Saturday, April 02, 2011

The Church will not be Silent

The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is a terrible one. Many children and young people were victimized, which caused lasting effects in many cases. Even one case would be far too many. Many people are rightfully concerned about the safety and welfare of children in the context of the Church.

However, some people see this as an opportunity to silence the Church on moral issues. Just yesterday I wrote an article about April Fools Day, and I received a response which basically said I should not be writing anything about April Fools because of the sex abuse scandals which happened in the Church. This is actually very common on my blog. I write on a particular topic which has to do with morality, and I receive a comment which tells me to stop talking about morality because there was a sex abuse scandal.

Other times, there will be articles published on news websites, including editorials, which may address any number of issues and if it is related to the Church in any way, they will simply make reference to the sex abuse scandal to completely dismiss any relevant points. For example, an article was published on half a million dollars being stolen from the Archdiocese of St. John's and a large number of the comments simply made reference to the sex abuse scandal as if to say stealing money from them is irrelevant.

This approach is simply illogical. First of all, I am not a spokesperson for the Catholic Church. Secondly, the Church will not be silenced. Jesus Christ established the Church to speak in matters of faith and morals and to guide the world to do the right thing. Ignoring the Church is ignoring Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is a fact which cannot be avoided. No matter how much people want to attack the Church, this does not diminish its unique role as revealer of Truth on matters of faith and morals.

But the approach being employed by many people is illogical for other reasons as well. There are some in the Church who have abused children, but this is something that happens in all sectors of society. Any study that has been done on the subject reveals that levels of abuse in other religions, organizations, etc. are as high or higher than that of the Catholic Church.

Would anyone ever say they will not listen to a school teacher on math, science, history, etc. because some teachers have abused children? In fact, at a much higher rate than priests? I've never heard anyone say this. How about if there was an article published showing a lack of funding for education, would people say who cares about education, some teachers have abused kids!

Some may respond by saying that the Catholic Church is different because it moved priests to other dioceses. Well, there is more than meets the eye here. Most abuse in the Catholic Church occurred at least 30 years ago or more. In those times, it was commonly held knowledge that an abuser could be reformed and brought back into society. This was the advice of psychologists, so that's what happened. Now we know the difference. It may shock many people to find out that teachers were also moved from one school to another if a case of sexual abuse was reported. You can read my article on this here.

But the point is, there has been sexual abuse in all sectors of society: other religious institutions, boy scouts, swim teams, hockey teams, and other sports teams, schools, hospitals, etc. The rates are the same or higher in these places than in the Catholic Church.

Some believe that the sex abuse situation in the Catholic Church remains the same and that no improvement has been made. In fact, a large number of people believe the Church has done absolutely nothing and continues to hide abuse. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Church has always affirmed that sexually abusing minors is one of the gravest sins. But since the scandal broke, the Church has become a model of good behavior in this regard. In 2008, there were only 6 credible allegations of possible cases of sex abuse among 40,000 priests. In fact, the next time you read an article on sex abuse in the Church, find out the year it happened. It will probably be 30+ years ago. Cases are nearly non-existent now. But even more to the point, the Church in America has adopted a zero-tolerance policy. If there is even a rumour that a priest have committed an inappropriate sexual act, he is removed from ministry until the issue is settled. If convicted, he is removed from ministry. The pope has consistently spoken out against abuse and called it "filth" in the Church. He has met with victims and they felt he really understood them. I have not seen anything close to comparable to this from any other organization.

The Church has a mandate from Jesus Christ to continue teaching faith and morals in this world. No other organization speaks with the moral authority of the Church and that's why people are so intent on undermining it. People will continue to use the sex abuse scandal as an excuse to ignore good morals. Keep in mind, I'm not saying the abuse by priests was not a terrible thing. It was. But we cannot throw the baby out with the bathwater. The Church condemns these actions as much as anyone else. To imply that the Church somehow condones there actions is absurd. 1% bad priests should not tarnish the image of the other 99%.

I will end by saying what I commonly hear on Catholic Answer Live by Tim Staples. He says "Don't leave Peter because of Judas". Jesus himself chose Judas as one of the Twelve, and Judas betrayed our Lord in the most grievous way, yet Jesus didn't say now people can stop listening to him and his Church because of this. Jesus Christ gave his Church the authority to speak on matters of faith and morals and we are obliged to listen. Jesus warned us of wolves in sheep's clothing, but he didn't say at the first sign of sin, leave his Church. Christ's Church is a hospital for sinners, not a hotel for saints. If we expect the members of the Church to be flawless, we better reevaluate our assumptions.


  1. I am blown away by your line

    "Ignoring the Church is ignoring Jesus Christ, the Son of God. This is a fact which cannot be avoided. No matter how much people want to attack the Church, this does not diminish its unique role as revealer of Truth on matters of faith and morals."

    You can't avoid or hide the sex scandal any longer, and it does destroy any trust anyone would have had in the church.

    Jesus Christ never would have raped a child. Jesus Christ never would have moved a child rapist to another place where they could rape more children. Jesus Christ never would have lied about it and hid the truth until lawyers and investigators ripped the truth out of their hands.

    And Jesus Christ never, ever would have shunned and discredited God's children who were raped by priests.

    This church did all of the above, and God is letting it all be known now so that people can realize that these church leaders don't represent him anymore.

  2. To PatO,

    Obviously Jesus didn't sin, everyone knows that. We also know he established a Church with 12 original apostles for leadership. As the Church grew, more leaders were needed (bishops). But even one of Christ's original twelve leaders committed one of the gravest sins, betrayed Jesus Christ himself. After he was betrayed, did Jesus say, "Ok everyone, you can stop listening to my church now, because a leader committed a serious sin."? No, he didn't. The Church is composed of sinners, which would include priests who abused children, or bishops who allowed them to abuse more children. Peter also denied Jesus three times, yet Jesus made him the chief of the apostles.

    The point I'm trying to make here is that yes, there is sin in the Church, sometimes very grave sin, but Jesus still tells people to listen to his Church and says the gates of hell will not prevail against it.

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