Some ideas to respond effectively to the abuse crisis


So I have been continuing to wonder what additional actions the Church could take to improve its situation over the ongoing abuse scandal.

Here are my latest thoughts. I have tried to come up with things that makes sense strategically and are also within Catholic teaching (if not present practice). I also looked for things which would be percieved as ‘real’ action with real results even among those hostile to the Church. aSome I think are already in use.

  1. Require all clergy (any religious) to state on oath whether or not they have themselves abused minors or endangered minors by actions such as cover-ups or transfer of offenders without full safeguards. Penalty for refusal: excommunication. Penalty for a false oath: excommunication. Penalty/future for those admitting wrong-doing: to be decided by tribunals including non-Catholic experts holding public session (with provision for suppression of information when required).

  2. Appoint women to half the positions in the College of Cardinals and half the administrative positions in all diocese and the Vatican.

  3. Forbid in future all clergy to be alone with minors.

  4. Restore the married diocesan priesthood.

  5. Repeal the restriction on homosexuals (not active) becoming priests because of the false idea it gives of the cause of the abuse problem. Replace this restriction with examination and exclusion of anyone who has any level of sexual attraction to children, or to anyone with undeveloped or impaired judgement (this includes adolescents).

  6. Introduce an active programme to reduce the tendency to put priests on pedestals (clericalism).

  7. Abandon/change vestments and clerical clothing associated in the minds of victims with their abusers.

  8. Amalgamate parishes so that priests may minister in larger teams with proper oversight and management.

  9. Develop a programme using good science to instruct children in clear terms about unacceotable actions by adults and other children, what they should do, and how they will be kepy safe. Take special care of children with special needs.

  10. Install cameras in sacristies and other places where clergy may be alone with children.

  11. Ensure face-to-face confessions are visible to others, or that they are eliminated.


Because women will just fix the problem? :roll_eyes:

I guess they’re not going to confession anymore then, since they’ll technically be “alone” with minors. They can’t run to Father alone anymore to discuss abuse they may be receiving at home even if Father is a trusted and cherished person to the kid. No more spiritual direction with a priest for 16 year olds wanting to discern their vocations, since they’re minors. A priest wouldn’t even be able to hold a baby for some mom who asked him to while she runs off for five minutes, since he’d be alone with a minor for crying out loud!

Celibate clergy are not sex-starved beasts. I’m sick of seeing this implication. And there are already priests who are married in the Church.

No. That’s not why men with SSA are barred from the priesthood.

What? We’re to abandon hundreds of years of symbolism in the clothes of the priests because of during a blip on the map worth in time, a few utterly depraved men shamed the collars they wore? Any year of abuse is too many, but this will not fix anything.

This would reduce the number of parishes and also make it harder to go to church for those who weren’t fortunate to have an amalgamate parish near them.

I’m confused, what does science have to do with abuse? Where’s the science that says men become less abusive when they’re married?

Again, that means cameras in the confessionals. No way will there be cameras in the confessionals.

Ah, confessional booths would be good for that!


I don’t think having women around is necessarily an answer. Most women in church work do not contradict or stand up to clergy.

Churches with married clergy have sex abuse problems too. I know of Episcopal priests who have abused children, cheated on their wives with men and even seduced multiple married women. I know of episcopal priests whose spouses have committed sex crimes in the church and are banned from visiting a church. I know of an episcopal priest whose son molested a child at a parish.

all dioceses should already have this trainings for involved children

as a sacristan if drives me nuts to have cameras every where. I used to have a priest who watched me on the security camera…


Right on, man. You’ve got my vote.


Point 1 is good.
Point 2 won’t do a thing. A number of Protestant churches have women elders and/or pastors and abuse still occur. And don’t forget that even secular organizations have problems with rampant abuse.
Point 3. That would prevent clerical abuse but nothing about volunteers.
Point 4. I’m a Protestant and obviously I see no Scriptural need for clergy to be barred from marriage but it has absolutely nothing to do with abuse. We have married pastors and volunteers and some of them are perpetrators. And let’s not forget, some sexually abuse their own children and it’s not just men but women too.
Point 5. I don’t know much about how Catholics priests are ordained so I have no opinion on this other than unfortunately, there is no fool-proof magic detector or method of identifying possible abusers.
Point 6. As a Protestant this makes sense. This could help.
Point 7. I have no opinions on this.
Point 8. I have no opinions on this.
Point 9. I support.
Point 10. I support.
Point 11. I have no opinions on this.

This is what’s missing from your list. If there are suspicions, tell the police immediately and let them investigate.
The issues of the distorted ideas of forgiveness that some hold and favouritism are also important points to address.


