As cradle Catholics, my wife and I are tempted to leave the Catholic Church because of its grossly inadequate response to clerical sexual abuse of minors, which is both a civil crime and a sin. The Church condemns that abuse but protects the abusers by failing to take effective action against them. We have not left the Church because of our deep-seated beliefs in the Catholic faith, but we are struggling and looking for guidance on this issue.
Many Catholics around the world share your anger and shame over the actions of these abusers of minors and vulnerable adults. By the time you read this issue, Pope Francis will have recently finished a three-day meeting with the heads of bishops’ conferences around the world. The US bishops’ conference was asked by the Holy See to postpone its proposed actions at their meeting last November so that a more coordinated worldwide plan of action could come from this February 2019 meeting.
My October 2018 editorial in these pages, an open letter to Pope Francis, chronicled how St. Anthony Messenger has responded to this abuse since February 1994 and offered three suggestions for actions he can take now to address this disgraceful abuse.
“The gates of hell” will not prevail over the Church (Mt 16:18), but Jesus certainly expects its leaders to lead as genuine shepherds, looking after all its members and not mistakenly trying to protect the Church’s reputation at all costs.