American Catholics had what George Weigel famously called the “Long Lent” of 2002, when we were shocked by one after another revelation that perverted sexual predators were infesting the priesthood, and that a jarring number our bishops were too cowardly or incompetent to stop them. Now Europe is going through similar crises, and it looks like it’s going to get pretty bad over there, as people are left reeling from the betrayals. This also means that the sex abuse scandal is in the news over here again, and it’s lead to three people (a Catholic, a Pentecostal, and an agnostic) asking me yesterday what the heck was going on.
I’m going to try and take a serious look at it, but this means it won’t fit neatly into a single blog post. Also, the sex abuse scandal should be divided into two distinct parts: the abuse of children, and the cover-up by Church officials. Phil Lawler’s The Faithful Departed, the most helpful book to read on the subject, divides it in this way, and that seems appropriate.
Here’s the outline I’m working off of for future posts. As I complete the posts, I’ll add a hyperlink, turning this from an outline into a Table of Contents, of sorts. I’ve tried to address, head on, the major questions which people seem to have about the scandal.
I. THE ABUSE OF CHILDREN
A profile of the abuse.
Why did the abuse happen?
What about the role of celibacy in all this?
What role did homosexuality play?
How bad was it?
What can be done?
II. THE EPISCOPAL COVER-UP
A profile of the cover-up.
Why did the cover-up happen?
What role does the Church’s self-identity play in all of this?
What was the pope’s role?
What can be done?
III. MOVING FORWARD
Being Catholic in the face of evil.
“But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” – Jesus, Matthew 18:6.