That being said, we really need to understand what is going on here. USA Today has published a piece saying more Catholics than ever are thinking about leaving the Church. What I say to that is: if your faith is in man, you should leave. But if your faith is in Christ (which is where it should be), don't let the sins of man drive you out. The Church has survived scandals before, and it will survive this one. (That part of the Gospel where Jesus tells us that He builds His Church on a rock, and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it is relevant here.)
Also (and this is where things get really unpopular), many of the victims are adolescent boys, as opposed to true pedophilia. This has led many to understand that a large portion of the abuse is related to homosexuality. Others say this is not true: it's just that boys are more "readily accessible," if you will, to clergy. Boys, they say, are the ones who are altar servers, for instance, or that a priest showing interest in a boy is welcome to many parents.
That's utterly wrong. Go to any parish in the US and you will see at least as many girls serving Mass as boys. And I don't know a single parent who would allow a priest to take their son out without supervision at this point. We all know that this is a huge red flag. It is prudent, therefore, to examine the role of homosexuality in this area. We must be willing to discuss this issue. By simply saying, "Nope, homosexuality has got nothing to do with it," we may be putting children and adolescents at risk. We cannot trade one sacred cow (the priesthood) for another (homosexuality.)
The other topic that must be open for discussion is that this abuse is not solely a problem for the Catholic Church. It is an issue for our Protestant brothers and sisters as well. In fact, the issue of clergy abuse is even harder for Protestants to deal with: there is no hierarchy in place for many of them, making it easier for abusers to move, hide and continue to offend. All Christians must be willing to frankly and openly address this issue in their own parishes and churches, and not leave it for Church officials and governing bodies to deal with.
We must also be willing to acknowledge that what happens in the Church is a reflection of our society at large. For decades, we've been told that "anything goes" as far as our sexual appetites are concerned. What was unthinkable just a few years ago is now mainstream.
Good Lord, we have drag queens reading to kindergarten classes and we kill tens of thousands of babies out of "convenience." We've got parents okaying hormone treatment on children under the age of ten because they think their kid was "born in the wrong body." We cannot sexualize our children on one hand, and then be shocked when predators come for them on the other. Our culture is sick, and it's no surprise that our faith communities reflect that. Is it not time to - again, at the VERY LEAST - be willing to discuss how these issues affect us, our kids, our faith?
And to anyone who is thinking of leaving the Church because of these scandals: please stay. Help be part of the solution. Make sure our kids are safe. But most of all: put your faith in Christ, not the priest, not the bishops, not the cardinals. They are sinners all; only Christ will be our salvation.
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