The Catholic churchâ€™s decades-long practice of enabling and systematically covering up the rape and molestation of children by priests is by now sickeningly familiar. Yet the scale of abuse; the breadth and depth of trauma inflicted by predators wearing Roman collars; and the coldbloodedness of senior church figures zealous in their resolve to protect the church but indifferent to the suffering of minors, retain their power to shock the conscience.
So it was Tuesday when Pennsylvaniaâ€™s Supreme Court released a massive report on decades of alleged abuse in six of the stateâ€™s eight dioceses, where nearly 2 million Catholics live today. The report, the culmination of a two-year grand jury investigation supervised by the state attorney generalâ€™s office, lays out what amounts to a criminal conspiracy, breathtaking in its scope, reaching from parishes and parochial schools to the Vatican.
The report names some 300accused predator priests, who allegedly abused at least 1,000 victims.
Even as apologists for the Vatican and the clergy continue peddling the myth that the Catholic Churchâ€™s pedophile scandals simply reflect societyâ€™s problems, the weight of evidence is overwhelming proof to the contrary. Thousands of American priests weaponized faith, as Shapiro said, taking advantage of their status and access to children to prey on them. They left uncountable thousands of victims in their wake.
Pope Francis lately has made some positive moves, including accepting the resignations of bishops in Chile and removing Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, following allegations of abuse.
But the pope has proved unwilling and possibly unable to take the sweeping steps required to implement a genuine zero-tolerance policy.
The Pennsylvania report is the most comprehensive X-ray to date of the churchâ€™s corruption in one state. It should not be the last. Even after more than 15 years of revelations, there is more to know - and much more to fix.
-The Washington Post