06 Never Again: The Legacy of Clerical Sex Abuse - Austin Ivereigh & Kathryn Lopez

posted Feb 14, 2019, 10:23 AM by Neil D'Souza   [ updated Feb 14, 2019, 10:23 AM ]
The sexual abuse of minors by priests in the 1970s-80s, the silence of Church authorities at the time, and the fallout since — in terms of disparaging media coverage and endless lawsuits — add up to one of the greatest crises in Church history, a scandal that never seems to be over. Not only are there thousands of survivors of abuse who have been left shattered, but ordinary Catholics, including the clergy, who are left shaking their heads at the avalanche of clerical scandals that have swept away the moral ground from under the feet of the Catholic Church.

Media focus has been intense, incessant and unforgiving. Many Catholics feel that the Church has been singled out in ways that amount to a kind of persecution, and they point to the distortions and myths that the coverage has created. On the other hand, the relentless focus is understandable. Given the Western media's overzealous sympathy for victims and the desire to hold institutions accountable, clerical sex abuse was never going to be given an easy ride. It is an unconscious tribute to the Church that it would be held to a higher standard. The media's coverage of the clergy sex abuse crisis can be seen, then, as an example of Christian values unconsciously retained by Western Journalism, and being used to judge the Church, which on this issue seems to have forgotten them.

Yet, the coverage has left the world with a distorted picture—that the Catholic priesthood shelters high numbers of abusers, or that the Church is somehow behind the curve of the rest of society on the issue—neither of which is true. The story of the Church's ongoing conversion and transformation, and its remarkable achievements in dealing with this issue have gone largely unreported.