Thousands of cases of sexual abuse are a bleeding open wound in the Catholic Church. In fact, it is considered the greatest scourge in decades, as the Vatican refused to act forcefully for many years.
Complaints against priests and religious leaders have not ceased since the scandal of sexual abuse came to light in the diocese of Boston in 2001, as it was well illustrated in the Oscar-winning film Spotlight.
In the movie, the producers portray a group of degenerate priests who shamelessly abused children for many years, while lawyers made it a business to hide the abuses against those children; and that is only in Boston.
The Vatican has received more than 6,000 complaints of child abuse in the last decade, an average of about 600 cases per year. Of that total, at least half were minors.
The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, an organ created by the Vatican, studied between 2004 and 2013 “3,420 cases of abuse of minors”, ie, more than half of the complaints.
Since 2004, when 800 complaints were received, more than 848 religious leaders have been expelled and “disrobed”, according to the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Children, established by Pope Francis, who has tried to coordinate the response of the Church in this great problem.
It takes the Vatican many years to investigate cases of child abuse against religious leaders. While those investigations take place, very few priests are suspended, and instead are moved from one parish to another, where they may continue with their abuse.
Pope Francis has said that a few months ago he had to appoint a third deputy secretary of the Congregation to deal exclusively with these cases.
“We cannot cope,” he admitted on the flight back from Mexico, where he made it clear that there is no room in the Church for abusers and their accomplices. However, the Church maintains those accused of sexual abuse within its structure, as supposed to, for example, suspending them while the investigations takes place.
The Vatican’s response to thousands of cases of child abuse has been less than serious, as it has not dedicated enough resources to solving the thousands of accusations against members of the Church. The Congregation, which is composed by a handful of people, who the Pope personally trusts, isn’t enough to deal with the mounting evidence of sexual abuses of minors.
There may be thousands of other cases that are not investigated by the Church or by civil authorities due to the lack of resources directed to combating abuses committed by priests against minors all over the planet.