This year, we have seen a lot of news coming out of the Catholic Church abuse scandal. It seemed to shock everyone involved, but it should not come as a shock to anyone. The Catholic Church has been abusing its power almost unchecked for thousands of years. In America alone, clergy members have not abused hundreds, but tens of thousands of young boys throughout the years.
Unfortunately, this number skyrockets when you consider the fact that most sexual abuse is not reported. The reported rate for sexual abuse among young boys is extremely low. Coupled with the fact that these priests are people that the community trusts, it makes for a worrying combination.
It is worse than it seems
This combination of trust and abuse of power leads me to believe that abuse among priests is far worse than what is being reported. In 2004, a church report found that over 400 priests had been accused of sexual misconduct in the last 50 years. This amounted to over 10,000 children, most of them being young boys. In 2009, an Irish report found that priest sexual abuse was “endemic” throughout the 20th century.
More recently, in August, a Pennsylvania Jury named more than 300 clergy members in Pennsylvania alone that carried out child sex abuse. The list goes on, but one thing is obvious. The Catholic Church does not care about the protection of our children. They are more interested in perpetuating their power and reach. They want to protect themselves. This systemic abuse of power is a historic trend in the church. Recently, Pope Francis has spoken out against the Catholic Church abuse that the church has orchestrated, but it is too little, too late. Thousands of years have gone by without the issue being solved so it is apparent that the Catholic Church is incapable of policing its own priests.
The Church for thousands of years has been unquestioned in its practices. They are seen as protectors of religious values and morals while their clergy members are routinely carrying out abuse after abuse. In the mid-1900s it has been shown that the church, instead of addressing the issue, opted to move priests to different locations instead of prosecuting them.
This kind of systemic abuse would bring the shutdown of almost any other organization, but there has always been a special exception for The Church. Thousands of years have gone by with this precedent of exemption from the rule of law with the expectation that they would take care of it internally. Their religion has been their protector and their barrier from the laws that the rest of society abides by every day. It is unacceptable to continue to let them abuse our children and claim the moral authority that they wish to occupy. Keep in mind, this is not new. The Catholic Church has caused the pain and suffering of millions of people over the years. They have never been the moral authority. They have put up a cloak of religion to hide their atrocities and move forward with their agenda.
Historic Abuses of The Catholic Church
Historically, the Catholic Church has a long list of atrocities and abuses. I do recognize that they were different, less secular times but the same pattern persists. It is a pattern of abuse of knowledge and power to further their own agenda that still persists to this day. Spanning from about 500 to 1517 is the abuse of indulgences. Indulgences themselves are not an abuse, but the way they were commonly implemented was an abuse. Indulgences are supposed to be given when someone performs a Christian act in order to absolve themselves from sin.
This by itself is not an abuse, but the Catholic Church twisted the concept and made it profitable to them. They were selling indulgences, mainly to the poor, as a type of “get out of jail free” card. The idea was that people would pay to feel confident that they were not going to Hell. This persisted until Martin Luther spoke out against the practice in his 95 theses. Another crime of the church were the crusades, which lasted from the 1100s to 1300. The idea of the crusades was to purge the world of sinners and heretics. This served the church by displaying their reach and power. Putting it simply, most people were given the choice to convert to Catholicism or be executed. The Church actively encouraged the torture and death of an estimated 1.7 million Jews, Muslims, and other religious sects. It was the belief of the Church at the time that non-Catholics were an enemy of the Church and should be destroyed.
In addition to these abuses, there is also the general disregard for human life by the Catholic Church over the years. It is estimated that as many as 100,000 “witches” were killed in hunts during the middle ages alone. The Catholic Church has time and time again showed a pattern of abuse of knowledge and power that is followed by a disregard for human life. The hypocrisy of this could be a discussion by itself. Many people feel that the Catholic Church is the guardian of human life, but that simply isn’t the case looking at the evidence. They have always served their own needs, desires, and goals. These abuses only scratch the surface of what the Church has done. The Catholic Church’s monitoring and policing of itself is a fantasy. It is not capable of doing so.
A Possible Solution
In today’s world, the Catholic Church still very much exists in a bubble protected by morals, ideology, and of course religion. I am not arguing that religion is a bad thing. Many people need religion for peace, security, and to have faith in something. They look to churches for guidance as well as a sense of community and belonging. There are many good Catholics in the world that do good work and help people. That being said, the Church has shown it is incapable of objectively monitoring itself without serving their own interests.
The best solution may be to bring a private entity to monitor the Catholic Church. If the Church is unable to monitor itself, it is necessary for the governments of the world to step in and stop the perpetuation of the issue. This watchdog’s job would be to hold the Church accountable for its actions and leave religion to the Church. Every member involved in the Clergy should be required by government to be mandatory reporters of sexual abuse. The time of the Church policing itself is over. It doesn’t work. The amount of human suffering the Church has caused at the expense of victims is too great to grant special exceptions any longer. The time to act is now. The safety of the world, and our children, depends on it.