Catholic priests in scandal

By Justine DiFilippo
April 11, 2002

Bernadette Hazel

In the past month headlines of every major newspaper ran cover stories on priests molesting boys. Until now the Catholic Church has been hiding information to protect priests. Through all the press coverage the Roman Catholic Church cannot hide these cases any more.

Students and faculty of Cabrini share opinions about trust and disgust over the recent allegations.

“It’s disgusting,” senior Lindsay Thomas said. “It’s going to take a lot to regain the trust of the people. People look at other priests now and wonder if they too molest boys.”

Searc h leader John Verdi, a junior, agrees with Thomas that the actions of the priests and the church are questionable and believes that the church will suffer further in recruiting future priests.

“It’s deterring guys from the priesthood because they don’t want to be caught up in the hype,” Verdi said. “It’s going to make them think.”

In the mid ’80s, the church thought differently. Accusations had emerged but were quickly covered by the Catholic Church and the Vatican. Many of the victims, instead of going to the police with the complaint of sexual abuse, went to the priest who was in charge. The government has allowed the church to punish as it sees fit. The separation of church and state brought about this decision. The church decided to punish the priests by simply them to what is seen as a problem parish. They were not removed from areas of work that involved children.

This is not just happening in the United States. There are reported cases coming out of Ireland and Poland as well. The pope recently excommunicated a bishop in Ireland because of child molestations.

The church at the beginning of this wave of abuse charges tried once again to squander the problem. The names were not released, and people continued to go to the parish with complaints. Priests finally told the congregations to go to the police with the complaints.

Mary Laver, coordinator of community outreach, is concerned and upset at the harm done to children who are now adults. “It is a destruction of trust between the congregation and the leaders of the church,” Lacer said.

Until recently names were not given to the police by the church. Many of the names were sent to the Vatican where they were kept safe and away from the public’s eyes.

Tuesday April 9, 2002, nine priests were suspended in Cleveland because of sexual abuse, 12 others were named and had been previously removed for the same charges. Monday April 8, the New York diocese named six priests and removed them from the church.

The problem with many of these cases is that they happened more then 20 years ago. In accordance of with law, after seven years it cannot be brought to court. Now mass numbers of people are coming forward.

Laver feels there are many steps the church could take to rectify the situation. She says, “Discussions on a serious level should take place making the mandatory celibacy an option among the priests. The church should make a decision on who can perform priestly functions, and women should be allowed to be a bigger part of mass.”

The pope was quoted in the New York Times, calling it the worst form of evil. It is also being said by the Catholic Church that it is beginning to think about ending celibacy.

Priests were not always celibate in the Catholic Church. It was not until the renaissance era that this had changed. Priests since the beginning of time had lived and raised their families on church property. As families grew and the priests died the children were to inherit the land, and many of them did not become priests. The church was losing so much land that, in order to stop this, it was decided that priests should be celibate. Those who had families were to send their wives and children to the Vatican where they became slaves.

The Catholic religion is the only religion that does not allow their leaders to marry, and remain celibate. To date is also the only religion to deal with so many sexual abuse charges.

In September 2002 Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua has called a synod to discuss the state of the church. He had made plans for this synod last summer this time inviting all lay people to join in the discussion. This is a good opportunity for all Catholics who either doubt their faith or who want to ask questions to get them answered.

Laver said, “We should deeply pray for the victims, but this is not the only thing we should do. It is time for the secrecy to stop. Honesty is the answer and it should be dealt in an open manner.”

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Justine DiFilippo

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