Posted by: L. E. Barnes | June 1, 2010

Staying Loyal

A recent poll shows that most American Catholics are staying in the Church despite the sex abuse scandal. Reuters reports that

Only 12 percent, or one out of eight Roman Catholics, is reevaluating ties to the church following reports of child sexual abuse, the 60 Minutes/Vanity Fair survey showed. The number was similar among members of all faiths in the United States, in contrast to Germany, where about a quarter of German Catholics were considering leaving the church over the abuse allegations.

In recent months, child abuse allegations against Catholic priests have roiled Europe, forcing resignations of bishops in Ireland, Belgium and Germany, in the biggest crisis in Benedict’s five-year pontificate.

Pope Benedict met victims of abuse by priests during his April 2008 visit to the United States. The U.S. church has paid $2 billion in settlements to victims since 1992.

Perhaps I should feel encouraged that most Catholics in my country aren’t jumping ship, yet I’m saddened over the 12% who are contemplating leaving. And the news from Germany is especially disturbing, especially considering the already low percentage of practicing Christians left in western Europe. As God told David after the Israelite kind committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed, his actions had brought great dishonor to the Lord’s name. And as the Catechism acknolwedges, sometimes Christians themselves have to take responsibility for turning people away from Christ. I wonder if those pervert priests would have–or even could have–restrained themselves if they had known their actions would cause so much damage not only to their victims but to the Church as a whole.

May the Lord forgive the offenders, heal the victims, and revive His Church.



  1. Amen.

  2. […] Staying Loyal […]

  3. More remarkable to me are the many converts who continue to swim the Tiber in spite of the Scandal. I just today after Mass met a family of 5 including the former Southern Baptist preacher father, who are on their way into the Church. The scandal is not a dealbreaker for such people.

    • Yes, I too am grateful for those who come into the Church (or “swim the Tiber” as you said) despite the scandal. I didn’t let it keep me from becoming Catholic, and thankfully many others don’t let it stop them either.

  4. I think the sexual abusers are so enslaved I don’t think they can think past their next victim. These are truly tortured souls. It shows the social aspect of sin – how what is done in secret eventually comes out and hurts a lot of people. And if 12% of Catholics are thinking of leaving the Church over this, they can’t have a good understanding of the sacraments, penance, suffering and taking up the Cross. We have major evangelizing to do amongst our members.

    • Barb,
      You’re exactly right. I like something Peter Kreeft (a former Protestant who became Catholic) once said about ecumenism. He remarked that once Catholics are evangelized, then the work of ecumenism could truly take place. After all, it’s not that the Catholic Church doesn’t have the truth; rather, the problem is the number of Catholics who lack spiritual vitality and/or do not have a good grasp of their faith. Thus, they’ll bolt for other churches, or no church at all, because they think they have to go elsewhere to find the truth.

  5. Yes, I agree with you, Evan – the ones who leave the Church are the ones who don’t have a strong faith to begin with. Ongoing spiritual formation is so important. It needs to begin early in a child’s life and continue till the end of life.

    • It’s sad to see Catholics leaving the Church because they’ve come to the (misguided) conclusion that other sects have the true gospel or that Christianity is a lie. I’ve been told that the faith formation of most cradle Catholics ends after confirmation. It really has to be a lifelong process, not just something they get during childhood or adolescence.

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