Whether you think it deserves it or not, the Catholic Church has largely become a child sex abuse meme., as if the two were synonymous or the crime defined the institution. You certainly get this message from the liberal barometer (or lightning rod) that Saturday Night Live is, with comedian Colin Jost cracking on the season finale last week, “There are a growing number of nuns joining Tik Tok to show what life in a convent is really like, because when the Catholic Church try to connect with young people, it always goes well. Ha ha.
Of course, the Catholic Church isn’t the only institution that’s been burned and scarred by sexual abuse by its wayward members, but it’s got the sexual abuse sticker on its forehead in a way that d ‘others certainly did not. The Harvey Weinstein scandal and other entertainment criminals like Bill Cosby and R. Kelly didn’t portray all artists as a pack of perverts, even with all the rage of the #MeToo movement.
There’s just a tougher treatment done to the Church, and this because of its stated purpose of pastoral care and moral behavior. The irony of the crisis is too strong for the hyperbole of humor and derogatory, derivative attitudes, and now Catholics seem to have some sort of monopoly on sexual abuse. In fact, it is the culture we live in that is, in many ways, defined by abuse, and that culture is what has infected the Church.
Even though it probably won’t make the headlines (or SNL) as much as the Catholic Church has done and will do, Southern Baptists are currently in the midst of their own growing and massive scandal with a sexual abuse and cover-up investigation report spanning years and hundreds of abusive pastors. According to the report, the executive committee of the Southern Baptist Convention allowed the predators to move from congregation to congregation and vigorously suppressed calls to bring the perpetrators to light and face legal action.
But now a list of ministers accused of sexual misconduct and abuse is about to be released – similar to the John Jay report and the AG reports which revealed abuse and cover-ups within the Catholic Church – in hopes of bringing to this religious body the scouring that the Church has suffered for years and hopefully to ensure safety and holiness. The disease is deep and wide, and if the Catholic Church is to take center stage in this tragedy, it should be as an advocate for victims and a flagship of prevention. And although there is more awareness, and there are more safety programs and efforts within the Church and its policies, there is still too much silence, fear and ideological acceptance of lifestyles and characters that are drawn to abuse.
Take the recent arrest of Fr. Gregory Loughney here in the Diocese of Scranton. Loughney was caught in an undercover operation where he believed he was communicating with a 15-year-old boy online in shocking and explicit terms and went on a date with him seeking sexual activity. Although the bishop condemned his behavior and such behavior in any priest, which is good, there was still a blindness to this man’s story of embezzling money from the Church to finance lavish European vacations with other men and even accusations of sexual abuse – all signs that point to one that shouldn’t be in the hands of souls. At some point, one has to wonder when the bishops will learn and open their eyes to the intrusion that continues to occur to this day.
The Church and its members and ministers will only continue to fail in their duty if they do not recognize with constant humility the mistakes that have been made with serious consequences. while also recognizing with unwavering humility the moral code of the Church and natural law. The humility that episcopal offices must inspire is precisely the virtue that can end the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church and beyond, because these corruptions are nourished by arrogance. It is in humility that bishops and priests, men and women, are powerful and can truly protect the Church, even in the darkest times. It is the virtue that Catholics must master and reflect as those who have been damaged by the betrayal of trust placed in so many abusive priests and empowering bishops.
Since the authoritarian structure of the Church suffered such invasion and alteration, bishops in particular should work to effect the necessary change by their gentleness not so much fundamentally as fundamentally. Although the world often expresses its expectation that such changes will involve a complete remodeling of the Faith to fit modern paradigms, it is a restoration of traditional principles that the pope and his bishops are called to achieve – even if that means dispense with some old- fashioned formality and bureaucracy and certainly all new notions of tolerance.
Cardinal Bergoglio’s story of gently, or moderately, opposing the Argentine government’s homosexual agenda, and now, under Pope Francis’ watch, the protracted downfall of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the shameful expose of Bishop of the USCCB. Jeffrey Burrill, the ongoing Fr. James Martin scandal, and the recent strike against liturgical tradition all paint a bleak picture of the plight of Church pastors from the bottom to the top.
Pope Francis’ mark of humility, unfortunately, is not one that seems calculated for resolute action. Although there may be some academic value in asking, “Who am I to judge?” there are times when judgment, however severe, is required, as well as the humble admission of fault and sin. Without humility, there will be no healing. The Catholic Church is just one of the institutions where sexual abuse is rampant, and it is rampant everywhere. As people who cling to the truth of human imperfection and the devastating effects of moral relativism and a sexualized society, it should be up to Catholics to raise awareness of the abuses, sexual and otherwise, that govern a selfish society. and hedonistic.
From the perverse indulgence of pornography to the selfish murder of unborn children; from the flagrant use of recreational drugs to the willful desecration of the sacrament of marriage through divorce and contraception; from the mutilation of mind and body and the law to accommodate personal sexual or sex preferences, to the rude and judgmental behavior that is so prevalent, ours is a culture that is locked in addiction to abuse – addicted to ourselves and others, quickly making absolutely nothing sacred. Dostoyevsky spoke with chilling truth when he wrote that if God does not exist, everything is permitted – and that the age without God has dawned and is at noon.
A look at the sensationalized ugliness of the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard libel trial, for example, shows a shocking desensitization to the abuse in the widespread fascination with it. The media circus around this grotesque affair, broadcasting and live-streaming abuse as entertainment, is in itself proof of the abuse that all are affected by and many are addicted to. And that’s not good for anyone, especially victims of abuse who should expect to find protection and healing, but who are often subjected to different forms of abuse in a seemingly perpetual cycle of indecency, especially to the internet age. Postings like this lawsuit normalize abuse and are symptomatic of a deep evil.
Human beings are weak and imperfect and will make mistakes, and admitting this quality of our fallen nature is the first step in finding solutions. Only those who are humble enough to admit the error can ever correct it. The Catholic Church has been overtaken by the error of licentious and lying people, but the conclusion should not be that the Church is made up of sins, but rather that the Church is made up of sinners who confess their sins and decide to do not sin. After.
To borrow a Chesttonian phrase, getting into hot water is the best way to cleanse yourself; and Catholics should not hesitate to admit and denounce the evil that has escaped the sleeping (or permissive) guards of the Church. Moreover, we all know what has been said about the house being divided against itself. If anything can defend against such demolition, it is humility.
As all reasonable minds know, sexual abuse is not a “Catholic thing”. But it’s a cultural thing, it’s sad to say, and the Catholic Church has been invaded by this culture of complacency that will take what it wants and resort more and more to means that consider less and less the good of others. Yet the invasion and ignorance of this vicious lifestyle is a huge failure of a Church that stands in the world but not of the world. Southern Baptists have their own account, as do many more institutions than making headlines and punchlines. These humiliations have been especially attributed to the Catholic Church, and only humility can make us worthy of this cross and able to bear it for the salvation of souls.