Can the Church Redeem Itself?

We’ve all heard about this string of church-related sex abuse allegations that are currently dominating the headlines. With new reports and accusations coming in every day, Pope Benedict XVI is being forced into a media frenzy whether he wants it or not, and his validity as a religious leader is coming into question.
In the past, critics within the church could be brushed off with two words: “papal infallibility.” But for many, this argument no longer holds any water. More and more Catholics are beginning to question the way the Vatican handles these matters, and an ever-growing gap is forming within the Catholic community between those who want answers and those who don’t.

Unfortunately, sex abuse scandals within the Catholic church are nothing new, and in the past these sorts of cases were usually swept under the rug, blamed on “a few bad apples” in an otherwise holy organization. But the sheer number of incidents in various places around the world in this latest wave of allegations simply cannot be ignored.

Is the church in danger of collapsing under the weight of this issue? Some argue that Catholicism is simply too old and outdated for our modern world. Others insist that such old-world systems are necessary to keep humanity’s moral fiber intact. In either case, the Pope needs to address several issues if the church wants to regain favor with the majority of the public. Here are a few ideas:

  • 1) A thorough investigation of the sex-abuse allegations needs to be carried out, not by the Vatican, but by Interpol or the United Nations. This will help to prevent any suspicions that the Vatican is covering something up, and will also allow the church to distance itself from the accused. By showing their support for bringing these criminals to justice, the Vatican cannot be criticized for “protecting pedophiles,” as they have been in the past.
  • 2) A serious look into allowing women to be priests. Many critics call the policy of allowing only men to serve as priests sexist and outdated, and it’s exactly the sort of thing preventing the church from successfully integrating itself into the new millennium. By establishing equilibrium between the sexes within the structure of the church, a sense of family values can be reinforced.
  • 3) If the perpetrators of these crimes are convicted, the Pope should publicly and loudly denounce their actions and excommunicate them from the Catholic church, as punishment in addition to whatever legal consequences they will face after being tried.
  • 4) The Catholic church needs to show greater support for the victims in these cases by donating and raising more funds to organizations that help children overcome abuse and find the courage to speak out.
  • 5) Finally, the church should reevaluate its position on requiring members of the clergy to remain celibate. Allowing priests to marry and have relationships would certainly attract more young people to the calling, and would make the Church more appealing to those who now criticize it as being too old-fashioned and strict.