New details are emerging about the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal that has rocked the church. The diocese of Brooklyn, New York, has agreed to pay $27.5 million to four men who were sexually abused as boys by their religion teacher.
The archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Donald Wuerl, is also reportedly set to resign. These developments come after a Pennsylvania grand jury report accused Wuerl of not doing enough to deal with pedophile priests when he ran the Pittsburgh diocese.
“CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor recently sat down with a group of Catholics in Pennsylvania to discuss how the scandal has affected their faith.
Jeff Glor: How many of you feel betrayed by church leadership right now?
[Show of hands]
Glor: So all six.
Leah Arndt: Wouldn’t you be angry if you were really a great priest and these people were, like, hurting your livelihood? I don’t see that anger anywhere. I, like, I would be angry if I had given up my life for the church and taken all these vows and this was my calling from God. I would be angry that people were hurting my profession and at the very least and children. You know, and the church.
Glor: Kathleen, you have three young boys.
Kathleen Hoagland: Mmm-hmm.
Glor: Do you feel as though you can raise three young boys in the Catholic Church?
“CBS Evening News” anchor Jeff Glor speaks to a panel of Pennsylvania Catholics.
Hoagland: That’s a question I’m grappling with, definitely. But I would like them to be raised in the church. The church needs to change.
Glor: You think it is changing?
Hoagland: Not right now.
Glor: What needs to happen?
Hoagland: I think starting at the way top, you know, the pope said recently that we need to be fasting, praying in silence and I think that’s not enough. I think that there needs to be very strong action taken. It needs to happen immediately and it needs to start at the top.
Glor: Richara, when you saw the headlines come out from the grand jury report, what was your reaction?
Richara Krajewski: I was heartbroken, devastated. Just really, like, viscerally sick.
Glor: Are you leaving the church?
Krajewski: Uh, no.
Glor: It’s interesting that this was so difficult for you to process and hits you so hard but you’re firm that there’s no way you’re leaving.
Krajewski: I find the church helped me to think about what the good life meant for me and gave me a real hope. And that’s very, very difficult to walk away from.
Glor: Jim, your thoughts?
Jim Maguire: I think that the Catholic Church is at a crossroads in its life and the Catholic Church has to step up to the fact that the leadership is flawed. We have to waive the statute of limitations on pedophile priests and put them in jail in order to correct the problem that exists in the Catholic Church.
Front row from left to right: Kyle McLemore, Kathleen Hoagland, Richara Krajewski. Back row from from right to left: Jim Maguire, Sandra Del Cueto, Leah Arndt.
Glor: I feel like people have said this before though, that the Catholic Church is at a crossroads. Whether it was after Boston and what happened in Massachusetts…
Maguire: But I think it’s going to change now.
Glor: Sandra, you think that’s true?
Sandra Del Cueto: I’m hoping it’s true. Actually, I just came back to the church after a 30-year lapse and I thought I found a safe space and I started trusting the church again, and then all of a sudden I hear this and I lost my trust.
Arndt: I already had my faith shaken and I already spent a good deal of time trying to, you know, to marry my religion with the morals I hoped I would see in the church.
Glor: Are you staying? Are you leaving?
Arndt: I just haven’t been able to get my heart into it and with this latest scandal I feel like it might be the heartbreak I needed to finally just move.
Kyle McLemore: To just throw out the baby with the bathwater — that’s my worry that this scandal has caused, and it was caused by us, it was caused by our leadership.
Maguire: I think the Catholic Church has got to break up the good ol’ boys society that exists here where it’s very political. Everybody that gets promoted and that’s what they do, they get promoted. They’re political.
Glor: So how do you turn that around?
Maguire: Well I think you gotta let priests get married. You gotta let women come into the church as pastors. That’s step number one and you can do a little bit at a time.
Glor: If the Catholic Church makes dramatic, wholesale changes, is it still the Catholic Church?
Kyle McLemore: Every time we seem to have given up some of our core tenants, we’ve just declined.
Maguire: I don’t think we’re talking about changing the basic tenants of the Catholic Church when we’re talking about changing some of the leadership. The leadership is flawed.
McLemore: I agree with you, Jim.
Maguire: And I think you change the leadership by opening the — celibacy is unnatural. Priests should get married. They shouldn’t have to be locked in a room by themselves.
Glor: Show of hands, how many of you believe priests should be allowed to marry?
[Three people raise hands]
Glor: Three-three split.
Del Cueto: I think, yes, the church needs to make changes. I don’t agree with some of the changes that have been mentioned. I think they’re too drastic and I don’t believe also that any of the tenants of the church, of the mission of the church, is the problem. The mission of the church lies on the people, on the faithful.
Hoagland: There has to be massive reform in the church right now. I do think that if priests were allowed to marry and I think that if women were allowed to be priests, this would make a huge dent in what is going on right now. You know, this kind of abuse and the clericalism has gone on for centuries. And I think that this needs to be addressed.
Glor: Because of the rules, because fundamentally of…
Hoagland: Yes, it’s the culture.
Glor: The way the church is set up.
Hoagland: Absolutely. It’s the current culture of the church. So priests are the be all and end all. Pope, be all and end all. Bishops, be all and end all. Cardinals. We don’t question their authority.
Glor: But part of this has always been typically that the church, I think in some cases, feels like it could handle these issues better than police or prosecutors or someone else, right?
Cueto: They’ve been told that they can feel that power, that they have that power and someone needs to tell them that they don’t. That the power is among us.
Arndt: I’ve had other Catholic mothers say that they wish they had been more outspoken. If the change is going to happen it’s going to be with us.
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