The Faithful Are Considering Abandoning The Church (#GotBitcoin?)
Thirty-seven percent said they were questioning this year whether to remain part of the church, up from 22% in 2002. The Faithful Are Considering Abandoning The Church (#GotBitcoin?)
More than a third of U.S. Catholics say the sexual abuse crisis rocking the Catholic Church has made them consider leaving the church, significantly more than when the last major scandal erupted, according to new research conducted by Gallup.
The study found that 37% of U.S. Catholics said the abuse crisis had led them to question whether to remain part of the church. That number is up from 22% of Catholics who said the same in 2002, when the Vatican last dealt with a major sexual abuse scandal.
Catholics who seldom or never attend church were most likely to question whether they should leave entirely. Among those, forty-six percent said they were questioning this year, up from 29% in 2002. Meanwhile, 22% of those who attend church every week were questioning whether to remain, up from 12% in 2002.
Many Catholics said they had previously believed the church had put the problem of sexual abuse by priests behind it. But a series of scandals—including a Pennsylvania grand-jury report that detailed more than half a century of abuse by priests in that state—rekindled anger about the church’s failure to protect children from abusive clergymen.
Last month, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., was defrocked after being found guilty of sexual abuse of minors and sexual misconduct with adults. Another U.S. cardinal, Donald Wuerl, resigned as archbishop of Washington in October after coming under fire for not doing enough to root out abusive priests.
A separate Gallup study conducted late last year found that 31% of U.S. Catholics rated the ethics and honesty of clergy highly, down from 49% in 2017 and 63% in 2008.
The percentage of the U.S. population that identifies as Catholic has been trending slightly downward, from 25% at the turn of the century to 22% last year, according to Gallup.
After the Boston Globe did a series on the sexual abuse by Catholic priests and the church’s efforts to cover it up in 2002, “the average lay Catholic was able to accept that there were many bad apples and the church was going to need to clean them up,” said Chad Pecknold, a professor at the Catholic University of America. The revelations last year “deepened the original sense of betrayal” among the faithful, he said, because bishops’ involvement in covering up the abuse became clear.
“It’s understandable that for people whose faith is weak, this is just enough to push them out,” Mr. Pecknold said.
Chilean Cardinal Accused of Sex-Abuse Coverup Resigns
Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati is the latest member of Chile’s Catholic Church hierarchy to resign amid the country’s clerical sex-abuse crisis
Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the archbishop of Santiago, Chile, the latest member of the Latin American country’s Catholic Church hierarchy to step down under fire for his handling of clerical sex abuse.
Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati, 77 years old, is being investigated by Chilean prosecutors on charges that he covered up clerical sex abuse. He and the archdiocese are also being sued for allegedly covering up a rape in the city’s cathedral. The cardinal denies wrongdoing.
The cardinal offered his resignation to the pope last May, along with the rest of the Chilean bishops conference, in an extraordinary collective gesture aimed at resolving the country’s clerical sex-abuse crisis. Since then, the pope has accepted the resignations of eight of the bishops, including Cardinal Ezzati.
At a news conference in Santiago on Saturday, the cardinal said he was leaving his post “with head held high” and confident that the judicial process would vindicate him.
Abuse victims had protested that Cardinal Ezzati remained in place more than two years after he turned 75, the age when all bishops are required to submit their resignations to the pope. The pope often allows bishops to serve several years past that age.
Cardinal Ezzati “represents everything against which we have struggled for years, especially the culture of abuse and coverup, which has damaged and destroyed so many lives in our country and the world,” said a joint statement by José Andrés Murillo, James Hamilton and Juan Carlos Cruz, Chilean abuse victims who met privately with Pope Francis at the Vatican last year.
Pope Francis has drawn criticism for his support of several bishops accused of sex abuse, covering it up or other misconduct.
In January 2018, the pope sparked an outcry when he said that victims who had accused another Chilean bishop of covering up sex abuse were guilty of “calumny.” He later admitted to grave errors in the matter, saying that he had been misled, and accepted the bishop’s resignation.
On Tuesday, the Vatican said the pope had refused to accept the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin as archbishop of Lyon, France, after he was convicted by a French court of failing to report sex abuse. Cardinal Barbarin, who denies wrongdoing and is appealing, has chosen to go on leave and hand over leadership of his archdiocese to his vicar general.
Cardinal Ezzati’s resignation applies only to his duties as archbishop of Santiago, which includes more than 4 million Catholics. He remains a member of the College of Cardinals and thus eligible until he turns 80 to vote in a conclave to elect a future pope.
The pope didn’t name a permanent successor as archbishop of Santiago, but appointed Bishop Celestino Aós of Copiapó to lead the archdiocese as an administrator for an indefinite period.
