Belief systems

How the Catholic child abuse cases have affected the church

To what extent has the Catholic Church lost followers due to the recent child abuse cases?

The Catholic Church is part of the biggest religion in the world, Christianity. The Catholic Church has the most followers under the different groups of Christians. Yet what do Catholics believe in, in short, "We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages." (The Bible, Date unknown). The Catholics are often seen as strict Christians, yet they have been under fire from critics.


In the past few years, more and more child abuse cases have come to light. A child abuse report is given in nearly every ten seconds in the US (Childhelp, 2010). In 1998 the amount of children deaths per day due to neglect and abuse was at 3.13 yet in the next 12 years it would rise up all the way to 5 each day (Childhelp, 2010). Yet in the catholic church, strangely, the amount of child abuse cases are staggering. With millions of child abuse cases across the globe (exact number not known), it's surprising to see these numbers and cases in a religion that 1/7 of the world population follow, with 1.2 billion followers (Vatican's Annuarium Statisticum Ecclesiae, 2011). Most of the cases haven't even been reported yet as according to a study based in Australia, only 10% of the children that have been sexually assaulted normally report these cases (Judy Courtin, 21/09/2012). These cases to pop up and be so many in numbers in such a followed church must have a negative impact of followers, in fact in 2008 alone catholic membership decreased by 400,000 people (The Week Staff, April 30 2010). Even though it is unknown if these people left due to the cases, yet it can be speculated that many did. Of course there are many different factors effect the amount of followers especially when it comes to religion and faith. In the past 100 years the world has become smaller and smaller due to globalization. This may be the reason for all the people leaving the church, with technology advancing every day, its hard to keep to your culture, yet I'm sure there may be many cases of people leaving the church due to these cases.


Perspectives on a global scale

Catholic followers across the globe have been astounded by this issue, these cases come to a shock to many. With 1.2 billion followers, these cases have token their toll. In 2008 alone, compared to 2007, over 400 000 followers stop being believers in the catholic faith (The Week Staff, April 30 2010). Like mentioned in the context, if these people left due to the child abuse cases can only be speculated. Yet with some numbers it's more obvious then others that the cases of child abuse are to blame for lack of interest in the catholic church. For example in the mid 1990's when the first child abuse cases surfaced, church attendance dropped by 35%. These numbers help to prove that the catholic churches followers have been deeply affected by these cases.


The catholic must be one of the most injured groups that were affected by this issue. By losing not only followers across the globe but also respect. The pope himself was accused of hiding these cases. These cases were called, “the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history” (National Catholic Reporter), so its no surprise that the catholic church has heavily been affected. The catholic has lost thousands of followers due to the child abuse cases and has been shunned upon across the globe from their own followers. Also the amount of input on following their religion has dropped, for example church attendance dropped in the mid 1990's possibly due to the child abuse cases.


Africa's and Asia's catholic church followers haven't been affected at all, in fact there has been a drastic rise in catholic followers in Africa with 55 million followers in 1978 to 150 million in 2010 (The Week Staff, April 30 2010). An Ugandan church leader explained this rise as, “The church has provided, in many cases, the voice that stands on behalf of the voiceless.” (Rev. Emmanuel Katongole, Date unknown). In Asia the membership in the church has risen by 80% from 1978 to 2010 (The Week Staff, April 30 2010). And the amount of priest in Asia rose by 74% ,since 1978 to 2010, too. This could be because when the Catholic Church started to fail in the western countries they tried to reach out to the non-catholic countries so they could still have some influence in a modern, globalized world.


Picture of the christian symbol fish (Ichthus). ( Gary payne,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011)


Pespectives on local scale

Local:


The last pope, Pope Benedict the XVI, has been accused numerous times for helping to hide this cases inside of the Vatican. It's seen often as strange and unbelievable that the very leader of the catholic church has helped to keep these dark secrets covered up. Yet in the later years he said to have sent a message directly to Irish victims saying, “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.” The pope has lost respect due to his poor handling of these cases. As he barely did anything to prevent further child abuse cases and mostly only said sorry to the victims, instead of taking action against the ones to blame.


There are many different views and perspectives of the priest working for the Catholic Church. Many won't address the issue while others try to brush off the issue by saying things such as, “Abortion is much more serious than rape of children by priests.” (Fabio Martinez Castilla, Saturday 4th 2013). Of course this quote is only from one Archbishop yet other priests do the same thing except without doing it so extremely open and publicly. Priests have also lost respect due to these issue, from personal experience, especially among the young.


