Opinion by Lily Blake
The Catholic church and its history with sexual abuse has been on the headlines of every national newspaper since 2002, when the spotlight team at the Boston Globe exposed years and years of covered up sexual abuse scandals in the Boston area. is is not a problem that has come and gone, or even one that has remained in the 90 squared miles that hold Boston, but one that could happen every day, in churches of any denomination, all over the world.
Within the past month, a multitude of stories in the PA Grand Jury Report have been released on new allegations of Catholic priests and clergy members sexually abusing minors and Bishops covering it up internally, and I, frankly, am getting fed up. e Catholic church has done so much good throughout history from providing material goods for those in need, to educating people in third world countries, and overall, providing a community where people can comfortably and traditionally build a relationship with God. As a Catholic young woman, it sickens me that this issue continuously is being exposed and leaves me questioning, why is an organization that has done so much good for so many years, unable to end this deplorable behavior?
Doug Pederson, Nebraska State Attorney General, requested on Sept. 6 that all three dioceses in Nebraska submit all of priests who have been accused of sex- ual assault in the past 40 years. It is easy for us, as a culture, to neglect to acknowledge what is happening around us when we don’t see it with our own two eyes. Omaha is not immune to this widespread issue. We, in fact, have had priests red and moved around because of accusations of sexual abuse allegations just within the past month.
To sort out some of my questions on the matter and to help me understand the situation from someone on the inside, I reached out to Deacon Timothy McNeil, Chancellor of the Omaha Archdiocese. When I asked him why he thinks this problem even started in the rst place he responded, that around 40-50 years ago there was a large group of men who were wanting to enter the seminary that were brought up in the sexual revolution era. He claims that, that and a poor applicant screening process plays a large part in the history of the church’s problem with sexual abuse.
Now this was a hard pill for me to swallow. How could the church continue to have this ghastly problem after just a few years of bad recruits? Men growing up in a so called “sexual revolution” is no excuse for them to be molesting children and the church should not be content with amounting this problem to that. is also does not explain the continued internal cover-up of these situations. Although a very small fragment of priests did do the alleged abusing, those who helped cover it up are just as much at fault. e people in power–Bishops–were more worried about scandal to the church and the reputation of the abuser, than they were about the physical, emotional, mental and emotional needs of the victims.
is is about the abuse of power. Priests are trusted with something deep, personal, and worth more than money can buy: a person’s faith. A person’s faith and spirit are all that they are, and many trust the church wholeheartedly with that spirit. e second the church abuses the power they hold on the hearts of their followers, is the second people start losing their faith. e most heinous of these burglaries on the spirit are that of children, who con de in their priest to answer their looming questions on life’s big questions.
No matter how much this continued issue sickens me, I did nd comfort when Deacon McNeil, mentioned the steps being taken in our diocese to hopefully eradicate this problem. He informed me that every man hopeful to be admitted into the seminary must pass a full psychological evaluation and go through an intense and extensive training on ministry around children. The Dallas Charter, a comprehensive set of procedures established by the Catholic Church in 2002 to protect children has made a signi cant impact on the expectations and training of any and everyone involved with the church who is dealing with children. is Charter shows the Catholic church’s commitment to the future protection of children.
While personally, I don’t think a few information sessions preaching that “touching children is inappropriate” is going to deter those who had plans to, I find solace in the idea that the church sees its wrongs and is actively trying to fix them. Pope Francis’s formal apology on Aug 20 was a step in the right direction, but a continued pursuit of change internally is essential for this problem to dissipate. Evil people are everywhere, in every organization: that is no surprise, but the church is a place that hits the heart for so many people which makes the situation even more lethal. Spiritually and emotionally lethal which leaves a lasting brand on the soul. Even Deacon McNeil explained that incidents this sickening can really make you lose touch with your faith. He asked me to remind readers that, “We are not alone, Jesus hasn’t gone anywhere. He is with us, and he is purifying the church every step of the way.”