(An Op-Ed) On the Catholic Church Sex Abuse Cases
For those who have not yet heard of the recent U.S. grand jury report on sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania, here’s the shortest rundown:
70 year period, beginning in the 1950s. Pennsylvania. 6 out of 8 dioceses. 54 out of 67 counties. More than 300 priests credibly accused. More than 1,000 child sex abuse victims. Sadistic, systematic rape. A cover-up. Cover-ups of the cover-up. Cover-ups of those cover-ups. (Courthouse News 2018)
If this information is not shocking enough, as the connection between sexual abuse and the Catholic Church is nothing new: one girl was raped by a priest in a hospital after she had her tonsils removed; several middle-schoolers were groomed for sex and told by a priest that Mary had licked Jesus clean and bit the umbilical cord after the Nativity; an altar boy was beaten with a metal cross and sexually abused by a priest, and this priest later went on to work at Disney World with the Church’s recommendation; one priest confessed to the Church that he sexually molested a young boy and was allowed to stay in the ministry for several years.
When more than 300 priests are credibly accused of systematically abusing more than 1,000 children, and only in the state of Pennsylvania, how can anyone believe that the leaders of the dioceses never helped facilitate a pedophilic ring this colossal? One could also ask: “who is to say that the dioceses’ leaders were not also participating?”
Well, they were. If they were not committing the sexual abuse themselves, they were either convincing law enforcement and victims to stay silent, or they were aware of what was happening around them. Even with only a little bit of involvement, it was allowed to continue. This may seem like a generalization, but when something so evil happens at such a large and violent scale, how could they not know?
Despite all of this information uncovered in the investigations, the statute of limitations ultimately changes, or ends, the game. The statute currently allows child sex abuse victims to file civil lawsuits until they are 30 years old.
The cover-ups were done so well and lasted so long that almost every single incident reported occurred too long ago to be prosecuted.
Philadelphia is not alone in this, either. It is the entire U.S., Ireland, Chile, Australia, Italy, Jamaica, Germany, Philippines, Kenya, and Poland. As the grand jury report states, “It happened everywhere.”
The statute of limitations has become a “get out of jail free card” (TIME). The long-standing culture of denial, secrecy, and absolute obedience to the Vatican is more obvious now than ever. The victims, most of whom are now older than 50, have never been recognized until now, and thousands have yet to come forward and probably never will.
But that tax exemption must be nice.