The Scandal Bringing the Church to a Standstill


Ava Vercesi

Megan Mahalko ‘19 comments on the Pope’s actions.

The Catholic Church is not a stranger to sexual abuse allegations. Broken in 2002 by The Boston Globe, a story of covered-up sexual abuse allegations riddled the Catholic Church in Boston, and caused a wave of survivors to come forward with their stories. This happened almost sixteen years before the founding of the TIMESUP and #MeToo Movements. Now, with women around the globe finding their voices and realizing they’re not alone, the Catholic Church is once again in the spotlight. But this time it’s not being ignored.

A nun in India has come forward, accusing a priest of thirteen counts of rape. The allegations were going to be ignored and covered up until five of her fellow nuns rallied behind her and brought the issue to the world stage. Now, the priest faces a trial by which he could be sent to prison.

Not only are Indian authorities taking action and acknowledging the rape and abuse allegations, but for the first time, Pope Francis has publicly acknowledged the issue of sexual abuse in the church. The Pope is under international pressure to admit to the wrongdoings of clergy over the years. He has, but many victims are still not happy. They believe that Pope Francis is speaking too broadly about the issue and is not addressing specific actions that he will be taking to fight the issue and find justice for the victims.

In a recent four-day summit, however, Pope Francis declared an all out-war on sexual assault. He compared sexual assault to human sacrifice and stated that a new council has been created to deal with resignations of even the highest level officials if convicted of assault.

The Pope’s steps in addressing this abuse are groundbreaking. Never before has a Pope openly admitted to the wrongdoings of the clergy, let alone taken action to fight the problem.

“Nothing like this has ever really been done before in the history of the Catholic Church. Before now, it’s all been covered up and swept under the rug. I’m hoping it will be a big step going forward- but I am cautious in hoping,” Megan Mahalko ’19.

Already, high clergy have been defrocked after being found guilty of the sexual abuse of children and even nuns. Though there is a ways to go for the church, these are welcome first steps.