Sexual scandals and inappropriate behavior are as old as the Bible. I give you (1 Corinthians 5:1) in which Paul writes: “It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father's wife.”
In more modern times, there have been sex scandals involving TV evangelists from Aimee Semple McPherson in the '20s to Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart in the '80s. And there have been more recent examples, too, Ted Haggard, Bob Coy, Bill Gothard.
But at least those scandals involved adults; what has happened within the Roman Catholic Church involves children and for that reason it is the greater sin.
A Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, grand jury released a report after a two-year investigation into six of the state's dioceses and found 301 “predator priests” who were “raping little boys and girls.”
It is not the first time such allegations have been made, but it may be the first time the allegations have been so exhaustively detailed, including the naming of priests and their alleged victims.
In Ireland, where Pope Francis visited last week and issued another apology (but took no responsibility) for un-priestly behavior, more stories surfaced detailing what happened to unwed mothers and their babies seven decades ago in a home created for girls and women who became pregnant out of wedlock. The girls and women were abused, their babies either buried in the home's yard, or forcibly taken from them to be adopted, all this from a church that claims to be "pro-life."
Writes the Irish Examiner: “Between 1991 and 2011, the numbers of atheists, agnostics, and those with no religion in Ireland increased more than four-fold to 277,237. This group included 14,769 children of primary school age and 14,478 of secondary school age.”
Is it any wonder?
Last Sunday, the former top Vatican diplomat in the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a frequent critic of Pope Francis, released an 11-page letter in which he claimed the Vatican hierarchy has been complicit in covering up for some abusers and their protectors. Vigano claims Pope Francis knew about accusations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians for years before the public learned about it and that when those accusations became public he refused to punish McCarrick, instead allowing him to choose powerful American bishops.
During a brief meeting with reporters on his return to Rome, the Pope was asked if Vigano had informed him in 2013 about Cardinal McCarrick's record of abuse and whether his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had sanctioned the cardinal as Vigano claims. The New York Times reported Francis did not deny it, saying he would not “dignify” the allegations with a response.
The Catholic Church and the Pope's few defenders have said much of this behavior took place years ago and is only now coming out. There should be no statute of limitations when it comes to sins within any church, including attempts to cover them up.
Surely the Catholic Church's leadership is familiar with (James 3:1): “Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.” Then there is this command from God Himself: “you must purge the evil from among you.” (Deuteronomy 17:7)
If that isn't enough for the Catholic Church to purge these evil priests and those who covered for them, they might consider the words of Jesus, who they presume to serve: “If anyone causes one of these little ones -- those who believe in me -- to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (Matthew 18:6)