The Sinful Side of the Catholic Church


Katie Stinson, Sophomore Staff Writer

In a day and age when all people are learning that institutions once thought sacred may not be so much so, people now cast doubt upon the Catholic church, who has become the latest exposed offender. Let’s consider this reportedly sinful side.

Last month, a grand jury issued an appalling report that unearthed over 1,000 cases of sexual abuse at the hands of priests in Catholic churches across Pennsylvania. The report revealed that leaders of various churches, like the Roman Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, covered up the sexual abuse of more than “300 priests over a period of 70 years,” states a New York Times article. Many victims are coming forward to share their stories and confront their abusers, and activist groups are pushing for more investigations to be conducted in other religious and civic institutions throughout the United States, due to the events that happened in Pennsylvania. The accounts of the victims are both shocking and disturbing and shed light on the horrific abuse that has gone on for over seven decades.

The report investigated records of abuse dating back to 1947 in six Pennsylvania dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton. The investigation revealed the multiple ways church officials covered up and down-played the abuse. The grand jury called the Catholic churches’ methods “a playbook for concealing the truth.” Church leaders did not inform communities of the abuse that was occurring, or if priests were accused, they did not share the extent or severity of the abuse. Priests who were not experienced in handling sexual abuse cases were assigned to investigate their colleagues. Others who were accused were quickly placed in a different church in Pennsylvania or out of state. Although some priests were permanently removed from the church, church leaders who protected them still held their positions and some were even promoted. Victims were silenced when they attempted to speak up about their experience.

A controversial debate has developed in the recent weeks after the report was released involving Pope Francis’ knowledge of the abuse. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano called for Pope Francis to resign in an 11-page letter. Vigano claimed the pope knew of the abuse being committed by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who sexually assaulted seminarians and an altar boy. Even though his superiors in Rome and other heads of the church had known of the allegations against McCarrick, he still advanced though the ranks of the church. Vigano also insisted that he gave the pope a thorough report of the abuse cases involving McCarrick, and Francis failed to act on it.

How does this story affect those here at HHS?  Many of the students are of a Christian background, so they are familiar with the story and the allegations.  When asked whether or not she believed that the pope should step down, sophomore Angelina Eusanio said, “I think the pope should step down because it’s his duty to know what is happening in the Catholic Church, so he must have known about these inappropriate actions taking place.” After being asked the same question, sophomore Drake Stone responded, “In my personal opinion, the pope is partially responsible for the actions that have occurred among church officials. But for him to have to step down would be a major change in the hierarchy that could cause a lot of other issues other than the one at hand.”

Pope Francis has yet to respond to these allegations against him and hasn’t made a statement regarding the grand jury’s report. He has called for a global meeting to discuss the abuse cases in February. Nevertheless, the abuse has destroyed the lives of thousands of people and the report has left many people questioning the authority of the pope and other officials in the Catholic Church. Perhaps the Holy Father is not so holy after all.