In light of the grave crisis of sexual misconduct within our Church, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, has acknowledged the issue, stating, “Our Church is suffering from a crisis of sexual morality. The way forward must involve learning from past sins.” While this recognition is crucial, it is not enough to stop at moral failing. This blog emphasizes the pressing need to go further by addressing both moral transgressions and the criminal nature of these acts. By doing so, we confront the harms inflicted upon victims and affirm our commitment to justice and the rights of survivors.
Moving Beyond Moral Failing
Acknowledging moral failing is important, but it is equally critical to recognize that the actions within our Church go beyond mere moral transgressions. Sexual misconduct and abuse represent criminal behavior, causing deep and lasting harm to victims. To truly address this crisis, we must expand our understanding to encompass the criminal aspect and acknowledge the urgency for justice.
Defining Sin and Crime
To comprehend the gravity of the crisis, we must define sin and crime. Sin involves actions that violate religious or moral principles, leading to spiritual and moral consequences. In the context of sexual abuse, it betrays trust, inflicts harm, and violates human dignity. On the other hand, crimes are legal transgressions that harm individuals or society. Sexual abuse qualifies as a sin and a crime due to its devastating impact on survivors and the broader community. This dual nature demands a comprehensive response addressing both the moral and legal dimensions.
The Interconnectedness of Sin and Crime
Sexual abuse represents a unique intersection of sin and crime, intertwining moral and legal implications. It profoundly violates moral and ethical standards, inflicting immense harm on survivors and their loved ones. Simultaneously, it is a criminal act that infringes upon the rights and safety of individuals. Recognizing this interconnectedness underscores the urgency of addressing survivor needs, pursuing justice, and fostering societal change. By understanding the profound harm in both moral and legal terms, we can strive for a comprehensive approach that promotes healing, accountability, and prevention.
Demanding Accountability for Criminal Acts
We must demand accountability for the criminal acts committed within our Church. Merely acknowledging moral failure without pursuing legal consequences perpetuates harm and denies justice to survivors. Holding individuals accountable for their criminal actions is crucial for survivor well-being, preventing future abuses, and restoring faith in our institution.
The Harms Inflicted on Victims
The lack of justice for crimes within our Church exacerbates the suffering of victims. Without accountability, survivors are denied validation, closure, and healing opportunities. The absence of justice perpetuates a system that silences their pain, deepens trauma, and impedes their recovery. Our moral duty is to stand up for survivors’ rights and ensure they receive the justice they deserve.
Restoring Justice for Victims
Securing justice for victims requires proactive measures. This includes holding perpetrators accountable, providing support and resources for survivors, and advocating for legal avenues to seek justice. By centering survivor needs and demanding accountability, we take significant steps toward restoring justice and rebuilding trust within our Church.
Addressing sexual misconduct in the Church demands a comprehensive response beyond moral failing. While Cardinal DiNardo’s recognition is a starting point, we must go further to address the criminal nature of these acts. TentMakers, as advocates for systemic change within the Catholic Church, play a vital role in this pursuit. With a commitment to the safety and well-being of all, TentMakers tirelessly works to create a morally upright and safe Church. By holding the Church accountable and advocating for necessary reforms, we strive toward a future where justice prevails, survivors find healing and validation, and our Church becomes a beacon of compassion and accountability. Together, with TentMakers leading the way, we can forge a path toward a transformed Church that upholds justice, fosters healing, and safeguards the dignity of every individual.
In the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, it is disheartening to note that the Diocese self-reported 37 men who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult. However, the lack of criminal charges and convictions in most cases is deeply concerning. Only two of the 37 accused individuals have been convicted of sexually abusing children and received jail time. It is essential to acknowledge that further investigations into the self-reporting by other dioceses have often revealed a higher number of accused individuals than initially self-reported by those dioceses. While we cannot ascertain if this is true of the Diocese of Lafayette, it highlights the need for transparency, accountability, and independent investigations to ensure justice for survivors and prevent future abuses.