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Is the Catholic Church going up in flames?

Composite by Frank Montanez

Pope Benedict XVI resigned as leader of the Catholic Church last week, becoming the first Pope in 600 years to relinquish his papal duties. His health and advanced age have been cited as the main reason for his decision to step down, but speculations have been swirling since the announcement that it might have to do with much more than that.
Accusations of sexual abuse and cover-ups by Church leaders, including Pope Benedict XVI himself – particularly during his years as Cardinal, have plagued the Catholic Church for decades. Loyal supporters argue that Pope Benedict XVI has taken a strong stance against pedophile priests. The one thing we know for sure is that claims of sexual-related crimes by priests keep coming up over and over.  There are also reports of homosexual activity, which is quite hypocritical coming from the most homophobic institution on the planet.
It wasn’t until relatively recently that guilty priests started being formally charged and prosecuted for their sins.  In the past, most priests involved in sexual abuse allegations were simply moved to from parish to parish, where they could continue to commit these heinous crimes, in order to avoid a huge scandal for the Church. Upholding the image of the Catholic Church took precedence over bringing these sexual predators to justice and protecting the victims.
Although the number of Latino Catholics in the U.S. dropped from 58% to 54% in the last five years, it is still the major religious affiliation. Therefore, the fate of the Catholic Church plays an important role in the spiritual lives of Latinos in this country.
I was raised as a Protestant and the concept of confessing ones sins to a priest never made much sense to me; aren’t they basically a middle man between you and God? But, if God is omnipresent, why can’t you speak to him directly? I mean, think about it – He can hear what you’re telling the priest anyway, right? It is deeply disturbing that parents all over the world send their kids to church for spiritual guidance and growth only to have many of them sexually violated by these representatives of God.
In all fairness, Catholic priests aren’t the only religious sexual predators; many leaders and parishioners from different denominations also commit these types of crimes. But it is undoubtedly much more prevalent in the Catholic Church and I suspect the vow of celibacy plays a role in this. It would make sense that a man who is embarrassed of his homosexual orientation or wishes to crush pedophilic thoughts would view priesthood and its mandatory celibacy as a good option.
I’ve been saying for a while now that I believe in God, but I don’t believe in religion. Every time I read another news report about the hypocrisy of these religious leaders who are entrusted with people’s children and faith, I stand even more by that statement. Perhaps the Pope really retired for health reasons; perhaps there’s more to it. We may not find out but, according to what we believe, God knows the truth. And those pedophile priests? They should know better than anyone that they’re playing with fire and might burn in hell no matter how many Hail Marys they say.

About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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