The Catholic Church is not alone

Barnstable Patriot

June 20, 2019

Seventeen years ago, a series of stories by The Boston Globe ripped away the cloak of mystery surrounding the Boston Archdiocese, exposing a coordinated effort to help pedophile priests avoid detection, allowing them to abuse and molest hundreds of boys and girls across the commonwealth. In the intervening years, it has become horrifically apparent that Boston was not some anomaly, as states began taking a closer look at long-dormant reports of similar stories in their communities. What few wanted to think about then was that the Catholic Church, although unique in its hierarchy, was not unique in its unpardonable desire to protect its own, even at the cost of those it had sworn to protect.

The fallout from the Globe’s Spotlight team investigation continues to reverberate today. Teams from more than 20 state and federal offices are actively investigating wrongdoing in the American Catholic Church, examining not only the criminal conduct of individual priests, but also that of the church’s hierarchy, examining whether it engaged in a coordinated cover-up that may result in anti-racketeering charges being leveled against high-ranking Catholic officials.

Although disturbing in terms of the apparent scope of efforts to hide the information from the public, the Catholic Church is hardly alone in terms of abuse. Earlier this year, the Southern Baptist Convention acknowledged reports that hundreds of ranking church leaders had allegedly abused hundreds of children over the years, and that some church leaders, much like their Catholic counterparts, had covered up the incidents and moved the abusive leaders to new congregations, where some re-offended.

Secular groups have seen their share of allegations as well. In 2012, a secret file kept by the Boy Scouts of America came to light, detailing allegations of abuse by nearly 8,000 Boy Scout leaders dating back to the 1940s that involved more than 12,000 alleged victims, but it was not until this past April that an investigator revealed the full scope of the information. In a press statement, the organization claimed that it had turned over all of the information to law enforcement authorities and had provided counseling for the victims. Some speculate, however, that although abusive leaders may have been removed from the Scouts, their actions remained hidden from public, potentially leaving them to offend again.

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