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Christians and allegations of sexual misconduct, part two: the Catholic Church

Catholicism is the largest Christian denomination in the world, reporting 1.285 billion members in 2014. In the same year, a study showed that 20.8 percent of Americans identify as Catholic —  this makes Catholicism the single-largest denomination in America as well.

Without a doubt, Catholicism has become a prominent presence in America and worldwide. Despite the Catholic emphasis on sanctification, this denomination has fallen prey to the disaster of sexual misconduct within the church. Devastatingly, the history of sexual abuse between Catholic priests and young boys has become common knowledge.

Recently, the problem of sexual abuse within the Catholic church has resurfaced in the media. On March 14, the Roman Catholic Church in Poland released a study concerning the abuse reports church officials received. This study was commissioned by the Episcopal Conference of Poland and covered the time period between 1990 and mid-2018.

The study found that, during the aforementioned time period, church officials received reports concerning 382 priests and involving 625 children. Obviously, the history of sexual abuse — and the continued struggle to address it properly — is a heartbreaking issue for many Catholics. Unfortunately, some Catholic leaders have made light of the problem. They have stated that the problem is not prevalent within the church and is the result of a defamatory campaign.

Victims have continued speaking out and demanding change. With the rise of the Me Too movement, many victims have been empowered to speak out about not only the abuse they received but also the way in which the Church addressed it. Victims are demanding concrete steps to prevent future abuse.

In late Feb., the Pope responded to the outrage caused by the study when he called a meeting for Catholic leaders. The leaders assembled and watched some of the testimonies of victims. They also engaged in a discussion that was guided by 21 reflection points provided by the Pope. During this meeting, it was decided that priests and bishops found guilty of abuse should be dismissed from public ministry. To the dismay of victims, it was also decided that guilty priests and bishops would not be automatically dismissed from the clerical state.

 

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