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(OPINION): The New Catholic Reformation

Updated: Oct 10, 2019

"The findings and allegations rocked the Catholic church to its core. It brought some to question their faith and relationship with the church and Jesus."

Author: Nate Shallal

For the wrong reasons, Catholic dioceses are once again on the front page of every major news organization.

The events surrounding the Archdioceses of Pennsylvania have further fueled talk of churches, parochial school students, parents, and families.

Over one hundred cases of inappropriate and abusive allegations of priests dating back to the 1960's were confirmed by a report published by the Pennsylvania State Attorney General in August 2018.

The Catholic church has been under a relentless attack since these allegations were confirmed.

First published by the Boston Globe in 2002, this stain on the Catholic church was made into an award winning movie: Spotlight. Further attacks have risen from not only within the bureaucratic system of the Vatican, but from the political left, and everyone else in between.

The issue of an often argued, “ancient religious tradition”, and the common abuse allegations, have turned away countless from not only the whole Church, but from the teachings of good-will, hope, and love.

The Catholic church as we know it is undergoing a tremendous shift in public opinion under the direction of Pope Francis, and the lack of the appropriate responses to the sexual abuse allegations have made a dark impression on millions across the globe.

Catholicism has been a place of worship, prayer, community service, missionaries, and a place of passionate congregations committed to the service of others. It has inspired world leaders, global peace and has provided an impactful education for myself and millions of others through generations.

The work of dutiful clergy and lay-people, however, have been overshadowed by the evils of particular priests who have abused their ordained power.

These priests have taken the innocence and spirit from countless children and have forever altered not only their lives, but the image and life of the Catholic church. A new Gallup poll released recently on January 11th, 2019, shows a stark decrease in the percentage of Catholic Americans who rate the clergy’s honesty and the confidence of organized religion.

31% of those who responded to the poll, view highly of the clergy’s honesty. This is a substantial decrease from just a year ago, when it reached as high as 49% in 2017. Conversely, 44% of Catholics have confidence in organized religion.

The polls clearly coincide with the abundance of press from the Pennsylvania grand jury report and show disapproval of the Catholic church and its leadership. In most of these cases, such individuals attempted and succeeded in covering up allegations of abuse and avoided the prosecution of priests. Justice for thousands of victims is rare and never enough.

The findings and allegations rocked the Catholic church to its core. It brought some to question their faith and relationship with the church and Jesus.

To the outside view and the growing secular society, these reports have increased uncertainty and their doubts about the Church and turn them further away from Sunday mass.

In recent years, the Academy Award Winning Best Picture, Spotlight, has taken the pain, hardship, and neglect of survivors of the Boston Catholic church scandal to the forefront of cinema. The production highlights the crippling impact on one of the largest Catholic communities in the country. This movie casts doubt upon the church and its lenient policy, to reassign abusive priests and create a vast cover up to push the allegations under the table, to rectify and keep the “image” of the church faithful and reputable.

In its conclusion, it leaves the viewer with a sour taste and a heart-wrenching opinion of the holy clergy. It places doubt in the viewer's own parish and priest of what could be going on behind closed doors. Spotlight tested the Catholic faithful and may have turned away countless of the secular world from ever reaching the doors of a church.

Many Catholics shy away from the news, fearful of yet another bombshell story of abuse. With a conflicting world full of anti-religious and anti-faith propaganda, a rare amount of such acts by a sinful clergy, distrust in government, and the issues of an ever-changing world, our only option is to never lose faith.

For Christians, remember those lessons learned, the small miracles of everyday life and instances where holding onto your Christian faith has made a difference in your own life and of others.

The image of the Church and the Catholic faith is dependent on those who are sitting in the pews, providing God’s love, Jesus’ teachings and mercy to others.

The upcoming meeting called by Pope Francis to address these issues of clerical abuse, change is on its way and fairly past due. It may seem as if all hope is lost, but these allegations are only a renewed beginning for a more reformed, unified, and faith filled church.

Raising up the downtrodden, and picking up the disheveled pieces of a beautiful, timeless faith is the key to redesigning our church and changing other’s lives for the better.

Contributor: Nate Shallal

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