If there’s one thing that’s damaged the credibility of the Catholic Church over the last 13 years, it’s the clergy sex abuse scandal. In addition to making national and international headlines, it has cost the American church nearly $2.9 billion dollars since 2004.
Judging from a recently-released report, it appears the scandal has “moved” to South America. From USA Today:
The Catholic Church has allowed priests accused of sexually abusing children in the United States and Europe to relocate to poor parishes in South America, a yearlong GlobalPost investigation has found.
Reporters confronted five accused priests in as many countries: Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil and Peru. One priest who relocated to a poor parish in Peru admitted on camera to molesting a 13-year-old boy while working in the Jackson, Miss., diocese. Another is currently under investigation in Brazil after allegations arose that he abused disadvantaged children living in an orphanage he founded there.
All five were able to continue working as priests, despite criminal investigations or cash payouts to alleged victims. All enjoyed the privilege, respect and unfettered access to young people that comes with being clergy members.
The priests told us they have been allowed to continue preaching unfettered, without facing internal investigations, despite Pope Francis’ pledges to clean up the church.
Sadly, it seems like business as usual—and I say this as someone who loves the Catholic faith. Too many Judases and not enough saints among the ranks of the bishopric. (I should mention that there have been priests falsely accused, and that, too, is a grave injustice.)
Pope Francis has made the following remarks about the clergy sex abuse scandal:
“On this path, the Church has done much, perhaps more than all others. The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution that has moved with transparency and responsibility. No one has done more, and yet the Church is the only one that is being attacked.”
The pope’s remarks echo those of Chicago Auxiliary Bishop Joseph Perry, who said in 2010: “Considering efforts made to heal the wounds caused by clergy misconduct, the Catholic Church is probably one of the safest places for children at this point in history.”
But not everyone agrees with that assessment.
Regarding the aforementioned report, investigator Thomas Hampson, founder of the Truth Alliance Foundation — a “charitable organization established to combat child sexual predators by teaching people how to recognize them and how to keep them away from children” — wrote in an email to me:
I’m especially upset by [the pope’s] failure to vigorously root out the predator priests. This kind of thing is inexcusable. The Vatican isn’t even responding to inquiries. If he really wants to do something about the abuse, he’d hire an independent investigator and let him go wherever the leads take him. He also would open up the files.
Hampson also writes on his organization’s Facebook page:
[T]hese criticisms can’t be leveled only at the [Catholic Church]. The same could be said for almost every church, for every organization. Every time you go to a high school graduation, for example, research tells us that 10 percent of the new grads were sexually abused by an adult in the school system K to 12.
Even our own military actively covers for its own. A few years ago it was discovered that 5,200 computers in the Pentagon had downloaded child pornography. Only a handful of the guilty have been prosecuted. Think of the implications of that.
The problem in the Catholic Church is minor compared to the overall problem. And what’s being done to address the issue? Almost nothing. Our politicians give little more than lip service and the rest of us do our best not to think about such unpleasantness. Wake up!
And let’s not forget to include Planned Parenthood. Not only is the abortion giant involved in baby-killing and the selling of fetal body parts, they’ve been caught protecting child predators as well. Click here to read the chilling report.
Incidentally, investigative journalist David Daleiden of the Center for Medical Progress, who’s now facing the massive legal wrath of the abortion industry, has said he was inspired by Pope Francis. Click here to read about that.
Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He’s been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.