Corruption in the Catholic Church
Updated: Oct 23
Throughout the past few years, the Catholic Church has been exposed for covering up hundreds and hundreds of sexual assaults. Horror stories about such respected organizations have been visible to the public eye through media such as the TV show “The Keepers” which is about the Baltimore Archdiocese and the movie “Spotlight” which focuses on the Boston area.
Cases against the Catholic Church are continuously coming out. In August 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court released a grand jury report naming over 300 accused individuals and describing sex abuse in the Catholic Church. Through this breakthrough investigation, more than 1,000 children had come out about being abused by members of six dioceses in the state of Pennsylvania within the last 70 years. Even more are afraid to come forward and tell their story. Beginning in 2016, the Pennsylvania grand jury interviewed dozens of witnesses and examined hundreds of thousands of pages of internal documents from every diocese in the state except Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, which had already been investigated. Many victims said they were drugged or manipulated in some other way. Some even recollected being physically abused by their family members who did not believe their stories.
After hearing about the investigation in Pennsylvania, Florida’s attorney general, Pam Bondi, felt the need to take action in her own state. “We have reason to believe there are similar stories in Florida,” said Bondi during a press conference. In October 2018, Bondi said she was going forward with an investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Bondi said she was going to team up with local prosecutors and review records from all seven of Florida’s Catholic dioceses. All seven of the bishops in Florida were said to be cooperative with these investigations. Bondi also set up a tip website where individuals can report allegations of past or present sexual abuse by Catholic priests in the state of Florida. The tip website asks for the names of the abuser, the organization, the location, date, and other necessary facts. According to Bondi, more than 15 victims have already come forward during this investigation and the numbers could possibly multiply. “Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the church and a threat to society,” says Bondi.
This isn’t just happening in American Catholic Churches. In May 2018, 34 Roman Catholic bishops in Chile offered to resign in the wake of a child sex scandal and cover-up. In June 2018, a former Vatican diplomat was sentenced to five years in prison for child pornography offenses. In July 2018, an Australian Archbishop, Philip Wilson, resigned after being convicted of concealing child sex abuse carried out by another priest.
Now, you might ask yourself, has the Catholic Church even responded? When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, he talked about taking action against these assaults, but plenty of individuals say he has not done enough to hold these bishops accountable. In August 2018, Pope Francis wrote to all Roman Catholics condemning the abuse and demanding to end the cover ups. “With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives,” Says Francis. “We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.” Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict, has been accused of failing to protect children and not going forward with investigations.
The Catholic Church tends to be silent when these allegations are heard by the public. Along with Florida and Pennsylvania, thirteen other states are now investigating alleged sexual abuse connected to the Catholic Church. The more the Catholic Church comes into the limelight, the more they will have to address this situation.