Lea Rose Emery
Remember the time there was a systematic cover up of abuse, molestation, and rape at the hands of priests that went all the way to the top of the Church? A conservative estimate says there were 17,200 victims in the US alone, and this type of mistreatment happened world-wide. When complaints came in, priests and other offenders were transferred, rather than punished. The extent of their actions will probably never be fully understood, because of the decades of cover up.
But the Church isn’t denying it anymore. The archdiocese of Milwaukee acknowledged the severity of the issue and agreed to pay a $21 million settlement to 300 victims. But these types of settlements are few and far between. Luckily, Pope Francis has set up a tribunal to hold the bishops who facilitated the cover up to account. The molestation of children is still happening at the hands of priests, 15 years after the Boston Globe broke the story.
In fact, in August 2018, a grand jury reported that internal documents from six Pennsylvanian dioceses noted that over 300 “predator priests” were “credibly accused” (a seemingly subjective accusation acknowledgement based on the discretion of individual dioceses) of harming more than 1,000 child victims; the alleged violations go as far back as 1947. Due to statute of limitations, only two priests were charged with abusing minors.
In February 2019, however, Pope Francis publicly acknowledged the systemic maltreatment and vowed to combat the problem. He said, “I think that it’s continuing because it’s not like once you realize it that it stops. It continues. And for some time we’ve been working on it.”
The International Union of Superiors General has used the uprising of the #metoo movement to denounce the “culture of silence and secrecy.” With the support of Pope Francis and the pushback from the community of international female superiors, the Catholic church claims to be “working on” overcoming the years of sexual mistreatment by persons in power.