To be church together


August 21, 2018

Joan Chittister began writing about the issue of sexual abuse in 2002. In light of the recent release of the Grand Jury Report on Sexual Abuse of Children within Six Dioceses of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, we have excerpted from two of her articles that dealt with the issue.

I’m beginning to wonder if we’ve been overlooking the real meaning, the ultimate impact, of two of the most powerful lines of scripture: “And a little child shall lead them” or, alternatively, “Let the little ones come unto me.” Pedophilia, the abuse of children, has finally unmasked for all to see the operational principles of an organization that has been able for years to ignore, reject– even disdain–the cries of multiple other groups of the ignored and abused.

In a church that newly calls itself “the people of God” but clearly still thinks of itself more narrowly in terms of the pre-Vatican II definition of the church—those faithful in communion with the local bishop who is in communion with the Bishop of Rome—hearing is not a strong point. In a church such as that, questions do not need to be addressed; they can simply be denied on grounds of “unity” or “obedience” or “faith.” But to ignore the questions of women was one thing; to ignore the children was entirely another. To dismiss married priests was one thing; to protect pedophile priests was another. To claim ultimate authority by the clerical one percent of the church was one thing. To reject the authority of the people in the pews who, the new Code of Canon Law says, have not only the right but the duty “to make known their needs to their pastors” is entirely another.

Note: This is an Abuse Tracker excerpt. Click the title to view the full text of the original article. If the original article is no longer available, see our News Archive.