The interior of a Catholic cathedral where abuse may happen
The Boston Globe won the Pulitzer Prize for their groundbreaking 2002 report of Catholic clergy abuse and the cover-up that followed.

Cardinal George Pell’s recent appeal of his December conviction for sexual abuse of two minors in an Australian cathedral has reignited outrage and discussions over the Catholic sexual abuse crisis; Discussions which have gone on seemingly endlessly since the Boston Globe’s explosive report on abuse in the Catholic Church and the coverup that followed. We’ve had ULC ministers writing in to share their thoughts on the abuse crisis. Below are two guest sermons from our ministers with different perspectives on the issue.

Nobody Trusts the Catholic Church, and for Good Reason

-a guest sermon submitted by Heather Washington

The bad news about the Catholic Church just keeps coming. There’s the blockbuster story involving decades of sexual abuse uncovered by a Pennsylvania grand jury; former archbishop of Washington, D.C, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was forced to resign; and the Illinois attorney general’s office who recently accused that state’s Catholic diocese of failing to report at least 500 priests and clergy members accused of sexual misconduct.

Shall I continue?

The Catholic Church meticulously covered up thousands of abuse cases over the last half-century. Pope Francis recently pledged ‘zero tolerance’ for abuse– then the church turned around and spent $10 million dollars lobbying against laws that would help abuse victims get justice. The only thing Catholics have zero tolerance for is holding themselves accountable.

How can anyone trust the Catholic Church? They shuffle abusers around from diocese to diocese in an effort to obscure the truth. They fight against legislation that will make them answer for their crimes. And they drag their feet on meaningful reforms.

Pope Francis and the Catholic Church can give all the lip service they’d like. But when it comes time to make restitution, hold abusers responsible, or institute actual change, they always come up woefully short. If you attend Mass, if you tithe, if you still support this organization- you are complicit.

Do Abuse Allegations Undo Centuries of Good Deeds?

-a guest sermon submitted by Frank Ramsey

I won’t mince words here. Abuse of children is abhorrent, and those who have been credibly convicted should be, in my opinion, locked away forever. But Catholic priests abuse children at a lower rate than other professions that often work with children, including teachers. The abuse allegations, while disgusting, are sensationalized by a media that loves to hate Catholics.

And in all the overblown media coverage of a few abuse cases carried out by a statistically small percentage of Catholic clergy, aren’t we forgetting all of the good deeds Catholics have brought into the world? Keyboard warriors wouldn’t have an internet to complain on if not for the Catholic Church and their centuries-long patronage of science and engineering. Nicolaus Copernicus was Catholic. Gregor Mendel. Lamarck. Jean-Baptiste Dumas. And in the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church founded Europe’s first universities. The Catholic Church has contributed to the sciences perhaps more than any other organization in history.

The Catholic Church is also the most charitable non-governmental organization on the planet. They spend billions annually on hospitals, universities, and museums. Every day, the Catholic Church serves millions if not billions of poor and needy. The Catholic Church has, undoubtedly, been one of the greatest forces for good this world has ever seen

24/7 news cycles and online echo chambers have blown the so-called abuse crisis out of proportion. Again, Catholic clergy abuse at a lower rate than the average American male. That is not to diminish the heinous crimes of the 4% of priests that have been credibly accused of abuse. Those crimes are evil. But they are not committing abuses at higher rates than anyone else.

Let’s not lose the forest for the trees here. We shouldn’t judge the Catholic Church for the moral failures of a handful of men. Let’s judge based on the countless good deeds done by the church instead.

14 comments

  1. Michael Mangokd says:

    I agree with some if this, especially the CURRENT philanthropy of the RC church. Let’s not forget that the “forest” has had thousands, if not millions, of diseased trees throughout the ages. These include popes who held Satanic rituals in St. Peter’s, intolerance of opposing views, easily called “heresies” so the heretics could be legally killed, and of course, the Inquisition.
    The point is well-taken that it has been a small percent if priests, but the bigger issues are the accountability, apathy, cover ups, and interference in secular laws.

  2. Dr. Michael Glick says:

    This somehow reminds me of the Muslims. I have heard the same cry. Do not judge the religion because of the tiny group of fanatics that have acted in the name of Mohammed. Not so. This is not a tiny group. Nor is the Catholic clergy (or at least some of the men AND women who make up the clergy) the entire problem. Those who go to mass or support the church in ANY way are complicit. Please stop and reflect how man twists and turns the Catholic church had to go through for it to travel from the message of LOVE preached by their founder to the Inquisition. And likewise: how many twists and turns the Muslim faith had to go through to reach a point where they can wage total war on “infidels” (read anyone who does not worship as they do). Enough.

