The one thing that came to mind when I found out that the Vatican revised internal laws regarding child sex-abuse cases was “Finally!” Over the past year especially, the Vatican has come under scrutiny for not reacting in a timely and proper manner to sex abuse scandals.
These new revisions they have issued, however, are just that and nothing more. They are a reaction to a problem and not a solution or means to prevent the present or future abuse of children by priests. Child abuse by priests is by no means a new issue and the Church’s legal system, known as Canon Law, seems to have functioned more in the suppressing of cases rather than actually served to deal with the problem. There are reports of victim intimidation and threats in order to maintain their silence.
What amazes me is that there is not a screening or monitoring process that would detect child abuse tendencies. The fact is that priests are in a position that automatically gives them trust and power. They are supposed to be spiritual guides on a person’s religious journey. How can a young child or young adult learn to love their religion and their god if their worldly connection abuses them? At a young age, children are more vulnerable and may not fully understand what is being done to them.
Most importantly, why are many of these priests allowed to continue practicing in their positions after allegations against them have been proven? There should be consequences for their actions; the fact that they are priests should not make them exempt from the law. Interestingly enough, it would seem that ordaining a woman as priest is seen as an equally bad or worse sin.
Lastly, I question why these men became priests in the first place. Did they already have the tendency to sexual abuse before they entered the seminary or did it develop as a result of not be able to engage in sexual pleasure?
If you ever suspect that a child is being abused, do not hesitate to report it to your local Child Protective/ Welfare Services.