We are all familiar with the dreadful stories of innocent children who were abused by priests. What is even more disturbing, however, is the manner in which the official church authorities handled such cases. The plight of the poor victims was hardly considered. First priority was to protect the ‘good name’ of the institution. And when influential persons began to protest and tried to redress the damage, they came up against a system unwilling to listen or learn. Father Tom Doyle who made this his life’s work tells the story in the next clip.
Causes of the fiasco
The sexual immaturity of many Catholic priests and other reasons no doubt underlie the problem. But these were not the cause of the disastrous response by church leaders.
The church’s mishandling of priestly child abuse came about through structural inadequacies such as:
* not giving heed to prophetic voices who spoke up;
* bishops who were career men rather than pastoral leaders with a heart for people;
* failure to listen to the laity;
* lack of consultation with professional experts;
* too much dependence on Rome.
It is not our task here to fully analyse the child abuse scandal. We present it as an example of the inadequate exercise of authority — which requires structural reform.