    1. JasLor says:

      You’re getting there, at least at the end. Go ahead and trash Catholic clergy, hierarchy, followers, etc. – you won’t find me defending any of it, or them. Meanwhile, most of these questions and comments are ignoring the elephant in the room (as ULC incessantly does, the cowards).

      So … what is a “tiny group of [Muslim] fanatics”? Be specific, please. How many? And what, or who, is this “group”? Actually, it’s groups … plural (see below).

      Sunni and Shia (incl. various offshoots and factions) are mortal enemies. Kind of like Baptists and Methodists.Um … NOT!!!

      Sorry, I digress …

      How many followers of Islam would call for my death (beheading I suppose, stoning to death works in a pinch I suppose) for, say, publishing a Muslim equivalent of “Piss Christ” (remember that?), call it “Piss “?

      One? No. Tens? Hardly. Hundreds? Please. Thousands? Uh-uh. Hundreds of thousands? Well, maybe … maybe!! … getting close. Or, estimating it as a percentage –> considering (round numbers) there are one billion Muslims, 100,000 is one-hundredth of one percent (.0001!!) who’d rather slit my throat than draw another breadth. Even on-thousandth of one percent gets you 10,000. And I think my estimate may be conservative.

      The number of deaths attributed to protests against “Piss Christ” = 0. Number of deaths attributed to protests against anti-Islam/anti-Mohammed short film “Innocence of Muslims“ = 50 (see Wikipedia, not necessarily authoritative, but certainly left-of-center).

      And the examples and extremist groups go on and on: 9/11(lest we forget? we already have, long ago), Salman Rushdie, Charlie Hebdo massacre, ISIS, IRAN (might qualify as at the top of the list), Saudia Arabia/ Wahhabism, the Taliban (“one U.S. defense official said the current Taliban strength is at least 60,000. Another senior U.S. official said 60,000 “passes the sniff test,” while a third official said 60,000 is “a place to start … An Afghan official told NBC News earlier this month that the Afghan estimate of Taliban strength is also 60,000” – NBC News Jan 30, 2018), Boko Haram, Muslim Brotherhood, Rohingya Muslims, Hezbollah, al-Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, Indonesian Mujahedeen Council, Houthi rebels in Yemen … are but only a few. And to be fair –> the biggest killers of Muslims on the planet are? … you got it, other Muslims.)

      The existential threat to the continued existence of humanity in the second decade of the 21st century is NOT pedophile priests, nor the megalomaniac cowboy in the Kremlin, nor the god-in-making in Communist China (move over Mao!), nor the man-child in N. Korea (horrific as he is), nor the despot in Venezuela (despots are with us always like bad weather, sad as that is for our species), nor Donald Trump (as much as I hate him, along with every other politician), nor global warming (oh, sorry, “climate change”) – it is the real, and NOT insignificant (in sheer numbers) threat of radical Islamic terrorism.

      I’m sorry, someone wanted to say something about pedophilia?

      I leave with a favorite movie quote of mine (Gotta love Hollywood. Well, sometimes …), “As a species we’re fundamentally insane. Put more than two of us in a room, we pick sides and start dreaming up reasons to kill one another. Why do you think we invented politics and religion?” (Sorry, you’ll have to Google the movie and quote for yourselves :))

      I’ll go now …

  3. tom b says:

    Respectfully…think about how you would view this article if “Mafia” was substituted for “Catholic Church”, and a multiplicity of crimes substituted for sexual abuse…think about it…Peace…Tom B

  4. tom b says:

    Joseph…it is uncomfortable to post 2 comments on 2 different subjects in 5 minutes, and have both “awaiting moderation”…Peace…Tom B

  5. Kirk says:

    Catholics can’t stand child abusers just like everyone else. I noticed the first sermon was written by someone who must get her “facts” from CNN only. If you do a little research, as she clearly did not, you would see that most of the accused priests are either long dead, or long removed from the ministry. The RCC has been working with police for decades now to remove bad priests. When a priest is accused, that individual is placed on a form of administrative leave while internal and external investigations are conducted. Like anybody else accused of a crime, the priest goes through the court system. Like the second sermon mentions this type of abuse happens at a lower rate in the RCC than in other places like public schools. In public schools children of both sexes and of all ages are abused. Even the current Pope says the the abuse cases in the RCC are primarily rooted in homosexuality as 90 some percent of the abused children are male and in a specific age range. This explains the lower rate of occurrence in the RCC compared to public schools. If the first sermon was remotely accurate, then during my years as a student in Catholic schools, I should at very least have heard of, if not known someone who had been abused by one of the priests in that diocese. I did not. I pray for people like the author of the first sermon. I pray she stops hating specially if she wants to be considered as a credible minister. Personally, I think she’s just angry the RCC won’t let her be a priest and is looking for scraps to hate on them for.

