Faith tested: Catholics Respond to Church Allegations


With the recent allegations against the Catholic church, many followers are having their faith tested. “The Catholic church is just fertile grounds for a predator and there’s been no oversight, no accountability,” Jim Miles, a member of the Catholic church, said, “but all these scandals do not affect my relationship with the church [because] the core of my faith remains.” (photo by Jessie Bates)

“The Catholic Church did wrong. The priest did wrong… but my faith is not shaken because my belief is [based in transubstantiation],” Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families founder Jim Miles said. “So whether the priest screws up or the pope’s not a good pope, that doesn’t change my relationship with my faith.”

Miles, like many Catholic followers, has recently faced a religious cross-roads as a result of the release of the Pennsylvanian grand jury report on Aug. 14,  which revealed the abuse of more than 1,000 children by hundreds of Catholic priests. Church leaders, including Pope Francis, are accused of hiding these abuses from the public for 70 years.

“Despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability,” the grand jury wrote. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.”

In addition to reopening a scandal that had appeared to have been resolved with Boston in 2002 when the Boston Catholic Church faced similar allegations, this report has forced many Catholics to reevaluate their faith. Some insist on standing by the church; others demand a revision of Catholic tradition; still others maintain their faith despite their detest for the allegations against the church.

“[The scandal] doesn’t affect me because I still believe what I always have believed and the actions of other people don’t change that,” junior Gaby Jenkins said. “It sucks that [the priests’] actions have affected how people look at the Catholic Church but it hasn’t affected my faith in any way.”

These allegations go beyond just the Catholic church, for, as the grand jury wrote, “People of all faiths and of no faith want their children to be safe.” As a result, the prosecution of these sexual predators is essential to the battle against sexual assault, no matter if the prosecuted are respected Catholics and “men of God.”

“Predators push on doors all the time and the only way to deal with it, the only way to get rid of them is to get them out in the open,” Miles said. “There’s got to be some accountability and it’s not going to be fun.”

Unfortunately, the Catholic church has no easy way to prosecute the abusers because of the abusers’ position of power in the church. With this taken into account, it is slightly more understandable why the church covered up the abuses for so long: if these sexual predators were prosecuted, the church itself would also be harmed.

“I think the Catholic Church has a hard time dealing with who their customer is,” Miles said. “If you believe that [the primary goal is to] preserve the church, then you’ll want to hide the scandals. But if you believe that the people who are seeking Jesus or the Lord is the primary customer, then you would protect them; you wouldn’t want to hurt those folk.”

However, it is still necessary for the church to ensure accountability; the church must make a robust attempt to ensure this abuse finally comes to an end. Fortunately, some Catholics are able to take an optimistic view of this situation as a chance for betterment within the church.

“If you look at the dark times of the church, good comes from it,” Miles said. “It’s like a forest fire: it devastates everything but there’s always new growth.”

Information for this article was gathered from The New York Times.