On Jan. 21, a series of memos and letters filed in a civil case found Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony and a host of other church officials conspired to shield known pedophile priests from police.
As many are aware, the crackdown on the Roman Catholic Church involvement with numerous (if untold) cases of priests sexually abusing children and engaging in pedophilia has been explosive. The church’s reputation has been undermined, the honor of priesthood tarnished and trust in what was long considered a sacrosanct institution has been all but ripped away.
The New York Times claimed the court costs alone have put a dent in the holy pocketbook to the tune of an estimated $2 billion.
Obviously, this scandal—to put it lightly—is troubling. We have the supposed vanguard of moral authority being prosecuted as the perpetrators of truly wicked acts.
However, this most recent revelation involving a cardinal and the apparent coordinated attempts to shield priests, brings into sharper focus the church’s response to the sexual abuse charges.
According to The New York Times, while the Roman Catholic authority, the Vatican, has made significant changes to disciplinary procedures, it has nonetheless defensively characterized the controversy as an attack on the church.
Any outsider can easily see this is not a case of an ad hominem attack on the church. It is an attack on egregious abuse of children. It is an attack on individuals taking advantage of trust given to them because of their title.
Moreover, as time moves forward and these criminal proceedings progress, it’s becoming more obvious that the church prioritizes protecting itself over protecting children.
On Jan. 23 the Los Angeles Times reported, “Church officials in Boston, Philadelphia and elsewhere behaved similarly for decades, often shuffling priests from parish to parish to conceal abuse and thwart investigations, allowing those pedophiles to prey on new victims.”
It’s heinous in itself that priests are committing these acts. It’s even more disturbing that the latest revelation only demonstrates there is a systematic attempt to cover up this trail of sin.
My goal here is not to point out the obvious or fuel stigmas against Roman Catholic priests, but that because the church and its religious authority are afforded such vast trust, it has escaped being held accountable.
The Economist of Aug. 18, 2012 said more that 70 million Americans identify themselves as Roman Catholic. These Catholic citizens need to hold the church, their direct authority, responsible for the crimes committed. Otherwise, the rest of us have every right to question the moral authority of this church as a whole.