers and followers to God.

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