“Uprooting this culture of death.” That is how Pope Francis described the challenge in front of the Roman Catholic Church, in a letter responding to the findings of Pennsylvania grand jury investigation into widespread sexual abuse of children at the hands of priests.
This hour, we try to make sense of a crisis of epidemic proportions laid bare by the grand jury’s report. Over 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children in dioceses across that state, in the course of seven decades. And these are just the latest findings in the growing record of sex abuse of children by Catholic priests in this country around the world.
The Pennsylvania investigation also made clearer than ever the degree to which bishops and other members of the church hierarchy were complicit in covering up and even aiding and abetting abuse. Can the Catholic Church fix a systemic culture of abuse that permeates from its lowest levels up into its leadership?
We ask a survivor, a lawyer, a theologian, a researcher, and a diocese representative -- how can the church end this crisis?
Are you a practicing Catholic? Has this affected your faith?
To report child abuse to the Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF), call 1-800-842-2288
National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-4-A-Child or 1-800-422-4453
- Gail Howard - Co-leader of the Connecticut chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
- Cindy Robinson - Partner at Tremont Sheldon Robinson Mahoney law firm in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She has represented many clergy child sex abuse survivors for more than two decades.
- Dr. Paul Lakeland - Aloysius P. Kelley, S.J., Professor of Catholic Studies and Director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University; he is also the president of the Catholic Theological Society of America
- Erin Neil - Founding director of Safe Environments for the Diocese of Bridgeport
- Jennifer Freyd - Professor of Psychology at University of Oregon and fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. She studies institutional betrayal
Where We Live invited the Hartford Archdiocese to appear on this program but they declined to participate.
Watch the full Pennsylvania Catholic Church sexual abuse grand jury report press conference:
Chion Wolf contributed to this show.