Archdiocese struggles in response to sexual abuse scandal

By Editorial Board
September 30, 2005

With the recent release of the grand jury report of the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal, clergy and laypersons of the church have been left in a pool of various emotions, often strongly conflicting.

The report, as many have seen, is extremely graphic and disturbing in terms of the detail provided about each selected incident. The actions of these alleged perpetrators represented a definite evil that lurked within the Catholic Church, a place in which people go to worship God and frequently fallback-on in times of need.

Due to this report and the disturbing actions taken by these few members of the clergy, the strong trust that once held the Catholic Church together has now been weakened. Victims of the offenses were permanently damaged.

If the grand jury report is completely accurate head church officials like Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol hiding multiple offenses on repeated occasions, then a good portion of these vile abuses could have been avoided if they had acted properly.

As a result of the abuse and the allegations of cardinals knowingly relocating suspected pedophiles, some members of the Catholic Church have opted to not return. Although leaving the Church is the most drastic of alternatives to this scandal, few people have done so.

For the most part, the people of the Archdiocese have stood by the church. For many, the horrific incidents were embarrassing and confusing, but their faith in God has not changed.

At disappointing stages such as this, many laypersons have focused primarily on the Word of God, rather than the person delivering it. Their trust in God will not waver and prayer is offered for the Catholic Church as a whole.

It is of the utmost importance to keep in mind that the priests in question were a very small percentage of the overall clergy. Although this fact is in no way attempting to validate the abuses that occurred, hopefully people will keep in mind that there are still many outstanding priests in the archdiocese.

It was difficult and somewhat awkward to witness the homilies at mass this past Sunday. Different opinions from the clergy expressed feelings of anger and disgust. Probably the most troubling was to hear a priest, a man in such a respectable and powerful position, tell a story of how for the first time since his ordination he was ashamed of his job.

The offenses that took place, however, would make anyone feel guilty or embarrassed of any association. The Catholic Church since 2002 has taken steps toward never letting something like this happen again. From education of leaders and children of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to stricter rules for the clergy, the church has made strides.

For the time being, the negativity will surely continue. Sexual abuses that have affected a select number of children for decades will not just disappear. For years the church must work on reconciliation with the victims.

Whether or not church officials will be prosecuted is one thing, but we must make sure that the new rules and education are most definitely enforced. These issues are necessary in order to reestablish trust with the parishioners so we never have to go through such a disturbing situation again.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Editorial Board

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