Over the weekend, a big new story out of Philadelphia focused on sexual abuse allegations against a prominent priest, Father John P. Paul. The investigation looking into the accusations that he abused several children going back more than 40 years. He was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. Five others were removed from their post for sexually abusing children. One of them, Reverend Michael Chapman, faced new allegations after he was cleared and preparing to return to his priest duties. Thinking about the timeline, this would mean he committed this new act of abuse while he was being investigated. Where there’s smoke there’s fire. Though he was cleared in the earlier investigation, the subsequent investigation was deemed substantiated. Why was he allowed access to these children if he was under investigation for molesting children? Was there any mandate that he have no contact with children? It really is a sad situation. As painful as this can be for children and their families, I hope that any additional victims are courageous enough to step forward. That’s the only way to hold these monsters accountable.
The church is supposed to provide a source of support, counsel, and sanctuary for families and children. Parents offer their kids to priests and other members of the clergy to help them, guide them, and be available to support them through good and bad times. It’s got to be doubly painful to have someone presumably trusted and honorable betray that trust and behave in such a dishonorable way. It’s no wonder that many are leaving the church. The church will continue to be a dying institution unless it’s cleaned up from top to bottom.