Clergy abuse goes viral again! The eyes of the world are on the investigation by the Pennsylvania grand jury of the horrific coverup by Catholic priests and bishops of the rape and sexual abuse of children. This is not new to the Catholic church nor is it new to the religious community at large. Rape and sexual abuse of children by church leaders is a cultural practice that has happened for not decades, but for centuries within the religious community.
Do you remember last week’s YouTube videos that went viral? What about yesterday’s video? Clergy abuse goes viral is the latest, but will the interest fade just as quickly? How many remember the Boston Globe investigation in 2002 of the Archdiocese of Boston (click here). There is a sex crime news story at least once a week. Some of these news stories are shocking to society, but not to survivors. It’s not new news to sex crime victims. Sex crime victims didn’t just start speaking up over the past few years. The truth is people are finally listening. Or are you?
How many horrible sex crime attacks must be made public before society does something? Listening is one thing but what are you going to do to change the mindset of society? What happens when the initial shock is gone? What happens when the new news is no longer news? The current news about the Pennsylvania diocese clergy abuse is just a pebble in the sand. It’s no shock to those who are survivors and those advocating in the sex crime community. How do you change something that is so deeply embedded, interwoven in the history of our nation?
It’s customary for victims to be revictimized over again, by the abuser and by the church. Survivors have spoken up for years just to be shut down, ignored, shamed, discredited and experience retaliation. All this is done to save the reputation, the credibility of the church and the predator. These tools are used to keep victims silent. Most times the church is successful. No thought is given to the emotional damage done to the victims. Some victims were permanently silenced when they committed suicide. Emotional, mental, physical and spiritual damage can be traumatic. The survivor has a new normal now, not by choice. Most question God and question their faith to the point of leaving the religious community. I have sat in support groups with survivors of clergy abuse both men and women. Though it’s decades after the abuse, the pain on their faces is still so real.
For someone who somewhat understands the depth and destruction of sex crimes, every news story is like finding a rotten apple on a tree. The problem is that there are so many rotten apples on that tree that there is an infestation at the root. There is an infestation in the religious community. This is not just a Catholic church issue. Sex abuse in the church covers all religions and denominations. Some church leaders, if not accused of the abuse themselves are involved with coverups. What are our esteemed religious leaders doing to cover their atrocities before being exposed?
I find the silence of the church leaders during this time interesting and some of the comments by bishops as shallow, empty rhetoric as if taken from a script. There is a saying, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” Good priests, good bishops, good pastors, good religious leaders what are you doing? What are you saying? Man of God, where are you standing? What’s next?