The clerical sex abuse crisis in the Church once again dominated the news in 2018.
In January, Pope Francis set out on what should have been a colorful pastoral visit to Peru and Chile. Instead, it turned into a firestorm of controversy about clerical misdeeds. The scandal continued throughout the year with the revelations of retired U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick leading a double life that involved sexual misbehavior. He was removed from the College of Cardinals and now awaits a Vatican hearing.
The abuse scandal picked up more steam when the Pennsylvania Attorney General released a report claiming that more than 300 priests in that state had been implicated in the abuse of more than 1,000 young people. More states, including New York, now plan similar studies that promise to prolong a scandal that the Church was well within the grasp of eradicating.
While the abuse scandal has been virtually eliminated in the current life of the American Church, the ongoing study of the past threatens to upend the ongoing works of church life.
In the Brooklyn Diocese, Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio held four listening sessions around the diocese to explain the current situation to parishioners and to answer their concerns. He explained his outreach to survivors of the crisis and even expressed surprise at the large number of victims who had come forward.
Politicians who slam the manner in which the Church had handled the crisis continue to threaten the Church while turning a blind eye to the even larger problem in their own public schools. The media never misses an opportunity to chastise the Church over this problem while many times refusing to detail the sordid situations in their own newsrooms.
Meanwhile, the Church continues to be the leader in attacking and resolving the crisis. More has been done to assure the safety of young people within the Church than any other institution.
This has been a year in which the refrain of “we’re sorry” has rung out over and over again as church leaders strive to find the best ways to make sure that this wrongdoing never again stains church life. At the same time, the Church has been a beacon of hope as it strives to rehabilitate itself. While admitting its own sins, it provides a path to redemption and salvation, showing the way to better itself and lead all to eternal happiness.
In February, Pope Francis will preside over a worldwide meeting of bishops to further investigate how the Church has tackled this sorry moment in its history. May 2019 be the year in which significant progress is made so that the Light of Christ may burn ever more brightly.