  6. ET says:

    All sides of this issue make valid points. I believe most can agree it’s morally, socially and legally wrong to molest children regardless of whose doing it. Perhaps if we concentrate on the crimes and the individual perpetrators it can be reduced if not eliminated. Covering up for one who commits the crime is also a crime to be prosecuted individually. Be well.

  7. Lionheart says:

    Welcome to the absurdity of religion. What will it take for people to wake up from their stupid indoctrination?

    🦁❤️

  8. Jeff McClain says:

    If the Church wants to be counted for its good deeds then it should not try to hide the bad deeds and cover them up!!! We all know that men are weak and sinners. But hiding the sins and covering them up are why the Catholic Church is under scrutiny. Police yourselves better and gain the trust of men back.

    1. Lionheart says:

      “We all know men are weak and sinners”

      No we don’t Jeff. Only those who have been indoctrinated to believe that rubbish.

      🦁❤️

  9. Hank Stanco says:

    The problem the church faces is s an issue which the church doesn’t want to talk about. To question the actual problem lies with a very important dogma to the church. The church can talk about investigations, reports and rules all it wants but until the real problem is faced, nothing will change. The problem the church faces lies with the confessional.

    Just like the laity, priests are required to have a spiritual advisor and in most cases, acts as the confessor.

    Most are aware that breaking the silence of the confessional is sacrosanct and can result in the laicization of the offending priests. Priests have been known to go to prison rather than break the silence of the confessional. This loophole in church dogma allows these monsters to use our own dogma against us.

    Imagine a priest confessing to a bishop that he is a child molester and enjoys the relations with young boys such as the altar boys that serve with him. What is the bishop to do? Should he remain silent? Should he go to the authorities? He can’t if he wishes to keep the sacred duties of his vows.

    This is exactly what occurred with Fr John Geoghan and Cardinal Bernard Law of the Archdiocese of Boston more than forty years ago.

    Not wanting to break his vis, Cardinal Law transferred Geoghan to other parishes and eventually other diocese and likewise, not wanting to break his vows, failed to inform incoming bishops of the problem with Geoghan.

    It was the 70’s and child abuse was just beginning come to the forefront. This was a time that parents still told their sons to keep quiet about the mole station because the priest was a holy man.

    Do we know for sure this occurred? No. Never will. But we Catholics know the system and it’s weaknesses. The issue with Geoghan and Law spread like wildfire. We knew it long before the Boston Globe wrote anything. In fact, we knew it before the writers were even born.

    Today, everyone of importance still refuses to talk of the real problem because it would effect a major Canon Law.

    For those of you who would question my comment here as a defense of the church (Lion), please feel free to google my name.

    It took 36 years but I helped incarcerate my own brother. He finally got caught but not until he had 200 victims. And at great expense. I was disowned when I putted my brother in1975. My mother went to her grave and no one told me. My sister died of cancer and I only learned of her impending death too late to see her. Another brother died and my wife and I drove 1500 miles only to be stopped at the church front door.

    It takes much strength and fortitude to make such accusations public and I would imagine it being that much harder for a priest to consider breaking his vow.

    The church needs to take a serious look at the real problem before any real change can be made.

  10. kimberly says:

    Homosexuality and pedophilia is a symptom of this false religion. Even a secular organization of such size would give back in the same manner. That doesn’t negate the fundamental evil. And, it isn’t just a “few” unsavory individuals. It is extant throughout the organization and has been well documented for hundreds of years.

  11. Frank Villari says:

    So, we have two views, both of which hold some truth. Heather would argue that Catholics, as a whole are complicit simply by being Catholic. Frank would argue that, although abhorrent, good deeds excuse the bad. Both see the evil and both go too far in opposite directions with their arguments. Frank can’t excuse the acts of some any more than Heather can condemn everyone for the actions of others. The guilt of the Catholic Church in not taking swift and appropriate action against the monsters in their midst is clear. All parishioners should be outraged. I’m not a big fan of organized religion. I feel all organized religions are guilty of sin. “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’ They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good. The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is none who does good, not even one.” — Psalm 14:1-3

    1. Michael Mangold says:

      Well said. Very balanced summary and commentary.

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