3 Ways to Respond to the Sexual Abuse Scandal in the Catholic Church

Posted by : Blyton Pinto | Church

The sexual abuse of anyone, more so innocent children is deplorable, sick and unacceptable. How does a Catholic respond to attacks on the Church following the latest reports of abuse and its systematic cover-up?

The first cases of this crime came to light in the 1980s. In the 1990s the media increased publicity and consequently, awareness of this issue grew from a trickle to a stream. By the 2000s the issue was a torrent and now, in this decade, it’s a tsunami. If you follow current events, you just cannot escape this news. It’s talked about in schools, Churches, offices, family conversations, and has triggered public protests, started off numerous investigations across the world and finally, splashed on the front page of newspapers, magazines and TV prime time.

As a practicing Catholic, I cannot escape the aftermath since I live in the same society. So what do I do? There are many options – abandon the Church or defend it, join the attackers, bring healing to the affected, bring controls within the Church etc. In this article, I focus on 3 practical things we can do as practising Catholics.

Accept that Church figures have committed this grave crime and sin

Yes, there’s no 2 ways about it. By burying our head in the sand we cannot expect to ride over the storm. First of all, within our hearts, let us accept that Church authorities have faulted. Secondly, if this topic is ever brought up in any social setting, don’t deny or defend these specific acts. Remember that real people have been scarred for life. Hence, it should be real for us as much as it is for them.

Saint Augustine of Hippo
“Sins against nature, therefore, like the sin of Sodom, are abominable and deserve punishment whenever and wherever they are committed”

Clearly distinguish between the Faith and the actions of its custodians

This is difficult to do and secular society or popular culture will not accept this separation because of the saying – Practice what you preach. How can I attend Mass or confess or even go to Church when I am harboring thoughts that the priest on the pulpit could be an abuser? Yet we are called to distinguish. As Jesus did. He told Peter, “Get behind me Satan, you are an obstacle in my path” and a few verses earlier, Jesus told the same, Peter. “You are a blessed man”. Was Jesus confused or did He get it wrong? No. He was able to separate the sin from the Rock (Peter). As followers of Christ, we are called to do the same. Condemn the actions of the clergy while accepting the Catholic Faith.

Read this wonderful article to find out if a priest is in the state of mortal sin, is his Mass and/or consecration of the Eucharist viable?

Allow the law of the land and the law of God to take their course

Every nation has its justice system and the law must be allowed to take its own course against those who have broken it.

Romans 13:1
“Everyone is to obey the governing authorities”

In the same manner, God is just and judges people. In fact, He judges His priests more severely.

James 3:1
“Only a few of you should be teachers, bearing in mind that we shall receive a stricter judgement”
Romans 12:19
“Never try to get revenge; leave that to the Retribution”

In conclusion, I am proud of my Catholic Faith and the Church’s teachings but am ashamed of the clergy who committed the abuse. Since I believe in Divine Providence, I have no doubt that the guilty are carrying the burden of their acts – in their hearts, minds, bodies, and souls.

In my next article, I wish to write about what we can do for those who have been abused.

What are your feelings about this scandal? What are the 2 things that you want to do?

I hope this article has stirred you. If you know of someone else who may be stirred too, I’d appreciate if you share.