The Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex

O7XMWDFCLAI6RDUHZBU744FHEESource: The Washington Post

The crisis of the Catholic Church is not a matter for Catholics only.

Love it or hate it — or anywhere in between — this is one of the most important, influential institutions in world history, with boots on the ground in every corner of the world. Its good works are monumental. No agency, I suspect, has built more schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, orphanages and clinics. No patron has inspired and endowed more masterpieces of music, art, architecture and literature.

Its scandals and sins are monumental as well; no adequate accounting of the past millennium could be written without the Reformation, the Inquisition or the trial of Galileo. That’s why the voluminous report by the Pennsylvania grand jury on coverups of alleged sexual assaults by priests is so important.

Nothing in the report, not even the child pornography or the sadism, is new. Attentive Catholics and outside observers have been reading about clergy abuse and scofflaw bishops since the 1980s, when investigative reporter Jason Berry exposed the scandal of a serial molester in the diocese of Lafayette, La. Paul Hendrickson, then of The Post, detailedhis own experience of sexual humiliation as a teenager while training to be a priest in his 1983 memoir “Seminary.” Journalist Carl Cannon wrote presciently in 1987: “The church’s reluctance to address the problem is a time bomb waiting to detonate within American Catholicism.”

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