There are people out there who dismiss abuse within the Catholic Church as a fringe issue. It’s only a handful of priests who commit sexual crimes, and it’s unfair, they say, to malign the entire institution.
Well, what percentage of priests would have to be accused of sexual abuse before you admit it’s more than just a fringe problem? 1%? 2%?
In Australia, where the Royal Commission is looking into “Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse,” it was revealed today that the number is so much higher than anyone ever would’ve guessed.
Commissioners surveyed Catholic Church authorities and found that between 1980 and 2015, 4,444 people reported they had been abused at more than 1,000 Catholic institutions across Australia, said Gail Furness, the lead lawyer assisting the commission. The average age of the victims was 10.5 for girls and 11.5 for boys.
Overall, 7 percent of priests in Australia between 1950 and 2010 were accused of sexually abusing children, Furness said.
Accused isn’t the same as convicted, of course, but if 7% of any other group was linked in any way to such horrific crimes, would anyone refer to their teachings as a source of morality? Would you continue taking your kids there? It’s telling that a religious institution continues to get a free pass.
This inquiry into the Church is a start. A formal report on the Commission’s findings are due by the end of the year. Maybe then, people can see the Catholic Church for the organization it’s become, warts and all, instead of ignoring the worst aspects of it.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)