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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Carletonian

The Catholic Church has forfeited its role as a moral compass

<ew up in a regularly practicing Catholic household, and I have identified as a Catholic until a few years ago. I currently identify as an atheist. Catholicism has nonetheless profoundly influenced my character, my values, and my moral compass, and for that reason, I respect Catholicism as a moral authority. The Church, however, fails to follow the most basic moral teachings of their religion. The Church committed a moral crime, covering up allegations of sexual abuse against priests and choosing to protect the priests. Though the Church has publically spoken out against this behavior in their priests, they continually fail to put into place preventive measures or reporting requirements. The more I learn about the Church’s cowardly behavior to cover up allegations of sexual misconduct, the more I see it as a harmful organization.

The Church’s crime is that, upon receiving reports that some priests were sexually abusing children, they tried to bury these stories. Instead of passing the allegations along to law enforcement, or even taking any positive action at all, they often decided to relocate the offending priest to a different parish, where the abuse almost always continued. This kind of action does not reduce the amount of sexual misconduct from their priests, it reduces the likelihood that the priest will be caught. They are not trying to protect helpless child victims; they are trying to protect themselves. Furthermore, the Church is aware of the evil of their action, as Popes John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis have all denounced sexual abuse and acknowledged the many crimes of their priests.

The Church’s crime allows and fosters sexual abuse. Not only did they know about these allegations and fail to report them, but they also defected on their responsibility to hold the priests accountable. Since the Church hired the priest and assigned them to a particular parish in a particular community, they are responsible for placing a person in a community position of respect and trust in that community; therefore, they are responsible for that person’s use and misuse of that position of respect and trust. When that person is accused of sexual misconduct, the Church therefore has an obligation to report it and take action against them. Instead, the Church chose to cover it up, not only allowing the crimes to repeat but actively participating in all the repeat crimes thereafter.

The moral teachings of the Catholic Church mean that knowing about a crime as wrong as sexual abuse of a child should compel you to report it. In failing to report it, the Church crippled their position in the world of moral authority and showed just how hypocritical it can be. I now find it very hard to respect the moral authority of the Church in the same way that I used to. While I have always, and still do, think that the New Testament, like many other religious texts, offers many valuable moral teachings, I have lost respect for the Church and its officials.

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