> Sins > TOC > SPOTLIGHT at 20: Problem
Sins of the Fathers

January 7, 2022

The Catholic sex abuse crisis WILL happen again.

Because it IS happening again.

Because, among other things, lay Catholics are making the SAME mistakes.

The Problem

I'm a survivor of the Catholic and I'm DEEPLY concerned about the state of the Catholic Church, twenty years after SPOTLIGHT; after the release of the articles that inspired the movie.

1. Men like My Friend the Cardinal, who witnessed, at least in part, my and our sexual abuse by Fr. LeRoy Valentine at the Church of the Immacolata in the late 1970s, and then Gaslighted me in 2002, in the aftermath of SPOTLIGHT, continue to run the Catholic Church.

2. Certain parents knew (some of) what was going on, back in the day. Moms saw creepy stuff with their own eyes, picking up their kids from parties, etc. So they knew which priests to warn their kids about. The problem is that, instead of sharing that knowledge and protecting EVERY kid, they chose to protect only their OWN kids. And sometimes the friends of their kids. However, while the parents of some of my friends knew about Fr. Valentine, nobody told MY PARENTS or ME to watch out for him. I see the same calculation at play in some Catholics; they know the problems continue, so they know how to — and that they NEED to, still — be careful and protect their own kids. But what about the kids whose parents do NOT know to be careful? Who will protect THEM?

3. Catholic bishops, like Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville, aided by Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski of St. Louis, rather than expelling KNOWN abusers of seminarians at the FIRST sign of a problem, as is the policy, instead continue to protect and try to ordain them. In the case of Stika and Knoxville, that means a multi-accused rapist. And seminarian. The Seminarian.

4. Who will these HORRIBLY FLAWED, PREDATORY seminarians, who are sexually harassing, abusing, and assaulting their fellow seminarians, attack when they are alone, in a parish?

5. The incentives remain in place for bishops like Bishop Stika to ordain as many priests as possible, regardless of their quality. In this case, who they may sexually assault.

6. The same justifications and rationalizations, that enabled the worst of the Catholic sex abuse crisis, continue on in the church.

7. SEMINARIANS, PRIESTS, & BISHOPS who KNOW of the abuse by seminarians, continue to (just) follow orders and keep their mouths shut. The problem is, if they can keep their mouths shut about the sexual abuse of their fellow seminarians, what else are they will to keep their mouths shut about?

8. CARDINAL SEAN O'MALLEY & FR. HANS ZOLLNER, the Catholic Church's highest level advocates for Catholics, and survivors, continue to shun survivors who try to blow the whistle to them about the (mis)treatment of survivors by (arch)dioceses. Presumably (just) following orders.

9. THE PRESS, Catholic and secular, continue to Enable the Catholic Church, refusing to require that the church keep its promises, starting with VOS ESTIS LUX MUNDI, Pope Francis' bill of rights for survivors. Instead of digging into the reality of VOS ESTIS, and talking to survivors about their experiences, the press continues to take the church at its word.

10. ENABLING by prominent lay Catholics — who know of at least some of what's going on, including the past actions of bishops, archibshops, and cardinals, but refuse to speak out about and against it — continues.

11. The instinct of Catholics, of all types, CONTINUES to be to Enable; to protect the church, its reputation, and financial resources. Before, and above, innocent children, women, and men.

That's not progress.

I know you don't WANT this to be true.

But it is.

Don't romanticize it.

We are ALL vulnerable to Satan.