When Priests Cross the Line

When Priests Cross the Line - DCF

In 2001, the Boston Globe launched an in-depth investigation into committed by members of the Catholic Church. The Boston Globe created two hotlines for victims and people with information to call. The Boston Globe was flooded with calls. They heard countless stories of sexual abuse committed by church officials, and their story on this blew the scandal wide open. The most noteworthy case involved Cardinal Bernard Law. Church documents showed that he knew about dozens of priests who committed sexual abuse, including one who sexually abused 130 children. He resigned in 2002 because of the sexual abuse scandal and moved to Italy to live out the rest of his days. He moved to Italy because the Vatican has its own separate and distinct laws from the rest of the country, and he was able to avoid going to prison because of this. In 2015, there was a movie made about the Globe’s investigation called “Spotlight Investigation: Abuse in the Catholic Church”, which was directed by Tom McCarthy. It starred Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, and Racheal McAdams, to name a few. Spotlight won two Academy Awards, including one for Best Picture. Despite the long history of abuse by the clergy, the Massachusetts legislature allowed priests to become Mandated Reporters. This could open the door for coaches and other controversial community members to become Mandated Reporters as well. However, the scandals priests have been involved in show that maybe more scrutiny should be put on Mandated Reporters and the screening process by DCF.

Priests are a type of Mandated Reporter who are involved in various scandals. While priests have come under fire for multiple child sexual abuse scandals, a story by Daven Rae Kurtz of the New York Times is causing an uproar. His story says that Bishop David Zubrick of the Pennsylvania Catholic Church is going to publicly release the names of clergy members who have committed sexual assault. This will add to the already 300 clergymen who have been named in various sex crimes over the years. According to Mark Sculfor from NBC Philadelphia, many clergymen are filing legal challenges to prevent their names from being released.

Also, according to Andy Sheehan from CBS Pittsburgh, an 884-page document was released by the State Grand Jury after a two-year investigation into the Pennsylvania Catholic Church. This investigation revealed 301 members of the Catholic Church, 99 members in Pittsburgh alone, who had credible allegations of sexual abuse made against them. “One boy was forced to stand on a bed in a rectory, strip naked and pose as Christ on the cross for the priests. They took photos of their victim, adding them to a collection of child pornography which they produced and shared on church grounds,”. “To make it easier to target their victims, the priests gave their favored boys gifts – gold crosses to wear as necklaces. The crosses were markings of which boys had been groomed for abuse,” (Sheehan). Also, according to a story by Laurie Goodstein and Sharon Otterman of the New York Times, “The report, which covered six of the state’s eight Catholic dioceses and found more than 1,000 identifiable victims, is the broadest examination yet by a government agency in the United States of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The report said there are likely thousands more victims whose records were lost or who were too afraid to come forward.” (Goodstein). This report came out a short time after Pennsylvania’s Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick resigned after being accused of sexually abusing young priests, seminarians, and minors. So far, only two cases in the report have led to criminal charges, and it’s likely that very few additional criminal charges or lawsuits will come because of this report. While the church claims they have been transparent over the last 30 years, the report indicates that priests would be removed, and parishioners would not be told the real reason why. This is referred to as a “playbook for concealing the truth,” (Goodstein).

Also, according to Marc Levy of USA Today, this scandal has not stopped some priests from targeting children. A priest in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, was accused of groping a 17-year old girl and sending her nudes only a short time after the Pennsylvania priest scandal broke. “This is at least the second case of possible priest abuse being investigated in the Allentown Diocese since the grand jury finished its report…” (Levy).

Also, according to Craig Walker of the Boston Globe, Cardinal Sean O’Malley is asking all Catholic Dioceses to turn over their records and assist law enforcement officials. He also says more has to be done to combat sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, and that now is the time for the Catholic Church to get together and work to regain the trust it has lost.

These stories show that despite being one of the most trusted members in the community, there are some priests who break this trust in the most serious way possible. Because of these stories, many people wonder how widespread the abuse in the Catholic Church is, and if it will ever end.

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