Why Protestants should care about the Catholic sex abuse scandal

The Catholics on campus, as few as there are, shouldn’t be the only ones paying attention to this iteration of the sex abuse scandal. This past week, an Australian jury convicted Cardinal George Pell for his crimes against children, and the Vatican opened an official investigation into his actions. But how many Calvin students are praying for Christendom in light of this decade long scandal? I’d suspect very few—yet, our faith should implore us all.

You don’t need to believe that the Catholic Church is the one holy Church in order to realize that this isn’t a Catholic issue. It’s a catholic one.

Catholics and Protestants are brothers and sisters in the Lord. Thus, a problem for one tradition is a problem for the other. That means that our brother and sisters have been molested by priests, and others have been the molesters. The pastors of Christ raped the children of Christ. This means many of us will spend eternity with people we failed to pray for.

We should also pay attention because it’s a moment to learn, to learn about our own faiths. There are many faithful Catholics who have eloquently expressed what it means to be a Catholic in this moment. I’ve read many articles and heard many Catholics talk about missing their first obligatory mass in years, not in spite of their faith, but because of it: a protest against the Church, driven by faith. This is a noble faith deserving imitation.

Ross Douthat, the NYT columnist, revealed a layer of sympathy for those leaving, “For American Catholics at least, this era feels understandably like another death—in which the saints seem hidden, the would-be prophets don’t agree with one another, the reformers keep losing. And it is all-too-understandable that people would choose to leave a dying church.”

It’s the same faith of Elie Wiesel’s “Trial of God,” a book based on Wiesel’s personal encounters on the way to a concentration camp, in which he witnessed three Rebbes host a mock trial for God’s non-actions in the holocaust, declared him guilty and proceeded to pray. Yet, many remain Catholic because “because somebody has to run into the [burning] building,” writes Matt Malone, S.J.

And to be frank, the gravity of this can never be fully understood by a protestant—but we must try.

Go to a mass. Pray. Weep. As Paul writes in Romans 12:5, “so we, who are many, are one body in Christ.”