Catholics Must Take a Stand against Church Sex Abuse Cases
By John Byron
October 19, 2018
You’d have to be living off the grid to not know the Catholic Church is going through tough times — of the church’s own making:
• Sexual abuse of children by priests;
• Senior clergy coercing seminarians into sexual relations;
• Sex crimes by priests routinely covered up by church officials;
• U.S. Catholic Church membership down 20 percent;
• Church membership plummeting in Catholic strongholds such as Ireland, Brazil and the rest of Latin America;
• Over 3,000 sex-abuse lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church in the United States;
• Eight Catholic dioceses gone bankrupt paying restitution to victims;
• More than 1,000 Pennsylvania children found to have been abused by hundreds of priests;
• Recent report of 3,600 sexual abuse cases involving Catholic clergy in Germany;
• State investigations of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy in New York, New Jersey, Illinois, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Florida and a new federal investigation in Pennsylvania;
• Church leaders resigning in shame, the latest two cardinals in succession in Washington D.C.;
• And two vacationing priests arrested for performing sex acts on each other in a car in Miami Beach.
This affects a huge number of people. The 74 million Catholics in this country. The half of the world’s Christian population who are Catholics. Followers of all faiths shaken in their religion by the image of hidden abuse.
And people like me. I might not seem the right person to write about this, having fallen away from active church membership many years ago. But I was raised in the faith — baptized, confirmed, 12 years of Catholic school. I served mass. All my teachers were nuns. Catholic precepts are the lens through which I’ve seen ethics and morality all my life.
|John Byron (Photo: Provided)|
The church’s crisis nearly came to Brevard through a local priest suspected of child abuse in another state. But authorities cleared him 100 percent. No more to say of that.
It did touch my small hometown in Minnesota, two priests investigated there. And a nun too, thought to have abused young girls years ago.
Best description of the situation? It is a God-damned mess. Literally.
How can trust be restored? How can justice be served, the victims find peace, the Catholic Church again a safe refuge for children?
Recovery has to start in the church itself, faith and morality made triumphant over institutional interests and careerism in the hierarchy.
And no more concealing the problem. Church officials have an absolute duty to call in the authorities whenever there’s even a hint that a priest might be a child molester.
But that’s not enough.
We should be alert in the future to see the Catholic Church for what it has been in the past: an ongoing criminal enterprise. Whenever a diocese or archdiocese conceals a priest’s sexual abuse of a minor, charge church leaders with felonious conspiracy as members of a racketeer-influenced corrupt organization.
"RICO criminals." That’s the right label for Church leaders who hide this evil and protect guilty priests, moving them from parish to parish and pretending that a pious retreat will cure these creeps.
Every state that hasn’t should extend its statute of limitation on sex crimes. Give victims time as adults to see what was done to them, what they lost. Help them bring bad priests to justice.
And Catholics everywhere can help prevent new victimization with a strong message to their own parish, even here in Brevard. Stop all donations, financial pledges and collection plate offerings for, say, three months.
It won’t kill the parish. It will serve notice of the future price to be paid if any more children are abused by priests.
In Matthew 18:6, the Bible prescribes the ultimate remedy: "But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea."
God help the Catholic Church find its way back to morality and love.