The Catholic Church faces a youth retention problem following sex abuse scandals

USC Annenberg Media

April 23, 2019

By Mia Speier

When USC students discuss Catholicism with one another, all too often the first thing that comes to people’s mind is the sexual abuse scandal in the church. That’s what David de la Cruz has experienced during his time on the Caruso Catholic Center Student Advisory Board.

“I think there is a lot of misunderstanding because I know that sometimes when I say that I am Catholic, the punchline eventually gets to, ‘Oh, how many pedophile priests do you know?’” said de la Cruz, a sophomore majoring in classics and informatics. “That is very reductionist, and a hurtful sentiment to hold.”

The topic of sexual abuse in the church goes beyond everyday conversations with Catholics, and has been thrust into the national spotlight.

Pope Francis convened an unprecedented summit in late February to discuss the global crisis of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Leaders from across the world joined in conversation with one another at the Vatican following revelations of thousands of cases of abuse in countries like Japan, Australia, Germany and the United States.

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