How has the current sexual abuse crisis challenged your faith?  

(UniversalImagesGroup/Getty) 

In response to our informal survey, conducted from Aug. 1 to Aug. 19, 62 percent of respondents told America that the current sexual abuse crisis has changed how they see the church.  

“My faith in the church is being significantly challenged,” wrote Kathy Emrich of Voorhees, N.J. “My faith in Jesus Christ is unchanged. I pray for the church and the bishops. I truly want there to be zero tolerance for abusers in the church and zero tolerance for those that enable and condone abusive behaviors.”  

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Some people said that they had not been attending Mass since hearing recent revelations of sex abuse by priests and their cover-up by church leaders. Emily Baroz of New York, N.Y., wrote: “I am torn between a desire to receive the Eucharist and a strong aversion to supporting the institution of the church. For the first time, I have doubts that the church can really perform the miracle of the Eucharist. I have missed multiple Masses on purpose for the first time in my life.”  

Others mentioned that they appreciated statements issued by Pope Francis. “The outpouring of support for the victims and the sorrow expressed by Pope Francis and other Catholics including priests has strengthened my faith. I am reading suggestions for positive change and ignoring homophobic accusations [against priests],” said Jennifer DeSena of Manhasset, N.Y.  

The words of parish priests appeared to be especially meaningful, although only 19 percent of respondents said they had heard about the abuse crisis at Mass. “After Mass our pastor read a statement from our bishop and added his personal words of sorrow and pain, and he asked for our prayers. It was moving,” wrote Ms. DeSena.  

“I have not heard any homilies about the current abuse crisis, but I wish our pastors would talk about it,” said Carol Goodson of Carrollton, Ga.  

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
A Fielder
2 months 3 weeks ago

The survey also asked each respondent to compare his or her current reaction to the experiences of the 2002 scandal. If the editors are willing to share what they have learned, I would be curious to know this answer to this question.

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

How has the current sexual abuse crisis challenged your faith

Why should this even be a question? Why should one's faith be affected by how others have behaved? It should be based on our beliefs. If our faith as adults is affected by the behavior of others, then maybe it is our beliefs that should be questioned. If one believes in The Way, The Truth and The Life, another's action no matter how horrendous should not matter.

J Cosgrove
2 months 3 weeks ago

I was at a Mass a couple weeks ago said by the priest in charge of a seminary. The first thing he did was address the crisis since he oversaw the seminarians.

sheila gray
2 months 3 weeks ago

It has strengthened my faith in everything, mainly the power of truth and love to guide us all on the road into the future. I feel as a survivor that much of my damage was suffered at the hands of my silent and dismissive teachers, fellow students, Alumni and the leaders of the religious order of nuns (the RSCJ’s) who continue to wound with their Silence...

rose-ellen caminer
2 months 3 weeks ago

It's one thing to be angry, hurt, devastated by the betrayal, at the church clerical institution, but to have your faith in God, challenged by only this, or even primarily by this, over all the other evil that men do, over all the other suffering there is in the world, I don't get.[ Not talking about actual victims of the abuse as any trauma can challenge or eliminate a persons faith]. If your faith is challenged only or primarily because of this, it's either shallow, self centered[ only evil in the church has such power as the rest of the world does not quite count ] or, in saying this you are weaponing your once professed faith. You are just lashing out at the clergy; passive aggressive; it's payback time clergy; see what you've done; I don't even believe in God, or in Jesus Christ because of you! A cop out.[IMO]

michelle Ralph
2 months 3 weeks ago

When we were baptized, God claimed us as priest, prophet and king. We are all on the path to holiness. The Eucharist each week is Jesus’ promise to us that He will never abandon us. As faithful laity, myself included, I have not fully understood the holy power bestowed upon me by God in my Baptism. Satan, and I believe he is very real, desires that I forget my Baptismal vocation. The Church is part of my royal tradition as a daughter of the King. Unfortunately, the Chutch has taken on aspects of royal secularism and it has come out as filthy and evil. I believe that it will continue to vomit out this disease for years to come. I will continue striving to be rooted in my faith, to be watchful and discerning about those in sacramental and ministry “power” and help our Lord spread his Good Word while rooting out the rot. I can only do that if I put complete trust in Our Lady and the Holy Spirit. It feels like it’s too much and too far away for meaningful impact. I don’t doubt that. But I truly believe that we have good and holy priests and seminarians who needs us desperately as well as victims of heinous abuse who need us to perform a collective reparation for the Church’s repugnant sins. Those who performed those abuses need both justice and mercy. This is such a dark time and I truly believe that a light, albeit a dim one now, is penetrating the darkness. I will continue to pray daily for victims and for the souls of those priests eho committed heinous crimes. During the 54 day novena, at the Sorrowful Meditation, we petition Mary for the virtue to love our enemies. So so incredibly difficult when those priests, so despicable and rotten to their core, disposed of child souls with depraved appetites. I have cried over this and I long for their earthly or heavenly healing. I want to let them know that they are loved beyond measure due to their Baptism but I feel inadequate, beyond daily pray intercessions, to do more. However, in The Soul of the Apostalate, prayer is primarily powerful and transformative before the works of good deeds. I believe that every bishop should commit to prayer and fasting and lead the laity to transform from within guided by the Holy Spirit. Then, and only then, rush to get to bureaucratic meetings to fix the problem. First things first. The Holy Spirit, as always and unfailingly, will guide us.

Franklin Uroda
2 months 2 weeks ago

It's like I'm driving from south Florida to Nome, Alaska in the best car ever made. On the way the engine develops problems, so I halt the journey and take it to the company's expert mechanics thinking that if anyone knows what to do, they will. They patch up my regal roadster, and I return to the road, North to Alaska. Along the way the car again develops problems and I repeat the process of repair. The new mechanics discover that the former workers were incompetent and re-do the shoddy work. I again get into the cleaned up vehicle and make it all the way to Nome, and back to Florida with no further problems. I love it even more than I did before. Hopefully, something like this will happen to the Barque of Peter.

Nicholas Clifford
2 months 2 weeks ago

Challenge my faith in Christianity? No; why should it? Challenge my faith in the Roman Catholic Church? Of course; the real question is whether the Church, at least as exemplified by the behavior of many of its leaders, has itself lost the faith, or at least the faith it should have. The advances of the Dallas Charter of 2002 seem to have come not because of a sudden attack of Christian conscience, but because of the reporting of the Boston Globe, National Catholic Reporter and the news media in general. Too bad that it took fear of exposure to nspire what basic Christian values demanded. And I don't mean to say it is all "their" fault. It is ours too, for our reluctance to criticize and question ann often corrupt leadership. I hope the seminaries all give a course like Basic Christian Ethics 101. If not, perhaps they should. Three cheers for Bp. Scharfenberger and his call for a lay investigation. I hope many of his colleagues have the courage to back him.

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