The scandal of sexual abuse among priests and its institutional cover-up presents the Catholic Church with a staggering crisis. It is a crisis of leadership, of moral credibility, and of trust between parishioners, priests and bishops. It is also a crisis of money, for the church will spend millions of dollars settling liability cases (the estimate of settling past, pending and future cases in just the Boston Archdiocese exceeds $100 million), and the faithful may decide to register their outrage by withholding donations.
A crisis is, as the saying goes, also a moment of opportunity. How will the church use this opportunity? All parties agree that the church must establish rigorous policies for rooting out sexually abusive priests and show itself concerned more with the welfare of children and youth than with the reputation of the church.