Grand Jury Report: An Uneasy Time for the Catholic Church

Isabella Viator '22, Staff Writer

The past few months have not been easy. Catholics and non-Catholics alike were extremely disturbed in August when the 900-page Grand Jury report holding the much-awaited truth about abuse in the Catholic dioceses in Western Pennsylvania was released. This truth has been lurking in the background of hundreds of churches for the past seven decades. Now, in 2018, the secrets of many clergy members have been revealed to the general public. The reports stated that over 300 members of the Catholic Hierarchy were guilty of assault, and even more were guilty of covering it up. There were over 1000 victims of these offenders.

Non-Catholics are deeply troubled by the news, Lay Catholics are questioning their faith, and many priests are afraid to put on their collars. I decided to ask a few of my peers about the current state of the church. Two are freshman at Oakland Catholic and two are freshman at Central Catholic. I conducted one interview at a playground and the other three were conducted over text message. After each interview, I compiled a summary of what the group said and believed.

When I asked what their first reaction was to the report, people replied that they were shocked. One didn’t believe it at first, that such an unfathomable evil had been committed, on our own soil: “I felt like people who could have once looked up to these priests were abandoned” Others worried that priests that they had looked up to might just be one of the men listed.

My second question was: “How do you think the church could have handled the problems better?” Everyone agreed that the church should have dealt with these horrible issues a long time ago: “This is why there’s so few people going to church nowadays.” One girl commented that it’s not only the actions of the priests, but more so the complete disregard of the rights of the victims by some of the hierarchy of the church. She believes that that is the reason why more people are questioning whether they want to be in the church. The final question was the hardest for everyone. I asked: Who do you blame? Half of the people replied with the assaulters and the bishops, but others simply replied: “I don’t know.”

 

Work cited

  1. Boorstein, Michelle. “Pennsylvania Supreme Court Approves Release of 900-Page Grand Jury Report about Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 27 July 2018.
  2. Rousselle, Christine. “Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report Details Decades of Clerical Abuse Allegations.” Catholic News Agency, Catholic News Agency, 14 Aug. 2018.