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Faculty Calls for Stronger Faith, Personal Accountability amidst Sexual Abuse Scandals within Catholic Church

This article is in no association with Brophy’s Parish or community. 

By Eric Lindholm ’19


The Brophy faculty calls for students and Catholics to remain steadfast and prudent in their faith as the Church faces sexual abuse scandals that have engendered harm and broken trust in the Catholic and international community.

During the last couple weeks, the world reacted to reports of 300 predator priests accused of sexually abusing over 1000 child victims in six Pennsylvania dioceses.

International outrage has sprouted in countries like Ireland that has its own troubled history with Clerical sexual abuse, notably in the mother-and-baby homes.

While there have been reports of Catholic sex abuse before, the scale of these incidents was particularly alarming and triggered media scrutiny.

Physics teacher and Jesuit priest Fr. Juan Pablo Maruffo Del Toro said his initial feelings were “anger, disappointment, feeling betrayed by the church I love, by my brother priests, [and] by the institution I belong to.”

Brophy Principal Mr. Bob Ryan felt that “As a father, I can’t imagine that happening to young people. I think about my own daughters, and just feel sadness,”

“There is a lot of anger, frankly, to people who are in such positions of esteem and trust [that] can use those positions in such destructive and manipulate ways which just really angers me,” said Mr. Ryan.

Furthermore, Mr. Ryan expressed concerns about how these incidents contribute to the falling levels of religiousness, a key tenet to the Graduate at Graduation profile. “There is a growing extent to which people these days, not just young people, that claim “I’m spiritual, but not religious,” I’m into God, but I don’t have any interest in the church.” What happened in Pennsylvania … just adds fuel to the fire, and it gives young people another reason to say “why I would I want to be affiliated with this institution that is guilty of such systemic sin,” said Mr. Ryan.

Brophy ethics teacher and priest-in-training Mr. Chow responded to the “spiritual, but not religious sentiment” by referring to Saint Paul’s quote that “Christ wants us to be hot or cold, and lukewarm are the ones God will spit out.”

As a few high ranking Bishops and Cardinals in the Catholic Church were exposed as complicit in sexual abuse, the Church is experiencing lower reserves in trust and confidence from its members.

Fr. Del Toro says that our faith is in Christ and Christ does not fail us, and that our faith in God should be greater than what the Church has done recently.

“Ignatius in his exercises tells us that a decision made of fear, anger, frustration, is never a good decision,” Father Del Toro said. “We have to discern and make decisions out of love, out of compassion, out of joy, out of hope.”

Some critics blame clerical celibacy, the rule in the Catholic Church that only unmarried men can be appointed to the priesthood, as the root cause for sexual abuse.

Opponents of the Church’s policy assert that other forms of Christianity, such as Lutheranism and Evangelicalism, don’t follow the clerical celibacy rule and therefore report fewer cases of sexual abuse.

However, Brophy philosophy teacher Mr. Tom Mar does not agree that priest celibacy is a relevant factor in clerical sexual abuse scandals.

“Clerical celibacy, I am convinced, has absolutely nothing to do with the current crisis. Our modern ideas of healthy sexuality are too preoccupied with genital expressions of sexuality,” said Mr. Mar.

“Immorality is not the result of rules that we find too ponderous; immorality is the result of refusing God’s constant grace and help to live the call of holiness,” says Mr. Mar when addressing the concern of an overly rigid standard Priestsare held to.

The Dallas Charter, shorthand for the USCCB document calledthe Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, was created in 2002 to address allegations of sexual abuse on minors and offer means of reconciliation, accountability, and prevention.

To take the necessary steps for addressing the Church’s sins, Mr. Chow said that “victims are still here from decades ago” and that “this is going to be an ongoing wound that we as a church are called to accompany people and minister to them.”

Alongside being advocates for helping victims of sexual abuse, Mr. Marchallenged the community to think deeper about why these sexual abuses occurred, and said “How do we allow, or even promote, a culture of sexual license? What personal and cultural elements paved the path to these sins?” said Mr. Mar.

Mr. Mar said we can take action today by “[making] holiness your goal in life” and “[helping] others to be holy in their lives.”

In hisfinal words, Mr. Mar said: “Ask yourself: what can I do to not just be a good man or woman, but a holy man or woman? Do it. The grace of God is there–get started.”

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