Lawsuit Alleges Sexual Abuse at Washington, D.C., Preschool
Civil action claims school associated with Washington Hebrew Congregation enabled predator of children.
Families of eight children have filed a lawsuit accusing a preschool associated with a Jewish congregation in the nation’s capital of enabling a sexual predator for more than two years.
The children, boys and girls then between the ages of 2 and 4 years old, “were subject to systemic and regular sexual abuse on school property, during the school day, by a member of the teaching staff” at Edlavitch-Tyser Early Childhood Center at Washington Hebrew Congregation, according to the civil complaint, which was filed Monday in the local superior court.
The suit also names Deborah Schneider Jensen, listed on Washington Hebrew’s website as head of schools-early childhood education, as a defendant.
The alleged abuser, a man, isn’t named as a defendant in the lawsuit, and he hasn’t been criminally charged, so investigators aren’t naming him.
The suit alleges that the employee was hired to teach and care for children at the school without any professional background in teaching or child care.
The suit also claims that this person was allowed to be alone with children, violating Washington, D.C., rules that require at least two adults to be present.
Both parents and teachers reported concerning behavior to Ms. Jensen as early as one month into this employee’s time at the school, the lawsuit said.
He started around March 2016.
Washington Hebrew said it was reviewing the suit and denied allegations that the preschool had violated the law, as described in the suit.
“Although there has not been any arrest, these allegations are very troubling; as a faith community, Washington Hebrew has supported and will continue to support its entire community as individuals grapple with how these allegations affect them and their family,” Washington Hebrew said in a statement Tuesday.
In a letter to parents last summer, which was reviewed, Washington Hebrew said it placed the employee on administrative leave after learning of allegations of possible inappropriate conduct on Aug. 15, while contacting both police and child-protective services.
A police spokeswoman confirmed that the investigation continued and that no arrests had been made.
The plaintiffs’ law firm, Cohen Milstein Sellers & Toll PLLC, said in a release that it expects additional alleged victims.
The Washington Hebrew Congregation and the school are in the city’s northwest quadrant, close to American University and the National Cathedral.
The unnamed families behind the suit are seeking both punitive and compensatory damages, including money to help manage repercussions from abuse, such as costs for medical and psychiatric care.
Pope Francis Warns Against Division In Response To Vatican Scandals
Pontiff says bad news shouldn’t discourage church after a year dogged by crises.
Pope Francis urged hope and warned against polarization in response to crisis in the Catholic Church, at the end of a year marked by scandals over financial dealings and sex abuse that besmirched the reputations of the last three popes and other prominent clerics.
A Vatican report revealed in November that Pope Francis and his two immediate predecessors had failed for years to discipline U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual misconduct. Separately, the church was dogged during 2020 by scandals over a loss-making investment purchase in London real estate by the Vatican’s powerful Secretariat of State.
In his Christmas speech to Vatican officials on Monday, Pope Francis cautioned against “judging the church hastily on the basis of the crises caused by scandals past and present.…Problems immediately end up in the newspapers—this happens every day—while signs of hope only make the news much later, if at all.”
The Vatican has charged an Italian businessman with extortion, embezzlement, fraud and money laundering in connection with the real-estate investment.
Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, who oversaw the investment during his time at the secretariat, resigned in September, though the Vatican hasn’t explained why. The cardinal has denied wrongdoing. In November, the Vatican announced that the secretariat would no longer manage its own investments, which would be transferred to the Holy See’s treasury.
According to the report on former Cardinal McCarrick, St. John Paul II appointed the cleric as archbishop of Washington, D.C., in 2000 despite warnings that he had been accused of pedophilia and of sharing his bed with adult seminarians.
Under Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican pressed Mr. McCarrick to resign from the Washington role and keep a low profile, but didn’t subject him to a church trial. Pope Francis followed the lead of his predecessors and assumed that the allegations had been rejected. Mr. McCarrick, who was dismissed from the priesthood last year, has denied wrongdoing.
In Monday’s speech, Pope Francis called on church leaders to address the crisis in a collaborative way.
“When the church is viewed in terms of conflict—right versus left, progressive versus traditionalist—she becomes fragmented and polarized, distorting and betraying her true nature,” he said.
While stressing the need for new ways to spread the Gospel, the pope warned against the idea of the church as “just another democratic assembly made up of majorities and minorities.”
The remark echoed the pope’s earlier warnings about the German Catholic Church’s “synodal path,” a series of talks among bishops and laypeople launched this year in response to the abuse crisis. The German initiative aims to rethink church teaching and practice in areas including homosexuality, priestly celibacy and the ordination of women.
On Monday, the pope also sounded one his frequent themes when he warned against the evil of “idle chatter, which traps us in an unpleasant, sad and stifling state of self-absorption. It turns crisis into conflict.”
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