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Abusing Their Power

The Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, in Florence, Italy. The Catholic Church is under scrutiny and question due to the abuse scandals (Photo courtesy of Allie Weber).

The Cathedral, also known as the Duomo, in Florence, Italy. The Catholic Church is under scrutiny and question due to the abuse scandals (Photo courtesy of Allie Weber).

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On August 14th, over 1000 reports of sexual abuse by priests and bishops were released in Pennsylvania, some dating back to over 70 years ago.

The Catholic faith is known for its leaders practicing celibacy, which is the state of abstaining from marriage and sexual relations; so how, might one wonder, are these priests and bishops consciously making the decision to sexually abuse children and young adults after taking a vow of abstinence before entering the priesthood? We cannot be certain of this answer. However, we are certain that these tragedies must stop.

Realistically, this is impossible. Once a priest or bishop is found guilty, he is not removed from their priesthood, but instead is simply moved to another parish or diocese, which only spreads the issue. Allowing this to happen, without any real consequences, portrays their actions as acceptable.

“I think the priest should be dismissed, because the Bible says that there would be wolves dressed in sheep clothing, and it doesn’t seem right to keep those kinds of people in our church.” says sophomore Natalie DeRosa.

Even though priests in the media are portrayed as “pedophiles”, the majority of church leaders could not imagine harming any child or young adult. In fact, only about five percent of the priests in the Catholic church have committed any form of sexual abuse.

While the topic of sexual abuse has mostly been centered around the Catholic Church, it is undoubtedly more common outside of the faith, and can be more common in other circumstances, such as age, gender, and social status.  According to The Children’s Assessment Center, children are victimized at a much higher rate than adults, women are five times more likely to be sexually abused, and children in low socioeconomic status households are three times more likely to be identified as a victim of sexual abuse.

Statistically, most abusers are male, and often esteemed leaders in society, such as churches, schools, clubs, and professional offices. The perpetrators, male or female, target trusting kids and families in order to get close to the child.

There are characteristics in an abuser that allow them to take advantage of the victim, without having to pry too much. On the other hand, the perpetrator will overtake the child in a given situation, in which the child can do nothing to prevent it.

“Some people have certain characteristics in their nature that cause them to easily be consumed in people’s lives, and constantly want to please people,” said sophomore Ana Sallurday.

Because the victimizer conceals his or her wrongdoings, it is often difficult to spot the signs, which can be both physical and emotional. The child’s experiences can often lead to more serious issues, such as, depression, anxiety, loss of appetite, and anger.

“We can’t treat them differently just because they had a horrible event happened to them. Most of the time they won’t want to be put into the spotlight, but wouldn’t want their situation to be completely ignored.” says sophomore Christian Malave.

However, one can do many small, but powerful things to offset these traumatic side effects: talking, choosing your language, and lending an ear. Sexual abuse is an important and serious issue that should be talked about and made light of.

“Making it ok to talk about [what happened] could greatly impact the victim’s lives. Even though it’s hard now, it’s not going to last forever,” said sophomore Abby McDonald.

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