An investigation in Boston 16 years ago sparked a widespread look into the Catholic Church and the priests who preach. Cases of sexual assault on children have cost the Catholic Church a fortune, roughly $3 billion. The clergy abuse crisis has affected over 300 children and families in Pennsylvania alone and the problems have been continuously surfacing for some time now.
“I don’t like the word healing, because it’s too much of an individual process, but at the end of the day, that accountability is demonstrated by the payment of money,” says James Stang, an Attorney who works for a firm that takes on many clergy abuse cases.
Church assets like buildings, stocks, and cash have been stripped away from the church since the crisis became known and at least 19 churches in the US have filed for bankruptcy.
Stephen Schneck is a political scientist specializing in the Catholic church place in America at the University of Arizona. Schneck has recalled conversations with Catholic parents.
“One set of Catholic parents told me, ‘I’m never going to let my daughter be an altar girl after this. Another set of parents said they are thinking about taking their children out of Catholic schools. For young people, this is coming at a time when they are already suspicious of institutions and authority. It will impact everything.”
Mary Gautier conducts research at the Center for Applied Research at Georgetown University and she also has provided her perspectives to the public.
“The reasons they say they belong to a church or [what they say] they find meaningful in the church don’t have much to do with who the leader is or who the bishop is. It’s much more personal than that. It’s, ‘this is where I feel a connection to my God. This is the faith community that nourishes me.'”
The crisis is costing the church billions and the fight to end clergy abuse continues.