The Catholic Church has had a long history of sexual abuse scandals with their priests, cardinals, and bishops. It is no secret that the Church uses their power to cover up these scandals. The question that I want to ask the Church is why is nothing being done about this?
In one of my past articles, I wrote about how I was born and raised Catholic but eventually fell out of it. Part of the reason why I did fall out of it was that I learned about the negligence of the Church when it came to sexual abuse scandals against their members. It sickened me. It made me feel embarrassed to be Catholic. I was ashamed to be a part of a community that was hiding something so terrible.
In 2015, the movie Spotlight, starring Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Rachel McAdams, was released. It documents how the Spotlight team at the Boston Globe uncovered the decades-long cover-up by the highest level of the Boston religious community. Former priest John Geoghan was accused by almost 130 people of fondling and raping young boys. After watching this movie and reading the article, I was shocked. I couldn't believe that so many people had taken part in covering up for Geoghan even though he had ruined the lives of so many young boys.
When you watch a movie, you know that it is not reality and that it's just something that a couple people made for you to spend money on and enjoy. But, Spotlight isn't just a movie; it is a reality. These scandals happen everywhere. They happen all the time. Some don't get thrown into the light until years later. Right now, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is being accused of sexually abusing seminarians in 2013. And it just now became known to the public. Cardinal McCarrick was first removed from public ministry in June after allegations that he had sexually abused a teenage altar boy 47 years ago came into light. The Church had known for DECADES about this abuse, but did nothing, besides moving him from parish to parish in order to keep the accusations under control. Oh, wait. Did I forget to mention that the Church paid off some of the men who were accusing the Cardinal?
Robert Ciolek was a young man, wanting to become a priest in the 1980s. At the time, McCarrick was a bishop and began to invite Ciolek on overnight trips. On these trips, they would stay in the same room and McCarrick would ask Ciolek to touch him. Years later, Ciolek spoke publicly about the abuse and how traumatic it was for him since he was sexually abused by a teacher in high school. Later, it was made known that the diocese that McCarrick was a part of at the time, secretly paid settlements to Ciolek for his allegations against the bishop. While all of this was happening, McCarrick played the role of publicizing the Church's no tolerance policy against abusing children. Ironic right?
When all of this information came out in June, the Cardinal resigned. He is the first cardinal to resign due to sexual abuse accusations. Pope Francis accepted his resignation without hesitation. On Sunday, however, Archbishop Carlo Viganó accused Pope Francis as being one of the people who helped cover up the accusations against McCarrick in 2013. The Pope was asked if there was any truth to this accusation and instead of answering the question, he said that he believes "the statement speaks for itself. It's an act of trust."
Even though I do not believe in the Catholic Church anymore, I do believe in Pope Francis. He is the most accepting and adaptable Pope that the Church has seen. His willingness to create change within the Church is inspiring to many, but also infuriating to Conservatives. I know that he will do the right thing when it comes to handling this scandal.
While I trust Pope Francis to do the right thing, the same cannot be said for the rest of the Church hierarchy. They will do what it takes to keep their image as pure and pristine as possible. And if that means paying off those who have been abused by priests when they were younger, then so be it. They are using their power to hide who they really are. But, it is time that these priests and cardinals pay for what they have done. The Church cannot hide behind their power anymore. They must be held accountable for the hundreds of lives that have been ruined by priests who claim they are "innocent."