The Abuse & Hypocrisy Of The Church And Is It Going To Change Any Time Soon?

The cases of sexual abuse, particularly of minors (some as young as 3 yrs old) and the subsequent cover-ups committed all along the 20th and 21st centuries by numerous Catholic priests, nuns, and members of Roman Catholic orders are no secret. The acts have led to numerous allegations, investigations, trials and convictions of these very people who vow to a life of celibacy.

To look at the history, the accusations began to receive wide publicity in the late 1980s. Many of these cases involve a figure who is accused of abuse for decades. We have also seen cases been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who covered up sex abuse allegations.

These cases have received significant media and public attention throughout the world, especially in Ireland, Canada, and the United States. Surprisingly, the members of the Church’s hierarchy argue that media coverage has been excessive and disproportionate, and that such abuse also takes place in other religions and institutions.

Many of these shameful happenings were highlighted by a series of television documentaries in the 1990s, such as “Suffer the children” (UTV, 1994), which brought the issue to national attention in Ireland. A critical investigation by The Boston Globe in 2002 led to widespread media coverage of the issue in the United States, which was later dramatized in Tom McCarthy’s Oscar winning film Spotlight in 2015 and by 2010 we had much of the reporting focused on abuse in Europe.

This highlight raised a lot of hue and cry over the Church’s proceedings and especially the Church’s inability to take strict action curb the menace has led to a lot of fury. Although some studies claim that the rate of abuse has fallen sharply in the last 20-30 years, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse revealed that 7% of Australian priests between 1950-2009 were accused of abusing children. It also added that one Catholic order had 40.4% of their non-ordained members with allegations against them during this period.

All of this is propounded by the mass fear of reporting against the Church and taking on the powerful body. Studies say the average time it took between a victim being abused and reporting it, or seeking redress, is about 33 years.

Still some action has seen the Holy See, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, considering the sex abuse allegations involving about 3,000 priests dating back up to fifty years. These are the figures of its action from 2001 to 2010. The cases worldwide reflect the repeated patterns of long-term abuse and of the church hierarchy regularly covering up the reports of alleged abuse.

To that effect with the rising media and public pressure, the then Pope Benedict issued an apology to those who had suffered from child abuse in Ireland in March 2010. The letter stated that the Pope was “truly sorry” for their suffering, and that “nothing can undo the wrong you have endured. Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity violated.”

Nevertheless, the letter failed to address the real concerns, it ended up presenting the issue to be within the Church in Ireland, rather than acknowledging that it was a systemic problem.

With, the arrival of Pope Francis the things look a little better. He has been vocal against the issue and is being the seen as the one who will reform the centuries old bureaucratic Curia of the Roman Church. But the real action is yet to come and many with good cardinal friends can be seen to be let of easily, thus enraging the victims.

So, are these the changing times for the Church? Will Pope Francis be able to reform the Church or will he end up sinking in the murky Church’s systematic issues?

To conclude-Hopefully, yes. But tough to call out considering the history and the roots of the issue, and it can’t be expected to sorted out soon.

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