Will a Bishops’ Conference At the Vatican Solve the Church’s Sex Abuse Crisis?

In the wake of the recent scathing report on the sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania, the Church is in crisis mode. As a reflection of this crisis which has enveloped the Church, Pope Francis recently summoned bishops from all over the world for a meeting focused on the problems stemming from the sexual abuse crisis in the Church. According to the New York Times, it’s the first time the bishops have ever been called to a meeting on a specific topic. The meeting will occur February 21 – February 24, 2019 at the Vatican. It will likely involve helping bishops understand how to recognize the signs of abuse and intervene. Whatever course of action comes out of the meeting, it will not stop the unprecedented governmental and public scrutiny of the Church’s policies and practices regarding sexual abuse by priests.

As another example of the crisis, in an unprecedented move, the Vatican’s former ambassador in the U.S. recently suggested the Pope had ignored Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse. The Pope is meeting with bishops from the U.S. in an attempt to investigate why McCarrick was allowed to ascend to his position despite his history as a sexual predator. He has since resigned. It is possible Pope Francis lifted sanctions against McCarrick even after the abuse was properly reported.

Sexual abuse claims have appeared across border lines. From the damaging report out of Pennsylvania to a newer study out of Germany that uncovered thousands of additional victims over the past several decades, the bad news for the church doesn’t seem to be ending any time soon. And still, the Church has taken no decisive action to remove those Bishops and Cardinals who have been part of the problem.

The initial reports of the scandal occurred surfaced in the mid-1980s. Because these early claims came from the United States, many believed it was only an American problem. Later, however, those reports spread to other English speaking countries like Canada, Ireland, England, and Australia. The claims really came to light in 2002 with the Boston Globe’s Spotlight series. Many Catholics had hoped that with the election of Pope Francis in 2013, the abuse problem would be solved, and those who had worked to cover it up would be held responsible, however, little has been done about the issue to date. People who have been abused by a Catholic priest or any religious leader for that matter deserve justice.