Does the Systemic Sexual Abuse of Children Among Catholic Clergy Undermine the Catholic Church Itself?

FILE PHOTO: Storm clouds pass over a Roman Catholic church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S. August 14, 2018. REUTERS/Jason CohnREUTERS/ /File Photo – RC1FA56E77A0

Recently, a Pennsylvania grand jury released a report chronicling the crimes of more than three hundred priests throughout Pennsylvania, predators who raped and traumatized more than one thousand children and young people dating back to the 1940s. The grand jury further chronicled how dozens of people in the church covered up the crimes, acting in essence like a crime syndicate.

The statistics numb the mind. But it’s when you get down to the individual stories that you really begin to get a sense of the absolute horror of these crimes. Consider, for example, the priest who molested five sisters from the same family. Some of these priests continued their serial abuse for up to forty years while the church in Pennsylvania covered up their crimes, in effect enabling the abusers to victimize many more children.

One anguished woman who had been raped as a child observed through tears, “The word ‘God’ makes me think of him.”

Even worse, this sickening revelation is but one more chapter in the ever-expanding horror story of the Catholic Church’s systemic sexual abuse of children. The modern era of reporting began with the Boston Globe‘s 2002 reporting, and ever since then, it seems we do not go but a few months without some other terrible revelation of sexual abuse on an industrial scale somewhere in the world.

All this prompts the question: how many people reject Christianity because the word ‘God’ makes them think of him?

Yesterday, I posted a Twitter survey asking the following question:

“Today, yet another horrifying priestly sex scandal (300+ predator Catholic priests in Pennsylvania) hit the media. This is part of a terrible pattern of abuse going back decades. But does it provide a sufficient rational basis to reject Christianity as false?”

A full 93% of respondents said, no, it does not. And I agree with the 93%: the Catholic Church’s industrial-scale sexual abuse of children does not entail that Christianity is false.

However, what if we construe the question more narrowly? Today, I asked a Catholic on Twitter the following hypothetical question: if you discovered that every single clergy member in the Catholic Church had raped a child or empowered another rapist, would you leave the church? His answer: no.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Randal Rauser