There is a time to mourn. There’s also a time to demand answers and accountability. This is a time for both.
The church is supposed to be the light of the world. But this week, the doors of the church opened and what the world saw was darkness—on a staggering scale, on both sides of the Tiber.
A long-awaited grand jury report on sex abuse among Pennsylvania Catholic clergy was released on Tuesday. In over 900 pages, the report revealed criminal conduct in six dioceses, going back seventy years. Three hundred “predator priests” were identified, as well as a thousand probable victims—a figure which, according to the report, is likely a fraction of the true total.
The stories from the major dioceses—especially in Pittsburgh—are sickening and horrific. “Children were raped in places of worship, in schools, and in diocesan owned vehicles, and were groomed through diocesan programs and retreats,” the report stated.
One priest abused five sisters. Another impregnated a minor, and then helped pay for the abortion. Another assaulted at least a dozen boys and was later praised by his bishop for all he had “done for God’s people.” One raped a seven-year-old girl in the hospital as she was recovering from surgery. Another had victims pose without clothes like the crucified Christ.
As if that weren’t enough, Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro then described a pattern of denial and “systematic cover-up” by the clergy.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls,” the grand jury wrote, “and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.”
Rod Dreher of the American Conservative was among those whose reporting years ago helped reveal the extent of the Boston priest abuse scandal. He thinks this is far from over. “There will be more grand juries,” he writes, “and more revelations.”
Now, I’m not Roman Catholic. Some of my dearest friends and colleagues are. To watch how this abuse and institutional cover-up is tearing them apart is awful. Shepherds trusted by millions have failed them in the worst way possible. Their futures include millstones around necks.
Simply put: The Catholic Church needs to clean house. Clergy at every level must cooperate with independent investigations into all allegations of abuse. No more bishops handling these charges. This needs to stop, now. Our nation’s 70 million Catholics have to demand it.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, John Stonestreet and G. Shane Morris