The Catholic Church: accountability and change

“Even a single case of abuse” must be met “with the utmost seriousness.”

This was pope Francis’ appeal at a Vatican meeting in February 2019. There is much to be said about it, but words are not action. There is much to be said about the lifting of the rule of the pontifical secret as well, but action does mean a change in culture. Throughout this whole matter the most alarming thing has been the lack of leadership and morals of a religion which preaches morality, and which is supposed to lead over a billion catholic men and women. With the revealing of thousands of victims of abuse worldwide, this issue should not be the primary source of alarm, and yet it is. Seventy years ago Father Fitzgerald warned the existing pope of the existence of predators among priests, and since then the Church has done most everything to not confront the issue, and to bury it for as long as possible.

It is clear that some drastic changes need to be made. The solutions will not be easy, nor should they be. Is it stronger regulations? Background checks? Punishment? Or even abolishing priesthood? (as James Carroll proposes(1)). Today Pope Francis must deal with this issue, and the question is can he change the Church? Seven years into this role and only more controversy has arose. Last year, several days before the Vatican meeting on clerical sexual abuse, where he appealed to them with the strong words seen above, he said: “those who spend their lives accusing, accusing, and accusing are – I won’t say children, because the devil doesn’t have any – but they are the friends, cousins and relatives of the devil.”(3) When putting this in relation to all the victims of abuse, it is chilling.

In any case, whether it be with Francis or not, measures and accountability need to be taken, and organizational wide Church mentality needs to change. Should they need any guidance, they had but look at what they preach.






  3 comments for “The Catholic Church: accountability and change

  1. eab7ab
    April 10, 2020 at 6:16 pm

    I think this is a very interesting topic you are addressing. I was raised extremely Catholic as well as generations before me, and this is a topic I tend to bring up a lot when my family gets into debates. I think for so long their was a custom of silence in the church and infallibility, I wonder if that can be erased in the eyes of older practitioners. So my question back to you/ in general is how would changes really effect the views of traditional catholics who still truly believe priests as infallible?

    • Paul Jouffroy
      April 11, 2020 at 4:25 am

      I was myself raised in a ultra catholic town, and I know what it is to think of the Church as infallible. I find that the way to think about it is to think about the root of the matter. Faith in God is one thing, faith in humans is another. Do these traditional Catholics believe that priests are human or not? If so, how can they be infallible? Isn’t God the only infallible being?
      The fact is that the Church is here to represent God on earth, yet they are directly going against his will by doing harm to others, not just by having priests who commit these crimes but by covering them up for decades and causing even more harm to the victims by effectively silencing them.
      Faith in God does not mean obliviousness to facts.

      You should check out this article:

  2. er4uy
    April 11, 2020 at 12:00 am

    Hey Paul- I’m really interested in learning more about the topic you’re writing about and I think it’s really exemplary of how organized religion could be a vector of power over people that can bring about many negative things. Being Jewish, I definitely see the positives of organized religion- it gives me a certain identity, provides customs to follow and most importantly a community I can belong to. However, like in any organized religion when things are taken to the extreme they also show their ugly side; this is most evident right now with the ultra-orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn continuing to congregate and host events well into the COVID-19 crisis a few weeks ago, causing the disease to spread rampantly through their community as well as neighboring areas. In terms of Catholicism, although I’m no expert, it seems like there is a very large bureaucratic pyramid of power that goes descends from the Pope to individual priests that lead churches. On one hand, this organization of power can be useful for unification purposes, but it also shows its negatives when injustices such as the abuses committed by certain leaders of churches can be masked by the bureaucracy to keep everything running “business as usual”.

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