The Successes and Failures of the Catholic Church
This week we will be discussing some of the catastrophic failures of the Catholic Church. Given the sensitive nature of some of the subject matter to be discussed, nobody is required to review these materials if they prefer not to do so. Nevertheless, if we as a church community are going to move past the heinous acts of clergy and church leaders, we need to face our failures, accept responsibility, make things right to the extent possible and take affirmative steps to prevent similar events in the future. We will also discuss the many good things the Catholic Church has done and continues to do for the world.
The most heinous of the Catholic Church's failings in recent history is the sexual abuse scandal which has impacted generations of children both nationally and internationally. This scandal gave rise to a Grand Jury Investigation in the State of Pennsylvania which revealed systemic abuse of children by priests and a church leadership that did little, if anything, to prevent it. Here is a link to the Grand Jury Report if you wish to read it, but I warn you, it is graphic. A brief summary of the Report can be found in this Washington Post article.
In 2002, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, met in Dallas, Texas, to develop protocols designed to protect children from abuse. It also included guidelines for reconciliation, healing, accountability, and prevention of future acts of abuse. Here is the most recent revision to what is known as The Dallas Charter.
When trying to comprehend such unbelievable conduct, I try to get the perspective of people I trust. Speaking for myself only, this would include Father Mike Schmitz and Bishop Robert Barron. I have included a helpful video clip from each which helped me understand how such events can occur in a church that places so much value on protecting the most vulnerable members of society.
As sad and disheartening as the Church's conduct has been with regard to the sexual abuse scandal, we must not forget that the Church, just like each one of us, should not be defined solely by its failings and we must remind ourselves that the Catholic Church has also helped billions of people over the past 2000 years in areas such as thought, education, healthcare, housing and employment. Here is an article which discusses some of the many success stories in which the Catholic Church played a central role. Below is a video showing you how much Catholic Charities in New York do for the poorest of the poor.