I am sickened and saddened by news of Chicago Jesuit priests, an order of the Catholic Church, committing and hiding sex crimes. As Catholics, my family and I are stakeholders in the Catholic Church. As parents, we all want to protect our children from any wrong doing, especially one this ugly on every level.
I am so deeply sorry for everyone who was subject to anything inappropriate by anyone ranging from authority figures to peers – it is never ok. People who are brave enough to come forward and share their story are to be commended. I cannot imagine how maddening it must be to carry that hurt with you.
As painful as sex crime news is to hear, I am glad it has been surfacing the last number of years. Hopefully the news will help prevent them from recurring. One Jesuit priest recently highlighted in the news is currently serving 25 years in a federal prison. Those victims deserve to receive payouts from recent settlements even though that cannot possibly be enough. The financial consequences can also help everyone (collective organizations and individuals) be held more accountable. Meanwhile, I live in fear of what we’ll learn tomorrow. I hope those who knows about these types of crimes will continue to come forward to build awareness and help stop them from happening.
As the product of a Catholic (Jesuit) education, I had no knowledge of sex crimes. My siblings and I all attended Saint Ignatius College Prep, a Chicago Jesuit high school. My Dad attended Loyola Academy for high school when that priest found guilty of committing sex crimes taught. My brother graduated from Loyola University and my Dad teaches there. The Jesuits also educated my husband, his siblings and lots of our friends at Marquette University and other Jesuit schools. I am deeply disappointed, but still hold the Jesuits in the highest regard.
In fact, I just received an email (as did all alumni) from the Jesuits about their sincere apologies and stance on this issue. It reads, they have since "Established Policies and Procedures for Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse based on the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops." It shares great detail about steps they took to notify proper federal and local authorities and how they conduct background checks and provide ongoing training to promote awareness and prevent these wrongs from happening.
Those who did wrong and knew about the crimes are a small percentage of the Church, which must still look within to implement overdue change. When we finally see that change, we must fight the growing pains and work to embrace it. Perhaps priests should be allowed to marry, its stance on homosexuality should change, and maybe women should have the option to be priests...
In the meantime, my husband and I work on building trust with our boys and teaching boundaries. We relish in how social our oldest is at two years of age, but are starting a dialogue about how people need to earn our trust. If someone (especially an authority figure from the Church or any organization) breaks that trust, it is their own fault. The criminals are the only ones who should feel ashamed and be held accountable. Children and all of us should call the police if we are the victim of a crime or know about one. In fact, the email, I just received from the Jesuits, urges anyone abused to contact the authorities.
Of course, the sex crime news does not mean the entire Catholic Church is wrong or all Jesuit priests are bad. If a Jesuit education fits our kids’ strengths and needs, we would be proud to send our boys to such an institution. The Jesuits taught our family their prayer, “Serve you as you deserve,” which those priests in question clearly did not.
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