"What does it take to make someone walk away from the Catholic Church?"
That's the question posed by one Richard Greener, award-winning essayist, on today's Huffington Post.
Perhaps a Catholic mother or father in the United States might say that these despicable and unfortunate incidents are few and far between - sort of a "not in my parish" kind of defense. Do the facts support this?
The five biggest settlements made by the Catholic Church in the United States are (remember, this is money paid by the Church to victims of sexual abuse by priests): $660 million in Los Angeles; $157 million in Boston; $129 million in Portland, OR; $100 million in Orange County; $85 million in Covington, KY. Thousands of victims. Coast-to-coast. North and south. More than $1.3 billion, willingly paid by the Church to avoid civil trials. Few and far between? Not in whose parish?
Maybe, after seeing and accepting that sexual abuse by Catholic priests is widespread in the United States, these same Catholic parents might say that this is not essentially a church problem; it's an American problem. That might work, for a while. But, what does one say about the current state of Catholic priest sex scandals in Ireland, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, The Netherlands and Spain? Or Brazil, which has the most Catholics of any nation? Or, on the other side of the world in Australia and New Zealand? What about Canada? All of these countries, plus others, have had sex scandals involving priests and young boys. A Church problem, not a national problem. And now the cover-up reaches into the highest echelons of the Vatican itself?
Not few and not far between. Sadly instead, sexual abuse of boys by Catholic priests is seemingly often and everywhere.