Our View: Catholic Church needs accountability

Our View

In short: The Church needs to crack down on scandals and abuses if it wants to be seen as a moral compass.

The Catholic Church has a reputation of fighting for morality and the greater good, but it is struggling to hold the moral high ground within its own organization.

Recent revelations about past sex scandals involving priests and alleged cover-ups have cast doubt on the church’s devotion to its moral practices. If priests who have a history of molesting children are allowed to continue working in leadership roles – particularly those involving children – the church could clearly be working harder.

Pope Benedict XVI is accused of helping hide such controversies while he was still a cardinal, and the allegations against him are serious. He allowed the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy of Wisconsin to continue his work with children after it was revealed that he had molested over 200 deaf boys. Even in such a clear-cut case of moral right and wrong, then-Cardinal Ratzinger erred on the side of secrecy.

Now the dirty laundry is starting to come out, and the Vatican is dealing with the bad publicity that comes with it. It’s time for them to take the high ground.

Instead of hiding scandals and making excuses, the church needs to open up and discuss ways it plans to prevent issues like this in the future. Many people, such as Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, have suggested ending the vow of celibacy for priests, and others have suggested the pope resign.

Instead of concealing the issues of priests, the church should deal with them. These priests are violating the vital bond of trust that people should have with their religious leaders. It is getting increasingly more difficult for Catholic leaders to effectively lead by example as long as the church is hiding and seemingly accepting the sins of its priests.

The publicity will become more positive if the church opens its doors and deals with these matters quickly and openly. Currently, the delays and secrecy give the appearance of just more cover-ups and more lies. That is not the image the church needs to be portraying.

Since American Catholic priests have become more involved in politics recently, particularly their open disagreement with the new health care reforms, the church needs openness to ensure its moral high ground. Scandals like these, which are easily prevented by swift, decisive disciplinary action and a willingness to deal with public concerns, can deal crushing blows to the rest of the church’s goals.

Like all organizations that project a message, the Catholic Church needs to ensure that its message matches its actions. Right now, sin is often seen as acceptable if leaders do it, but not if ordinary Catholics do it. If the church wants to avoid sending that message, it will have to change its approach to dealing with child molestation scandals and start opening up.

Our View is the consensus of The Crimson White’s editorial board.