Ethics & Religion
August 16, 2018
Church Hid Sex
Abuse of 1,000+ Children
By Mike McManus
Pennsylvania Grand Jury has accused 300 priests of sexually molesting
1,000 children, and added there are probably thousands more. "Priests
were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God not only did
nothing, they hid it all for decades," the Grand Jury charged.
The 1,400-page report described some of the abuse with disturbing
- One boy was repeatedly raped from ages 13-15 whose abuser bore
down hard on the boy's back, causing severe spinal injuries. The boy
became addicted to painkillers and died of an overdose.
- A priest raped a young girl in the hospital to have her tonsils
- Another priest was allowed to stay In ministry after he
impregnated a young girl and arranged for her to have an abortion.
The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church surfaced in 2002 in
Boston. The church has paid billions of dollars in settlements yet the
scandal has only grown with time. A week before the Pennsylvania report,
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington, was forced
by Pope Francis to resign when he was credibly accused of sexually
abusing young priests, seminarians, and boys - decades ago.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the current Washington archbishop, is a prominent
figure in the report because he was archbishop of Pittsburgh for 18
years when he did remove some abusive priests but allowed others to
continue in parish ministry.
Unfortunately, only two priest molesters were prosecuted, due to the
state's statute of limitations. "As a consequence of the cover-up (by
bishops like Wuerl) almost every instance of abuse we found is too old
to be prosecuted," the Grand Jury lamented.
Victims of child abuse have until they are 30 to file civil suits and
until they are 50 to file criminal charges. "Due to the church's
manipulation of our weak laws in Pennsylvania, too many predators were
out of reach," Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro asserted at a
State Rep. Mark Rozzi said he was raped by a priest at his Catholic
school in Berks County, PA. The same priest, he charged, sexually abused
one of his childhood friends who committed suicide in 2009.
Rozzi called on fellow legislators to pass a law that would eliminate
the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution of sexual abuse of
children. That's a major solution which was endorsed by the Grand Jury.
It also called for a law to allow older victims to sue a diocese for
damage inflicted upon them as children, tighter laws that mandate the
reporting of abuse and an end to nondisclosure agreements when
settlements have been reached.
Pennsylvania has conducted more investigations of church-sparked child
abuse than any other state.
What it found was that the church hierarchy covered up major crimes by
its priests to protect the church's reputation - with no sense of
responsibility to protect children from its predatory priests.
Worldwide, many national law enforcement agencies are targeting child
abuse by the church's priests. In Chile, prosecutors and police are
confiscating documents and looking for evidence of crimes that were not
reported to police. On Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that
authorities were raiding the headquarters of Chile's Catholic Episcopal
In France, Cardinal Phillippe Barbarin is facing a trial on criminal
charges of not reporting sexual abuse. In Australia, an archbishop was
recently convicted in a criminal court for concealing sexual abuse.
Even in the Vatican, Cardinal George Pell, a top lieutenant of Pope
Francis, will soon stand trial for charges related to sexual offenses.
However, no report to date has been as thorough as that by the Grand
Jury in Pennsylvania. Some bishops deny that the church has concealed
abuse. "There was no cover-up going on," asserted Bishop David Zubik of
Pittsburgh. "We have over the course of the last 30 years been
transparent about everything that has in fact been transpiring."
On the contrary, the Grand Jury asserted church officials followed a
"playbook for concealing the truth" that involved minimizing the abuse
by using such words as "inappropriate contact" instead of "rape."
Attorney General Josh Shapiro said in a press conference, "They
protected their institution at all costs. As the Grand Jury found, the
church showed a complete disdain for victims."
Every state needs to appoint a Grand Jury that will invest the months
needed to document what has happened in each diocese. Certainly one
needed reform is to remove statutes of limitations, so guilty priests
may be prosecuted decades later.
Finally, the church should make celibacy optional, so that married men
could serve as priests. You have not heard of any Protestant
denomination plagued by clergy molesting children.
Copyright (c) 2018 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and
a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to
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