Tag Archives: victims

Our finest hour: how Laity can help Church overcome abuse crisis

Sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is the most serious issue facing the Church today. The legal and financial ramifications are immense. Even more damaging is the spiritual fall-out. Some Catholics, including victims and their families, are leaving the Church in disgust. Some non-Catholics have become more aggressively opposed to the Church. In spite of all this, this calamity may be our Finest Hour, comparable to the British during WWII.

Perhaps surprisingly, the depth of this crisis confirms the truth of Church teaching on sexual morality. Catholic clergy sexual abuse is one facet of the toxic sexual culture that pervades today’s society. If people had done what the Church teaches, literally none of this abuse, inside or outside the Church, would have happened. Thoughtful people are ready to reconsider their commitments to the Sexual Revolutionary ideology.

The Catholic version of the culture-wide sexual abuse scandal has its own unique features. In most sectors of society, the numbers of boy and girl victims are roughly equal. But the victims of Catholic clergy sexual abuse have been roughly 80% male. My organization, the Ruth Institute, has done the most comprehensive statistical analysis of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. Our reports show that the incidence of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is over 90% correlated with the number of self-described homosexual clergy. Perpetrators of clergy sexual abuse are concentrated in certain age groups. Two “graduating classes” of priests, one group ordained in the late 1960s and the other in the early 1980s, account for a disproportionate percentage of sexual abuse. Our data shows that self-described homosexual clergy are more likely to struggle with celibacy and are less likely to accept Church teaching on sexual morality.

On the bright side, newly ordained priests appear to be different. The incidence of clergy sexual abuse fell in the early 2000s (although it has shown a disturbing recent increase). Recent cases of clergy sexual abuse are about equally divided between male and female victims. Recently ordained clergy appear to be less likely to be homosexually active.

This really is a “bright side.” These findings suggest that appropriate changes in attitudes and policies inside the Church could help prevent future abuse. We, as laymen and laywomen, can play an important role in changing the climate within our Church. The Ruth Institute proposes a simple three-part strategy.

1. Support the victims. Protect the innocent. The Church must acknowledge the pain of the victims and help them heal. We must also remain vigilant in protecting all minors, boys and girls alike, from sexual abuse. “We” includes everyone, clergy and laity, young and old.

2. No new “gay” ordinations. Seminaries and dioceses should follow the Church’s long-established policy of not ordaining men with deep-seated same-sex attraction.

3. Teach the whole truth about Christian sexual morality. The Church should increase educational programs on authentic Church teaching on human sexuality, including Pope St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Traditional Christian sexual ethics protects the interests of children, women, men, and society. Laymen and laywomen can contribute to this goal, both by encouraging their local Catholic institutions, and by their own educational and apostolic work.

For reasons that are not entirely clear to us, we have been chosen to live in this time and in this place. We have a responsibility to future generations to conduct ourselves with courage, clarity,s, and charity. In spite of all the attacks, both in the natural and super-natural realm, we must persevere. Our Lord and His Blessed Mother can use this terrible crisis for good. Let it be said of us, “This was their finest hour.” 

JENNIFER ROBACK MORSE, PH.D. is founder and president of the Ruth Institute. Their reports on clergy sexual abuse, “Is Catholic clergy sex abuse related to homosexual priests?” and “Receding Waves: Clergy Sexual Abuse Since 2000,” can be found at www.ruthinstitute.org, including access to the Ruth institute newsletter, podcast or You-tube channel. Their recently released petition to Make the Family Great Again, can be found at https://lifepetitions.com/petition/askpresident-trump-to-make-the-family-great-again

Defending the Church in her hour of need – two guiding principles

Our beloved Catholic Church is facing the worst crisis in 500 years. Clergy sexual abuse, rampant sexual immorality, and cover-up by Church authorities: it adds up to a Church deeply in need of reform. We are waiting anxiously to see what the hierarchy decides to do. But we have no control over their actions, and indeed, they are divided among themselves. So what can we as laity do to help our mother in her hour of need?

I have been on the forefront of defending the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and human sexuality for the past decade. In my opinion, the laity can and must do two things.

First, we must make it our business to work for justice for the victims of clergy sexual abuse. No excuse-making. “But the Protestants and public schools have as much abuse as we do.” Perhaps true, but not relevant. The only relevant fact is our commitment to getting our own house in order. That includes: justice for the victims, and punishment for the perpetrators, including those who covered up. Justice also includes protection and support for innocent clergy.

Second, we must make it our business to proclaim the Church’s teaching on marriage, family, and human sexuality in our own sphere of influence. This is directly relevant to the current crisis. If the clergy had lived up to Church teaching, including the 6th Commandment and their vows of celibacy, none of the abuse would ever have happened.

I will go further and say: the world desperately needs to hear the Church’s timeless message. We need not apologize for our beliefs. Sexual self-command, lifelong married love, and the need of children for their parents: These teachings are good, decent, and life-giving.

We now know why we have heard so little from the clergy: too many of them are morally compromised. Others are under the thumb of corrupt superiors.

The only way we can be sure the world hears the Church’s teaching is for us, the laity, to deliver that message ourselves.

Please note: these are guiding principles, not a detailed program. Each person will implement these principles in his own unique way, depending on vocation, location, and the season of life. The mother of school children will have a very different role than an attorney at the peak of his career. Both are different from a college student or a young professional beginning her first job. But every one of these people may be needed to address a situation in a local school or church. Every one of them can spread the message of lifelong, life-giving love.

If we make excuses for ourselves or the Church, we are going to look bad, and make the Church look bad. If we act like “business as usual,” we are going to die in an empty church. More importantly, the Lord will ask each one of us for an accounting of how we handle ourselves in this great crisis.

If on the other hand, we faithful Catholics conduct ourselves with dignity and integrity and charity, we will pull our Church through this crisis. We will expose and correct evils that should have been addressed long ago. We will create room for a genuine flourishing of the Gospel. Our neighbors will be drawn to us.

In other words, this is our chance to become saints. We can be crusaders for the truth like
St. Athanasius and authentic reformers like St. Teresa of Avila. Let’s not drop the ball.

JENNIFER ROBACK MORSE, PH.D. is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute, which equips people to defend traditional Christian sexual morality. She is the author of The Sexual State: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along.