Bishop Bennett Cartoon

Why do we keep hearing this story? That is the question that so many of us have been trying to answer in light of more recent revelations about the Catholic Church’s widespread cover-up of child sexual abuse by the clergy.

This far-reaching scandal has even reached LMU with recent reports of sexual harassment by a former LMU Jesuit, Bishop Gordon Bennett. Though we still do not know the precise nature of the allegations, they were deemed credible enough to bar Bennett from performing any priestly or episcopal ministry.

One can argue that the expulsion of Bishop Gordon Bennett is evidence of the Catholic Church taking their policies more seriously. After all, the event reportedly took place 13 years ago, and the Church could have continued to ignore it.

But unfortunately, the Catholic Church is too large and decentralized to take any meaningful steps toward addressing this problem. Nothing will change on a large scale until the Church itself makes a much greater effort toward standardization of its policies.

The Catholic Church has 1.2 billion followers. If it were a country, it would be the third largest in the world, right behind China and India.

The idea of regulating behavior by clergy-people in dioceses spanning the globe is an impossible task for the Catholic Church under their current organizational structure. There are hundreds of Catholic Archdioceses worldwide and each one is responsible for their own approach toward sexual misconduct.

Policies and responses to scandals often differ depending on location. For example, the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to engage and potentially settle with any alleged victim, while the Archdiocese of New York spent years lobbying aggressively against legislation to extend the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse claims.

On top of that, members of religious orders are required to report not to bishops, but to heads of their organizations instead. 

As a result of this de-centralization, the Church has difficulty creating standards and policies that its clergy can reliably implement and follow. This is why it is so important to standardize and enforce policies and responses toward sexual assault throughout all dioceses and orders within the Church. 

Yes, it is a large undertaking, but it is an even larger problem that needs to be addressed immediately. 

This the opinion of Steven Nassif, a junior entrepreneurship major from Santa Clarita, California. Tweet comments @LALoyolan, or email editor@theloyolan.com.

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