Religion is meant to give a person hope, answers to unavoidable questions, and reasons to stay alive; years of torment from someone’s childhood should not be an event that should be faced in a person of faith. The Roman Catholic Church has been the culprit for a substantial amount of sexual abuse cases towards the religious youth. Numerous cases have been reported, mainly from the victim themselves, of astonishing acts that the clergy of the Church has made. The priests of many Catholic Churches have abused their roles and used their power to take advantage of children and to molest and rape the innocent. It only makes it worse, that the Church has been covering these actions for so long.
Rand Cooper attended a Catholic school for less than three years, not being religious himself, always felt out of place, being bullied and treated differently. Cooper, at the time, did not find it all that odd when a beloved priest seemed fond of him. Looking back as an adult, he now views the situation differently, seeing the potential danger he was in as a young boy, who was happy to receive any form of attention. As children, the other adults in the school, specifically a nun named Sister Helen, could most likely sense there was something less innocent than a fondness of a priest and a student going on.
When being called to see Father M multiple times, she would give Cooper strange looks but still send him off anyway. Father M had constant and out of term discussions with Cooper, even at one point asking him how he would feel if they were to talk about nocturnal emissions in school; Cooper at the time was twelve years old when the Father asked him. A man of Father M’s age, if he was not mentally disturbed and pedophilic, would know that to ask a child about such topics; but instead he took advantage of Cooper’s naivety.
Religion thrives off people’s beliefs in events that can’t necessarily be proven. Its foundation is hope. So the fact that the Catholic Church would want to hide abuse cases and protect their priests, who are hugely respected, is understandable. However, what can’t be overlooked, is the number of cases. “In the past 35 years, there were 1,880 alleged perpetrators from more than 1,000 Catholic entities” (Catholic Church, 2017). How have these priests been able to get away with this?
The Church hides hundreds of pedophiles and the victims who are hurt by them. These priests use their stature as a weapon to persuade their victims into believing what they are doing is acceptable. The abused children believe that the child should feel safe with the priests because they know him. These innocent children are taken advantage of, and many of them grow to blame themselves as adults, leading many of them into depression and even suicide. “A blistering grand-jury report in 2005 exposed the abuse of hundreds of children by more than 60 Archdiocesan (district) priests, lamenting that the church’s cover-up had succeeded since the statute of limitations made it impossible to prosecute the predators” (More Shame, 2011). The Church is succeeding in concealing the sexual assaults that they have caused. It’s them who are allowing hundreds of children grow victim, which inevitably hurts the Church itself.
Many people have their arguments as to why the priests are not the only ones at fault, pointing blame to the children in these crimes. In many instances, saying that the children “seduced them” into committing such acts. “You become, for a moment, a player. I understood Father M was taking a risk, talking about occurrences that could get him in trouble in the world outside. Uttering those words was my first conscious experience of dealing with adults from a position of strength; of having leverage; of wielding power. It was intensely pleasurable. He was victimizing me, but I felt powerful” (Cooper, 2002).
Children, not only from religious backgrounds, are naturally naive to anyone they can deem trustworthy. Priests can use this aspect to manipulate the child into believing that the physical or mental sexual assaults are a natural event that should happen between the two. Also, because of the priest’s high status anyone who can or does know about what is happening to a child is forced to hold their tongues or are too scared to go against the father, fearing they would be going against God himself.
The awareness of predators and their actions need to no longer be a secret. The Church believes that because they are a religious organization that they are above the law and that no one can do anything to stop the abuse they inflict upon those children. If priests continue to get away with these horrific acts and use their position as a threat itself, that have affected thousands of lives, fear will become a bigger aspect in the Church, more than it already is.