On Keeping the Faith

 

I’ve been thinking a lot about my religious Catholic friends and family over the last several months of stories of new sex abuse scandals coming out. While most of the scandals aren’t new, the level of involvement in the Church, up to the very top, in covering them up, has been deeply concerning. It’s not surprising to see this story out of the Wall Street Journal this week, though I fear what it could mean not just for the Catholic Church, but also our society and civilization on the whole. The Journal reports,

More than a third of U.S. Catholics say the sexual abuse crisis rocking the Catholic Church has made them consider leaving the church, significantly more than when the last major scandal erupted, according to new research conducted by Gallup.

As a parent, this is a question I struggle with: How does one raise a child with a deep sense of faith in God and a religious community (which are both proven to be so beneficial for their emotional development) yet at the same time, keep them physically safe from predators? It’s clear that the Church has a lot of work to do to convince parents that their kids are safe unsupervised, so how does that work in a communal setting? How can parents raise their kids Catholic if they are (justifiably) worried about their physical safety?

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There are 8 comments.

  1. Member

    Bethany Mandel: While most of the scandals aren’t new, the level of involvement in the Church, up to the very top, in covering them up, has been deeply concerning

    This is the problem. The Church has made great strides in protecting children since 2002. Yet, because the Dallas Charter was overseen by the predator Theodore McCarrick, there were no penalties placed in the charter for the bishops who were covering up for predator priests. The Church must also come to grips with the problem it has with homosexual predator priests among the clergy (~80% of abuse cases are homosexual in nature). This is what the good bishops in the Church (Strickland of Tyler, TX and Daly of Spokane, WA for instance) now realize and are proclaiming to their fellow bishops. I would argue that children are much more safe now in the Catholic Church than in public school or other large organizations. Yet we still have a long way to go to clean out the filth.

    Bethany Mandel: How can parents raise their kids Catholic if they are (justifiably) worried about their physical safety?

    This sort of sounds like the married couples who are worried about having children and bringing them up in a world of climate change. It is irrational. Be a parent – be involved with your kids. Raise them Catholic. Know your faith and hold your priest and religious ed teachers accountable. If one is Catholic and one actually believes what the Church teaches – that there is no salvation outside the Church – raising your children Catholic is the only way to go.

    • #1
    • March 14, 2019 at 12:14 pm
    • 4 likes
  2. Member

    I think you’re misinterpreting the cause of the poll results. The Catholic church has instituted policies (background checks, no child ever left alone with an adult, safe-child training…) which have made it probably the safest place to leave your child. Safer than public schools, for sure. 

    Something like 80+% of the abuse was homosexual sex with post-pubescent boys and young men in seminaries. The Church has a homosexual problem, not a pedophilia problem. At least, not a pedophilia problem any greater than the general population.

    I don’t think Catholics are worried about the safety of their children. I think they’re questioning whether their faith is misplaced. Can Catholicism be true and have such corruption within the Body (the Church is an organism, not an institution). To which my answer is, they haven’t thought about it very deeply if they don’t understand that sinners have always been in the Church, right from the start (St. Peter denied Jesus and still became Pope). 

    The question isn’t whether people, including priests and prelates, behave sinfully. The question is, “Is what the Catholic church teaches* true?” If you don’t believe it is, you shouldn’t be Catholic. 

    *Which isn’t always the same thing as what Pope Francis teaches, btw.

    • #2
    • March 14, 2019 at 12:29 pm
    • 8 likes
  3. Member

    Bethany Mandel: How does one raise a child with a deep sense of faith in God and a religious community (which are both proven to be so beneficial for their emotional development) yet at the same time, keep them physically safe from predators? I

    Lead by example, especially when following your faith requires sacrifice. It does not really matter what faith. Look at Scott Wilmott. Look at @iwe and his family.

    My own kids are devout in Orthodox Christianity because Janet and I lived the Orthodox Christian life. (Quick test: if your choice is going to Christmas service – on January 6, because you go to an old calendar church – or blowing it off and going to work that day because your Representative is visiting your office – a visit you helped arrange – what is your choice? Well, we went to church that day, 90 miles away. I left a note for my US Representative, explaining my absence.)

    You cannot guarantee safety. (I got stabbed in the cafeteria of a high school in an upper-middle class town.) You can armor them with faith, by setting the example. I know my children were exposed to pedophile priests, but my kids were left alone. I suspect that was due in equal parts because everyone knew how connected we were to our children (predators seem to have a radar about which kids are distant from their parents and therefore vulnerable) and to God’s grace.

    • #3
    • March 14, 2019 at 12:30 pm
    • 8 likes
  4. Member

    As with any group setting, parental involvement goes a long way toward minimizing the potential for abuse. You don’t (necessarily) have to be there all the time watching. But you can check with other parents about their experiences. You can also check the circumstances surrounding your child’s activities – are they in public or semi-public places where others can see what’s going on, or into which various people at least might walk through or enter (unlocked doors); are other adults involved at least on occasion; is the organizer or leader open to parents sitting in or watching.

    The prevention technique that will be easiest for you is your relationship with your child. Demonstrating to your child how much you love him (or her). Maintaining good communication with your child. People who prey on children usually target children who are vulnerable to an alternative parent because the child doesn’t feel like the child is getting enough parental attention or love. Encourage your child to tell you about what they did at the activity (what was your favorite part? what was most fun? who was there?). Not cross-examination, but genuine interest. (When I was a Sunday School teacher of 3 and 4 year olds I was thrilled to hear from parents that the children did learn from some of my lessons. Hearing that also meant that the parents were talking to their children about what we did in Sunday School.)

    • #4
    • March 14, 2019 at 1:11 pm
    • 2 likes
  5. Thatcher

    Bethany Mandel: How can parents raise their kids Catholic if they are (justifiably) worried about their physical safety?

    Teach your children what is inappropriate touching of their bodies by someone else, and to report it to Mom and Dad if it happens.

    It’s not limited to any religion, and it works for atheists as well.

    • #5
    • March 14, 2019 at 1:55 pm
    • 2 likes
  6. Member

    Bethany, the reforms have been in place for several years and they are working. It’s this constant going back years that keeps this story alive and it effects public opinion. 

    • #6
    • March 14, 2019 at 2:34 pm
    • Like
  7. Member

    Evil is being exposed everywhere – by the Light where darkness cannot hide – in government, religious institutions,the corporate world, education, within families, the entertainment world and social media. The Holy Spirit is clocking in a lot of overtime. 

    People of faith are resilient, and those within the faith, that are calling out the lies and filth, like the clergy within the Catholic Church, will ultimately prevail. We’re witnessing it.

    • #7
    • March 14, 2019 at 5:41 pm
    • 2 likes
  8. Member

    Where would I go, where is this wonderful place outside the Church that is safe from those that betray their faith, and each other? We pray for our wounded, and we pray for our deserters, even those that scorn those of us who remain in the fight.

    It might be different if at the Last Supper as Jesus looked around the table knowing that Judas would betray Him, Peter would deny Him, and the rest would flee had said; Waiter separate checks please.

    • #8
    • March 15, 2019 at 4:56 am
    • 5 likes