Lee students blast sexual assault scandals through podcast
By Kiersten Powers
February 13, 2018
|“We chose to speak about sexual harassment due to the recent wave of people speaking out as victims of sexual misconduct,” Thoughts of the Round Table co-host Juan Molina said. "It’s deeply unfortunate to hear that this is a problem even in the leadership of the Catholic Church. That shouldn’t happen, but hopefully with the demand for higher standards, the people can make a change.”|
If there's something to be said about the students featured on the Thoughts of the Roundtable podcast, it's that they aren't shying away from the tough subjects.
The students, Juan and Rebeca Molina, Chris Seders and Gabby Oechsle, have a mission of addressing important topics to further educate and discuss solutions with each other.
And recently? Sexual abuse in the church.
In a recent episode of Thoughts of the Roundtable entitled “Chris Hansen, Where Are You?,” the group discussed the multitude of recent sexual harassment scandals, from those in Hollywood to the accused in politics and religion.
Pope Francis is currently receiving backlash for his support of a bishop who has been accused of covering up one of the largest sexual assault cases.
The scandal blew up after Francis supported Bishop Juan Barros’ denial of witnessing any sexual abuse committed by Rev. Fernando Karadima. Francis found himself facing many protesters upon his arrival to South America last month after declaring any accusation against Barros as slanderous. Francis has repeatedly denied hearing of any evidence connecting Barros as a witness to these sexual abuses.
In a recent interview with the Associated Press, Francis said he acknowledged that the victims of Karadima’s abuse placed Barros at the scene of abuse multiple times yet continued to deny knowledge of any “evidence” against Barros as a witness to these sexual abuses.
In 2015, however, Pope Francis received a letter from a victim explaining the abuse experienced in his teenage years under the authority of Karadima. The eight-page letter, only recently obtained by the Associated Press, was written by Juan Carlos Cruz after Barros was appointed bishop of Osnorno, Chile. Cruz detailed in the letter the sexual abuses of Karadima, accusing Barros of witnessing these abuses many times.
“No one has come forward. They haven't provided any evidence for a judgment. This is all a bit vague. It's something that can't be accepted,” Francis said. “I’m certain he’s innocent.”
Rebeca Molina, a marriage and family therapy graduate student and co-host of the podcast, said she thinks the situation is disgraceful.
“It’s disturbing to think that anyone would hide the abuse of others. It allows the cycle to continue, discouraging victims from speaking out,” Molina said. “While we might not know all the facts, anyone accused of sexual abuse should be investigated immediately. The Catholic Church should learn from the recent movements. People who commit these crimes can no longer hide.”
Co-host and senior business administration and theological studies double major Juan Molina said the church has to be included in that discussion.
“This is something that not only happens in Hollywood, but unfortunately happens in the church as well,” Molina said. “However, it’s deeply unfortunate to hear that this is a problem even in the leadership of the Catholic Church. That shouldn’t happen, but hopefully with the demand for higher standards, the people can make a change.”
Francis has previously insisted that he has no tolerance for sexual abuse or the covering up of these acts. With the discovery of Francis' reception of the letter, his character and integrity has been thrown into question—as well as his ability to empathize with the victims of sexual abuse.
This controversy being the most serious crisis in his five-year papacy, Francis apologized for any perceived insensitivity and announced the Vatican is sending an investigator to gather more information on the case.
Podcast co-host and senior theological and biblical studies major Chris Seders said he agrees that Francis has handled the situation poorly.
“In a time where sexual harassment and sexual assault are being brought to the light, Pope Francis should have dealt with the situation in a much more urgent fashion,” Seders said.
Juan Molina said the decision to cover this topic was due to the need for increased awareness.
“We chose to speak about sexual harassment due to the recent wave of people speaking out as victims of sexual misconduct,” Molina said. “We released that episode in December, knowing that this topic needed to be talked about in our circle of friends and listeners.”
The podcast began this past October, after the group of friends joked they should host a podcast discussing matters they were already debating over nightly dinners. A new episode of Thoughts of the Roundtable releases every Monday, featuring a new topic.
“By discussing these topics, we hope to bring more awareness to what is going on and ways these things can be prevented,” Seders said.