When I came into full communion with the Church on Easter 2006, the American Catholic Church was reeling from its own scandal with the American Catholic Clergy and their abuses. There is no way to excuse it, belittle it, or wish it away. The fact that it happened is horrendous and inexcusable. There is really no way that this should have happened in the Church of Christ and gone on for such a long time...period. There are mistakes that the Church made from the admission of men who never should have been admitted to Seminary, to allowing liberal teachings to grow and fester in the Seminaries of the US, to not properly addressing the complaints and allegations when they arose years ago. There is no excuse and those who allowed the abuse to continue should be held accountable not only by canonical law, but also by the local authorities.
Now, some six to seven years later, we see the same thing happening in the Church in Europe. Charges have been leveled against the Catholic Church in Ireland, England, Germany and other European countries. What is the deal and how do we sort this whole scenario out? There are some in the media who would have us believe that this whole situation has been covered up and even directed from the higher ups of the Church and that the Vatican and even the Holy Father is to blame. Generally the people who level charges like this are totally ignorant of Canon Law, how the Church operates and their modus operandi is the downfall of the Catholic Church by whatever means. The Catholic Church is the largest Church in the world with over 1.1 Billion members world wide and has the largest visible presence of any other Christian denomination. There is nothing that would please the likes of Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins than to see the Church brought down.
The fact of the matter is that this terrible crime against our children is not only being portrayed in the Catholic Church, but it is being perpetrated against children in all denominations of all churches....I have seen it. The reason that the abuse in the Catholic Church is so widely reported is simply because it is the biggest player on the block. Just this week in southern Alabama, there was an evangelist who was charged for murdering his wife of 8 kids and stuffing her body in a freezer where she has remained for 5 years. Evil can reside in every church and it is up to us as Christians to keep the Church pure and holy.
When is the last time you heard about a teacher being arrested for sexual relations with a minor? The times of late are too numerous to count. In a country that is a sexual desire that cannot be satiated, where pornography is available from your computer to your mobile device and everywhere in between, where families are broken and tried to piece back together; and in a country that has lost sight of right and wrong, this is what we see happen. People give in to their basest desires.
One other thing that needs to be brought into the conversation is the cultural approach to abuse and how that has changed over the past 3o years. Many of us have heard stories of victims of abuse from years ago such as Oprah Winfrey and Roseann Barr. These women suffered tremendously from the hands of their abusers and for decades these crimes against them were silent. Why? This is due to the fact that decades ago, family and society handled abuse the same way (regretfully) that the Church handled it's abuses...they swept them under the rug. Don't say that about Uncle Charlie, or your brother, or your dad. It was NOT talked about. Yes, the Church that bears the name of Christ should have been above that, but it wasn't. It failed.
Out of over 450,000 Roman Catholic priests worldwide there is an extremely small percentate of diocesan priests that have caused untold heartache on the Church. Once study shows that 11,000 complaints in the United States are attributed to less than 4,400 US priests from the years 1950-2002 (over 52 years). In addition, there are studies that suggest that in the protestant church at large, the percentage is much higher due to the fact that many of them are independent and non affiliated with any larger denomination for oversight and governance. In the Catholic Church there have been many changes that have been made in the US and those changes have done a tremendous service to the protection of our children, as it should be. Changes don't take away the pain of victims and they don't remove the blotch that has been placed on the Church. The sins that we have allowed to fester in our Church will follow us for decades to come. They have damaged reputations and credibility to the outside world and are not easily forgiven.
So how does a Catholic, a rather new Catholic at that, process this information against their faith? I mean if all this has gone on, how can I remain to be associated with such an organization? When Christ left us almost 2ooo years ago, he never left us with a promise that we would be perfect. As a matter of fact, He gave us a parable about the weeds and the wheat and how they would grow together in the same field, inseparable until the harvest. This was a direct parable to the Church that He would leave institute. He knew that there would be evil people in the Church and that they would cause damage to the Church. After all, one of the ones that walked with Him and followed him for 3 1/2 years sold him to the Pharisees for a bag of silver coins. As saddening as this scenario is, my faith is not in the priests in the Church, but in the fact that Our Lord promised that he would lead and guide His Church with His Holy Spirit and that He would NOT let us move into error. As bad as this handful of priests have been, the teachings that the Church has maintained for over 2,ooo years remain the same. They have not changed. In addition, while abuses cannot be forgotten or overlooked the Catholic Church has done more for Western Civilization in the forming of hospitals, the University system, modern scientific method, legal justice, feeding the hungry and widows, and promoting dignity and respect of all people than ANY OTHER ORGANIZATION IN HISTORY...PERIOD~!
So while I am saddened and pained with what has gone on in the Roman Catholic Church worldwide, I am still very proud to be a Catholic. I will continue to pray for my Church and for the Holy Father and that our Lord will continue to guide him and help him to purge the Church of the wrongdoing. I will also continue to pray for those who have been victims of the abuse that has occurred. I pray that somehow their hearts will be healed and that they will be able to see the Lord in spite of the wounds that have been inflicted on their bodies and on their souls. If you are one of these people, as a Catholic, I apologize on behalf of my Church.
May the Peace of the Lord rest on them all.