‘Please give me a reason to be Catholic:’ How sex abuse crisis is impacting faith in Nashville

Nashville Tennessean

April 22, 2019

By Holly Meyer

The Rev. Edward Steiner does not think the people sitting in the pews are looking for reasons to leave as the Catholic Church grapples with the recent wave of its clergy sexual abuse crisis.

But Steiner, who leads the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville, thinks some are looking for reasons to stay.

That became evident to him as members of the cathedral gathered for coffee and donuts on a recent Sunday after Mass.

“A person that I’ve kind of got a great rapport with, but whose also very blunt and direct just simply said, ‘Father, I don’t know that I can take anymore. Could you please give me a reason to be a Catholic?'” Steiner said.

The parishioner is not alone in his questioning.

A recent Gallup poll found that 37 percent of U.S. Catholics say the recent news about sexual abuse of children in the church has led them to personally question whether they should remain Catholic.

The crisis has been grabbing headlines for the last eight months. In August, a Pennsylvania grand jury report laid out the “horrifying scale” of sexual abuse perpetrated by 300 priests on more than 1,000 identified victims over nearly 80 years.

Several dioceses across the U.S. have released the names of clergy accused of sexually abusing children. In Nashville, the diocese has named 21 clergy. Attorneys general in a number of states have opened their own investigations as critics of the church continue to call for independent reviews.

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