Catholic Church Sex Scandal

What new could possibly be said about the sex scandal in the Catholic Church? I know one piece of news I’d love to hear.  Since child sexual abuse is against the law and the perpetrators, once convicted, spend many years if not life behind bars, why are the priests who do this to their innocent flock not behind bars? I have yet to hear anyone address this. Is this the elephant in the room? If John Doe sexually molests his child or his neighbor’s child or several children he will be arrested, tried and convicted. What magic does the Catholic Church have that exempts them from this?

I am angry. This recent four-day Vatican Summit on Child Protection was a joke.  The outcome of this historical and much awaited meeting was that the Vatican has delayed a vote by Catholic Church leaders in the US on measures to tackle sexual abuse by priests. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops has been told to wait until next year, to ensure more oversight and accountability

Mark Thiessan, reporter for the Washington Post said: “Pope Francis’s closing address to the Vatican Summit on Child Protection was a disgraceful display of excuses and evasions. He began with an extended meditation on how a “great number of” abuse cases are “committed within families.” He urged the assembled bishops to focus on “other forms of abuse” experienced by “child soldiers,” “starving children,” “child victims of war” and “refugee children.” He laid out an agenda that, bizarrely, focused on matters have nothing to do with clerical abuse (such as combating “sexual tourism”). And, most shamefully of all, he lashed out at those demanding that bishops who covered up abuse and silenced victims be held to account, declaring that the church must “rise above” those who “exploit, for various interests, the very tragedy experienced by the little ones.

Sorry, Holy Father, that’s not good enough.”

Not only is it not good enough. It is a sham! A disgrace! I have been a devout Catholic for most of my life. At the age of 13 I wanted to enter the convent. My father, who had other plans for me, told me no. I was heartbroken. I could see no other life for me than what the life of a nun could bring: one with God, doing his work, daily prayers and meditations to my most beloved Mother of God and all of the other spirituality that life in a convent would bring. I loved my religion. I loved the trappings that went with my church. It appealed to all of my senses and I thought that it is how it should be. The smell of incense, the sight of lighted candles, the Stations of the Cross, statues of the Mother of God and St. Joseph, the huge crucifix with our Lord hanging over the altar, taking communion and feeling one with God, the hymns of the choir, reading the mass in Latin; it was all magic to me, the magic of God, his apostles, his holy Bible and his promise to all of us of life eternal.

Years later, a Catholic priest attacked me sexually in the back of a church after I had gone to Confession. I stayed away from the church for years after that. It took me 22 years to turn him in.

To this day I am torn. No one knows more than I do the fear, the vulnerability, the shame and guilt, that follows one who has been sexually abused as a child. To have this happen by a priest many years later as an adult, chills me to the deepest layers of my heart. And yet I love my religion. I cannot bring myself to leave the church. I know no other way to worship. I’ve been in Protestant churches, Jewish temples, even Buddhist temples looking for an alternate path and always I return to the religion of my childhood.

I think of the thousands of victims of sexual abuse by the clergy who were waiting and hoping that finally the Catholic Church was going to be made accountable for this, that they would turn over all of the perpetrators, that they would end all cover-ups, that they would stop saying the guilty priests must go on retreats to ask for redemption or retire and live their life in prayer and contemplation and I am heartsick. I don’t believe anything will ever be done that will stop this abuse. I don’t think the pope will ever turn his clergy that committed child sexual abuse over to the law for punishment. I guess they think that just by being Catholic they do not have to be accountable. I guess that’s what King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella I of Castile in 1478 thought when they set up the Spanish Inquisition. I guess that’s what the Crusades were all about, officially a series of military campaigns organized by popes and Christian western powers in order to take Jerusalem and the Holy Land back from Muslim control and then defend those gains. But they were ugly and brutal, murdering innocent victims and ruining lives, destroying valuable resources, all in the name of religion. Were they accountable? Does being an organized religion mean you can literally get away with murder? In the case of child sexual abuse by the clergy that is what they are doing. They are murdering the innocence of countless children.

Is this what God intended when He created man? Is this what Jesus wanted when he preached His holy words? I think not! If only the pope would “think not”.


To view more of Marc Thiessan’s column go to:

Marc Thiessen is a columnist at The Washington Post, a Fox News contributor and a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. Thiessen served as chief speechwriter to President George W. Bush and to Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

Or statistical information on child sexual abuse please see the following Darkness to Light webpage:

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