Nate Jackson / Aug. 15, 2018

The Outrageous Catholic Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse

Over 300 “predator priests” in Pennsylvania sexually abused at least a thousand boys and girls.

In arguably the most heart-wrenching and utterly outrageous story of the #MeToo era, an 884-page grand jury report out of Pennsylvania reveals that 301 “predator priests” in six dioceses across the state sexually abused at least a thousand boys and girls over the last 70 years. The 1,000 victims are just the ones for whom hard evidence exists, meaning there were likely many, many more abuse victims.

“The abuse scarred every diocese,” Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro said. “The cover-up was sophisticated. And all the while, church leadership kept records of the abuse.” In fact, he added, “These documents, from the diocese’s own ‘secret archives,’ formed the backbone of this investigation.” Shapiro concluded, “The church protected the institution at all costs.”

The details are so sordid that we won’t repeat them here in a family publication. But the report, which builds upon previous investigations of such scandals in Boston and Philadelphia, states, “All victims were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institution above all. The main thing was not to help children, but to avoid scandal. Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: they hid it all.”

The Associated Press reports, “One senior American church official named in the grand jury report is Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who leads the Washington archdiocese, for allegedly helping to protect abusive priests when he was Pittsburgh’s bishop.” But charges have been filed against just two of the 301 accused. More than two dozen names were redacted in the report due to challenges from the Church. Many of the alleged offenders have retired or were dismissed, and in almost every case the statute of limitations has run out. More than 100 of the accused priests are deceased, though perhaps we can take solace in knowing that they are likely receiving their just and eternal punishment.

A few thoughts.

There are many faithful Christians in the Catholic Church, but the institution itself is largely as corrupt and broken as it was at the time of the Reformation 500 years ago. There must be a careful and systematic purge of offenders and a program of real reform to prevent this type of abuse in the future. Unfortunately, we would argue the Catholic Church’s very policy of a celibate priesthood feeds this behavior by prohibiting inherently sexual beings a proper outlet for their desires in a Biblical marriage of a man to a woman. Combine that with the Church’s practice of handling homosexuals by putting them in celibate positions of power over young boys and abuse is bound to happen. (Boy Scouts of America, take note.)

It’s worth repeating what our own Robin Smith wrote Monday regarding Pope Francis’s declaration against the death penalty: “It’s an interesting contrast to discuss the age-old debate about capital punishment for the most heinous crimes while we await evidence of abominable crimes alleged to have been committed within the Catholic Church.”

Finally, The Resurgent’s Peter Heck writes, “Not only have these perverted priests harmed God’s innocent children, but they have subjected the name and being of Christ to public disgrace. The Supreme Judge of the world is not ambivalent about such things.” For that we are humbled and grateful, and more than a few Catholic leaders should be terrified.

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