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.
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