How can you still be Catholic in light of the sexual abuse scandals?
Thanks to everyone who submitted responses to the question, “Why believe in an all-powerful and all-loving God with all the suffering in the world?” in last month’s newsletter. Click here to see how people answered the question.
This month’s “Whaddaya Say” is about the question, “How can you still be Catholic in light of the sexual abuse scandals?” Abuse scandals are commonly cited by fallen-away Catholics as a reason why they no longer go to Mass. After many notorious allegations against prominent Catholic clergy, there is a widespread perception that the Church is filled with sexual abuse and cover-ups. Many people do not want their financial contributions to go to a scandalous church and they see themselves as exhibiting righteous anger by staying away from Mass. Also, many use the scandal as a reason not to trust the Church. Many wonder, if the Church’s bishops and priests are largely moral scoundrels, why pay attention to what they say about morality?
So, imagine you are out evangelizing and you have the following conversation:
Evangelist: Hi, would you like a free rosary?
Other person: Oh, I probably still have one of these around the house somewhere.
E: You’re Catholic?
O: Yes. Well, I was, at least until those awful sex abuse scandals. How anyone could stay in the Church after that is beyond me. Are you still Catholic?
E: The scandals have horrified many of us, but do you feel that they’re a good reason not to be Catholic?
O: Honestly, I’m just sick of the whole situation. It’s not only the abuse, but also the coverup. Not to mention, I work hard for my money, why should I contribute it to a church full of such evil people? And now it’s just going to fund legal fees and coverups. I don’t want any part of it.
So what would you say next? Let us know using the form below.
What about the scandal of sinful Church leaders?
Since Adam and Eve, no one is above weakness and personal sin. We are a church of sinners. Judas’ betrayal, Peter’s denial, and the disciples’ abandoned Jesus during His passion. Paul and Barnabas had sharp contention, and then separated. We had a few bad popes and lay members. This is to be expected. The Church has had scandalous behavior for the entire 2000-year history. Protestant ministers have the highest divorce rate of professionals. They are neck and neck with police and prison guards. Non-professionals have a higher rate. There are 100 more times abuse in the public school system than in the Catholic Church. The way the secular media depicts this is just not reality. It takes place on dates, homes, apartments, mom’s boyfriend, public school teachers, and camp counselors, etc. It’s an ancient problem and it’s not going to go away any time soon. Priests do only half of the sexual abuse done by teachers. The Southern Baptist churches had over 700 victims of sexual abuse over 20 years. For more info Google: 20 years, 700 victims.
Man is fallen and needs the mercy of God. The people God chose in history demonstrate both His love for mankind and mankind’s ingratitude and unfaithfulness in the face of that love. The Church possesses the fullness of God’s truth and grace, and yet its leaders and members appear to be no holier than other Christians in their conduct. We need to return to God and His sacraments.– Clarence B
E: I hear you. I feel sick when I think about a priest abusing the trust of our youngsters and bishops hiding it. What allows me to move past it is the progress made by the Church in America since the Dallas Charter was published in 2002. The Church finally got their act together and now it’s one f the safest places for young people.
O: But what about all the news that came out in the last few years? It doesn’t sound like they solved anything.
E: Well, there’s two issues there. The abuses and the coverups. The changes made by the Dallas Charter stopped the abuses; however, some of the coverups are just being brought to light and with them information on abuses that for the vast majority happened before the 1990’s. Again, the instances of abuse and coverup are inexcusable, but the preventive reaction is commendable and accountability is still being worked out.
O: None of that makes me want to return.
E: I get that; it’s not supposed to. I just wanted you to know progress has been made. The reason to return to the Catholic Church is Jesus. Remember he said, “I am the way, the truth and the life”?
E: Well the Catholic Church is the church established by Jesus. It’s the only Christian church that can trace its roots back to the apostles. St. Paul calls it the Body of Christ here on earth. So the Catholic church is the best way to Jesus. It contains the fullness of truth in its teachings. Most importantly, it offers the life of Jesus through the Eucharist.
O: I do miss communion.
E: The sinful men who participated in these atrocities cannot undue the authority Jesus gave to the Church through St. Peter, the first head of the Church. Jesus promised that when he said, “The gates of hell will not prevail against it.” Won’t you please come back? Just go to confession and Mass again. Don’t give any money until you’re comfortable with that.
O: I’ll think about it.– Bill B
I try not to lose focus on the cross. Judas and every Priest, Bishop, ArchBishop, Cardinal, even the Pope himself will answer to God. What you or I do should not/cannot stain the Bride. The road to hell is full of men who betrayed their calling. Let’s not accompany them. Do whatever you can. Keep the faith, or would you prefer to go away? Peter said to Jesus, “To whom shall we go? YOU have the word of eternal life!”– Jose R
How can you not? People were Catholic when Judas betrayed Jesus, and 11 of the 12 Apostles jumped ship on Christ; Peter even denied knowing Christ 3 times. If one can survive that scandal, they can survive anything.
If you are able to accept mankind murdering God, you can sure handle any LESS evil….even as despicable as the sexual abuse is. NOTHING is worse than killing God!– Jason V
How can you still send your child to school? How can you still allow your child to participate in organized sports? How can you watch any movies? How can you watch television programs? How can you do anything, as sexual abuse and exploitation is literally plaguing every institution in our society?
If you are singling out the Church in your criticism and giving others a pass (who are equally if not more offensive in giving a solid pass and protection to abusers), your focus is not on sexual abuse but on seeking criticism for the Church.– Toni A
I mean you’re literally asking – why would you stick with a belief system because some other people did the exact opposite of what that belief system teaches.– RMD
Let The wheat and the weeds grow together. If you attempt to weed now you might destroy some of the wheat so let them grow and cut them down at harvest and separate the wheat from the weeds, and then the weeds will be burned. Wisdom of the owner of the field in the Gospels.– Joachim M
How could I resist? Why would I let another’s sin keep me from God? I am trying to worry about my own sin. We are all sinners and there is sexual abuse and wolves in every religion and occupation.– Kelly R
I’m Catholic not because of the pope or the bishops but for Jesus Christ who established it almost 2000 years ago.– Elsa T
The church is not built on perfect people but consists of sinners striving for perfection.– Eli B