Sex Abuse, Cover Up, and Catholic Culture

By Tom Smith
Southern Illinois Associatiof Priests
September 19, 2018

The Pennsylvania priest sex abuse/bishop cover-up scandal screams for justice. Following immediately on the revelations involving Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) Theodore McCarrick, the “what can be done about this terrible reality” leaps to the forefront of current Catholicism. While the focus is on the shocking statistics of what happened, the more substantive questions revolve around why and how this behavior could survive and flourish within the institutional Catholic church and what needs to change to prevent it from happening again.

It is clear that pedophile priests and cover-up bishops do not operate in a vacuum. They are part of the Catholic culture, breathing in a set of values, presumptions, thought patterns, behaviors, expectations, and privileges that form that culture. Everyone everywhere absorbs multiple cultures – ethnic, religious, social, political, and economic communities that shape the way people think, feel, and act. The Catholic culture is one of these communities.



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