After the earthquake: Five reasons for hope after the sexual abuse scandal

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America Magazine


The study of sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in the United States since 1950, which was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, is scheduled for release during February 2004. This comprehensive study surveyed all Catholic dioceses in the United States about sexual abuse by members of the clergy. The report will likely cause another sizable earthquake in the church, as it will reveal many disturbing details about sexual abuse by Catholic clergymen. The report should receive a great deal of media and public attention as well as highlight the extent of the problem. It may be shocking and upsetting to read. In the spirit of earthquake preparedness (I am writing this from California, after all), I would like to outline five reasons for hope in anticipation of the release of this important report. But before doing so, it may be helpful to review briefly the recent earthquake activity in the Catholic Church in the United States.