The current pope, Pope Francis has token more dramatic steps to put a halt to the the increase of child abuse. He showed his detest against these child abuse cases and showed that he wanted an end to it, by introducing a law in Vatican which, "specify sexual violence against children as a crime and impose tough penalties for staff who leak confidential Vatican information." (Catherine Hornby, 11 July 2013).

Pespectives on a personal scale


I was never a fan of religion and have never been very religious. Yet with these cases my point that religion is not for me has increased. I feel offended that people try to sweep this under the carpet instead of dealing with the problem head on, I am a fan of Pope Francis because, unlike Pope Benedict, he has done a action instead of saying sorry and trying to keep distance from the topic. These cases shocked me, especially as the Catholic church is supposed to be one of the strictest types of Christianity yet allows these horrible things to happen.What affected the most is the realization of how wide spread and big this subject is. There not just thousands of cases, but millions! This fact shocks me deeply.



Scenarios and Issues

Issues

Issue:

There has been a rise in child violation by Catholic priests.

What are some causes or conditions of this issue?

The church has not done much to stop these child abuse cases. The pope has tried to sweep them under the carpet instead of dealing with them upfront and trying to stop them. Thousands of cases haven't been dealt with by the church.


Issue:

Victims abused by priests don’t speak out until they are older, or don’t speak out at all.

What are some causes or conditions of this issue?

With many victims, they feel so violated and weak that they are too embarrassed to speak out about it. In fact in Australia, only 10% of the victims speak out. (Judy Courtin, 21/09/2012). Because of this there are still millions of cases that haven't been exposed yet, making hard to see the scale of these abuse cases.


Issue:

People are deciding to not follow the catholic faith.

What are some causes or conditions of this issue?

Due to technology being on a rise many theories in the bible are being questioned, especially the first testament as many stories in this book have been proven to be incorrect. Also these recent child abuse cases and making followers question the integrability of the catholic church.



Scenarios

Scenario:

The amount of catholic followers will drastically decrease.

Evidence:

In 2008 alone, 400 thousands people no longer considered themselves Catholics. This was one of the first years where these cases came to light on a massive scale.

How likely it will occur:

As these cases have already been coming to light for the last 60 years, the likelihood of there being a massive decline of followers is not very reasonable.

Course of Action:

The culprits could be more heavily punished. This would stop harassment in the future and punish the culprits of the past.


Scenario:

More victims will start to speak out about their child abuse experiences.

Evidence:

Over the last couple of years more and more percentage of victims have spoken out.

How likely it will occur:

This is quite likely to happen as people with these problems have been helped and treated for their health.

Course of Action:

If someone speaks out there could be more attention, in a positive way, to raise awareness and to make other victims realize the importance of speaking out.


Scenario:

In the next few years there will be a big incline in child abuse cases.

Evidence:

There have been more and more cases coming to light in the last 60 years.

How likely it will occur:

It is very likely that more of these cases will be reported yet the chance that the child abuse continues on such a large scale is lower than before as these priests have been getting a lot of heat due to these cases.

Course of Action:

Continue the pressure on priests to guide them away from abusing children and support the victims.




To what extent has the Catholic Church lost followers due to the recent child abuse cases?

From my point of view I believe that the Catholic church has been affected deeply and the image of the church, the priests and all how follow the faith, irreparably changed. This change can be traced back quiet clearly to the 1960's, where the first waves of child abuse cases came to light. The National Catholic Reporter calls it, "the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history." Ever since, four American Catholic born leave the the church for every one American that has converted. (Pew Study, 2009) Millions have lost faith since the 1960's with thousands of people leaving every year, in fact in 2008 over 400,000 thousands members of the catholic church left it's service. (Week Staff, April 30 2010). In the last 14 years of 9,000 priests have stopped working for the catholic church (Week Staff, April 30 2010), so its obvious that there has been a change. If the child abuse cases are the reasons for this sudden drop of membership is unknown yet one can guess that these cases are fairly certainly one of the main reasons for leaving the membership of the church. Overall I believe the Catholic has been hit hard due to these cases, and may never get back to its old status, at least in Europe and the U.S. Yet I'm fairly certain that the membership will rise again, in Africa and Asia especially.