Catholic World News

Historian says scandal sapped strength of Catholic witness in US

July 30, 2012

Historian Philip Jenkins suggests that the Catholic Church might be opening new parishes all over America today, if not for the devastating financial impact of the sex-abuse scandal.

Jenkins argues convincingly that Catholic prelates have been hampered in their public role as teachers on some critical issues—particularly on same-sex marriage—because the scandal made it so uncomfortable for Church leaders to speak out on issues involving human sexuality (and so easy for their critics to question the bishops’ standing as moral arbiters). But the historian goes on to suggest that the early 21st century might have seen a new expansion of Catholic influence, if not for the lawsuits that sapped the strength of so many dioceses. “One result of the crisis, then, is the catastrophic weakening of the nation's wealthiest religious body.”

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  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - Jul. 31, 2012 6:03 PM ET USA

    Perhaps being stripped of its wealth is a good thing for the Church/it forces the church back to what Jesus taught. Jesus never told anyone to accumulate excessive weallth here on earth - that was not the direction for his Apostles. It shouldn't be the direction for our priests and Bishops today. The work of the Church is to evangelize and to save souls. Nothing should stop the work of God - especially not money.!

  • Posted by: - Jul. 31, 2012 7:38 AM ET USA

    "catastrophic weakening" Oh, bosh. What utter nonsense. As though the Church's power can be measured in bank accounts.

  • Posted by: Jim.K - Jul. 30, 2012 8:34 PM ET USA

    When will they learn? It's NOT about the money! It's NOT about the property! It's NOT about "stuff"! It's about lack of TRUST by those inside and outside of the Church. When will our Bishops get off the couch and start preaching the TRUTH in the public square -- even if that means they lose a federal grant or have to close a hospital or university that does not adhere to the Faith?!

  • Posted by: rpp - Jul. 30, 2012 8:31 PM ET USA

    With respect to Contrary1995, I disagree on some important points. While it is true that it is the Holy Spirit who moves people to conversion, these same people must be open to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit. When that voice is drowned out by events or distorted to the hearer by other news, that small quiet voice can be lost on the listener. This is why the sin of scandal is so grave; a sin that has overwhelmed the Church in the USA, Ireland, Canada other European countries.

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Jul. 30, 2012 5:37 PM ET USA

    The Holy Spirit opens new churches not bank accounts. The idea that God has lost out because of scandal is nonsense. St. Josemaria pointed out long ago that God does not lose any battles. Good friday and the Renaissance papacy did not stop the Gospel's spread nor will a sex scandal and cover-up.