Is the Catholic Church Beyond Redemption?

The New York Times

By Lisa Tarchak

Ms. Tarchak is a senior editorial assistant.

CreditCreditTerry Vine & J Patrick Lane/Blend Images, via Getty Images

respond to a dad’s plea for members of the faith to demand the resignation of the entire clergy, including the pope.

A few weekends ago, Naka Nathaniel stood up during a Mass in Atlanta and confronted his priest about the Roman Catholic Church’s response to the Pennsylvania sexual abuse cover-up. In an Op-Ed essay last week, Mr. Nathaniel wrote about balancing his already complex relationship with Catholicism with his role as a father raising a 9-year-old son in the Catholic faith. He concluded that the church can no longer be reformed from within. “I’m mad at the church administration,” he wrote. But, he added, “I’m also angry at the congregation. I’m upset with the people who aren’t demanding that every member of the clergy resign.”

We published more than 900 responses to the essay, many raising the same issues as Mr. Nathaniel. A selection of comments, edited for length and clarity, is below.

I long ago left the Catholic Church and I never felt the same level of comfort and pride that the author described in his relationship with Catholicism. Yet I was very moved by his obvious love for his church and all that it meant to him growing up. So I find myself even more angry and disgusted with the church, not only for the horrendous abuse of children with all the attendant psychological damage but also the significant trauma to believers who were not physically abused. A source of comfort to many has been forever sullied and it is hard to believe that the Catholic Church can be redeemed. Shame on the church for abusing children and shame on the church for abusing the trust of the faithful and destroying all that they held dear in their faith. — Judith C. McGovern, West Haven

“I’m upset with the people who aren’t demanding that every member of the clergy resign.” Really? And should they all resign, en masse, who will raise their hand to minister to the poor, the suffering? Who will devote their whole lives to this cause, as Catholic priests (and nuns) have done? Because there are more than 35,000 priests in this country alone, and the overwhelming majority are not criminals. I, too, am angry and disgusted by this horrific behavior, including the abhorrent moral transgression of the cover-up by officials. But I am asking that not all priests be tarred by the same brush. — Ed, Charlottesville, Va.

Reform must happen from within

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