February 17, 2021
By John L. Allen Jr.
How do you measure the cost of a scandal?
One way is by dollar amounts. The current estimate is that the Catholic Church in the United States now has paid $3.2 billion to settle clerical sexual abuse lawsuits, which is $3.2 billion it couldn’t spend on charity or evangelization or any other desirable purpose.
Another index is lost human potential. Think about the contributions that Enzo Bianchi, founder of the famed ecumenical monastic community of Bose, could still be making to the cause of Christian unity, if his alleged abuses of authority had not compelled the Vatican recently to send him into exile like Napoleon on Elba.
Yet perhaps the steepest price to be paid is the loss of moral authority, a cost that’s correspondingly higher when the institution hit by scandal purports to represent moral virtue like the Catholic Church
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