Agreed. Good points. Re some of your other comments - I have perhaps not made it clear that my aim in this is not only to protect children and young people from those who would harm them but to restore the reputation of the Church. Some things I am suggesting are symbolic. I also incorporate in my analysis what has happened in other Churches and in other non-Christian organisations. But the Royal Commissioning Australia, which investigated them all, has left me with the conclusion that there has been a particular problem in the Catholic Church.


I have a problem with “if there are suspicions, tell the police immediately and let them investigate”. The priest would be arrested immediately first, then investigated. If the priest was innocent (and there have been a great many innocent priests accused) their name is never cleared in the public’s eye. Alternative suggestions to this??


A person can’t be arrested until they are charged, right?


Some practical and spiritual suggestions:

Can we make it in such a way that priests are never alone with any other individual whether man woman or child? You might mention Confession, but some have suggested all glass Confessionals, which I think is feasible. Even with spiritual direction, this may be done in the priest’s office but leaving the door open with the secretary or someone else being seated on the outside area without overhearing the confidential conversation.

I find it weird reading the Pa grand jury rsport that some kids got abused becaused they slept over at the rectory. That should not have happened in the first place, it’s just plain creepy.

Can seminarians and other laypeople be taught self defense oe something? Again, most of the victims int the report were teen boys. Maybe they were threatened or pressured or something else that is why they were not able to do anything, but I would assume that at their age, many of them would be able to fend off or push away a perp attempting to assault.

On the spiritual side, parents should always pray for the safety of their children, like asking their guardian angels and St Michael to protect them from harm and ill intentioned people. Use holy water and blessed salt often.


I don’t think so. Any appearance of cover up needs to be avoided and this is the only way of doing that.


I also don’t understand why this isn’t step #1 in suspected abuse. Organizations’ protocols always seem to start with, “Report it to your supervisor.” Why not, “Report it to your supervisor and also call the county children & youth office.”


I took a dioscean training course for dealing with and identifying those who may be experiencing abuse. If someone reported to me that they were being abused, I would be required to go to the police. They made that quite clear as part of my training that I was to do that.


Revelation 13.10 provides the answer:
He that leadeth into captivity shall go into captivity: he that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.


As @Peeps alluded, investigations can happen without an arrest as far as I’m aware. Also, this is standard procedure in many organizations and many others are adopting it if they haven’t done so and making as many as possible to be aware of it.
Many think they can handle such abuse cases on their own. They’re NOT capable. That’s ONE factor in why we have systemic problems like Larry Nassar, Philadelphia diocese, Sovereign Grace Ministries, and Jerry Sandusky.

The way things are done in Germany and France maybe worth examining. They don’t release full names until they’re found guilty.


This one point alone, and the very fact that you include it, negates any credibility to your post. Abuse of children has nothing to do with celibacy. Married men, unfortunately abuse children and minors with, again, unfortunate, regularity.


My non Christian opinion only!
I think a thorough psychological investigation of Priests should be performed to try and better understand what personality/behavior differences existed in these Priests from Priests that NEVER did or hid the abuses. The Priesthood probably has hundreds of homosexual Priests that have been true to their vows as well as heterosexual ones. There is something more going on here.
One thing I heard from a psychiatrist is that many Priests involved with these horrors seem to be stuck in an infantile mental development where they failed to mature mentally into accepting responsibility for their actions. They are sorry and distressed that they were caught, not empathizing with their victims. An arrested development as it were. Lack of genuine empathy is a major symptom.
Perhaps with a better understanding of root causes, these types can be not only prevented from entering the Priesthood but can also be helped in resolving their disorders for the general welfare of all humanity. Not only don’t we want them to be Priests, we don’t want them in the general population either!


And this thread, no offense intended, is totally superfluous to the problem at hand. As has been said in other threads by myself and other posters, since 2002, most, if not all, dioceses in the U.S. (at least) have put into place stringent requirements for reporting and dealing with abuse of anyone. There is not wholesale abuse of children going on at present in the U.S.
Now, will an occasional case arise, unfortunately, probably. But I don’t think you are going to see 1000s of cases committed by scores of priests in the present environment of awareness of the problem throughout the U.S. And that probably speaks to many other countries also.



From what I have read about the attitude of the Church, at least pre Vatican II and for some time afterward, it has been the opinion of the church that homosexuality is a matter of arrested psychological development. Many if not most teens experience something called “transitory homosexuality” as a teenager. It can and is often very subtle. Most men progress from that point, but some remain psychologically “stuck” at the phase. (And I know I am not explaining this in very scientific developmental terms)

Don’t know how valid this idea is. Personally, I think there is also some physiological aspect to it, not necessarily a “gay” gene, but probably something goes off the rails in the development of the child in the womb. Personally, it doesn’t really concern me; I’ll leave that to the experts.


Our safe environment training specifically mandates we call authorities first, and only report it to superiors within the church after the authorities have been notified. It’s not a perfect situation, but it eliminates the cover-up angle.

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