The eyes of the world will once again be drawn to the painful reality of clerical crimes when Vatican Summit on the Protection of Minors meets this week in Rome.
The damage such crimes have caused is almost incalculable. In the first place, of course, are the victims themselves, attacked by those who should have cared for them. But the damage has not stopped there. The credibility of the Church, and of the priesthood itself, stands in the balance.
Just how bad things can get can be seen from Ireland, where we have dealt with the fallout of clerical crimes for a quarter of a century. Just five men entered the only diocesan seminary in Ireland in 2018, the lowest number since the Maynooth seminary was founded in 1795. The late Fr. Benedict Groeschel claimed in the early 2000s that Ireland was the only country in the world in which he received abuse on the street because he was wearing his religious habit. Many of the Irish have long since abandoned the Church, and everything it stands for, as clearly evidenced by their support for abortion in a referendum last year. A quarter century of scandals about abuse, and the institutional failure to correct it, are the primary agents of this collapse.
The problems of abuse, and institutional failures around it, must be fixed as the first priority. What, then, about the longer term term challenge of restoring the Church and its standing in society?
Read more at Catholic World Report.