US Catholic Faith in Real Life

Special Section: Sex abuse crisis

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sexabusecrisisThe sex abuse scandal has haunted the church the past 10 years. Reports and accusations are on the rise throughout Europe, and eyes are on the Vatican as journalists look into how it responded to cases in the United States and elsewhere.

Learn about the crisis and the reaction of the church though U.S. Catholic's coverage of the sex abuse scandal. Also read what editors and other readers have to say about current events on our blog. It seems every day there is a new headline about the scandal. Keep up at

SPECIAL REPORT: Are we there yet?
The sex abuse crisis at 10

Take it to the board
By Bob Smietana
The diocesan review board is one of the most important reforms of the sex abuse crisis, but its ability to keep predators out of priestly ministry depends on the prelate in charge.


Needs improvement
By Scott Alessi
Over the past 10 years the church has come a long way in cleaning up its act, say U.S. Catholic readers, but it's still too early to declare the sex abuse crisis over.


We can do better
An interview with canon lawyer Nicholas Cafardi
The 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was a blueprint for restoring trust in the church, says this member of the first National Review Board. Unfortunately, a few bishops are still ignoring the plans.


Survivor stories: 7 lessons from the sex abuse crisis
Chair of the National Review Board Diane Knight shares what she's learn from listening to the stories of those abused by priests.

The scandal continues: The clergy sex abuse crisis
Despite the steps taken to protect children in recent years, Justice Anne Burke says that recent development suggest little has changed for the hierarchy.

The truth shall set us free: Responding to the sex abuse crisis
In this excerpt of her March 23, 2010 talk at St. Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne M. Burke, who served on the National Review Board responding to the U.S. sex abuse scandal, lambasts those church officials who continue to betray the gospel by their untruthfulness in the clergy sex abuse scandals.

Nothing but the truth
Judge Anne M. Burke reviewed her years monitoring the U.S. church's response to the clergy sex abuse crisis in an interview from 2005.

Battle fatigue
The U.S. bishops started addressing the sex abuse crisis in 2002. This report from five years in finds that some Catholics are growing weary, while others are cautiously optimistic.

Too true to school
The sex abuse crisis should teach us that it takes more than a seminary to raise a priest.

...and what we've failed to do
The abuse crisis will never be over without a full confession and a freely given absolution.

A mother's anguish
In an essay from 2005, one mother shares the lifetime of suffering beneath the clergy sex-abuse headlines.

Crisis management: Working to make the church safe from sex abuse
A religion educator explains the progams aimed at preventing and detecting sexual abuse in this article from 2006.

Whitewash or renewal?
In 2003, Year Two of the U.S. clergy sex abuse crisis, Kevin Clarke offers a critical progress report and asks: Can the bishops be trusted to guide the U.S. church through the worst crisis of its history, or is it time for laypeople to step up for their faith?

Are our children safe yet?
Then head of the National Review Board, Frank Keating shared his view of the church's response to the sex abuse crisis with U.S. Catholic in 2003.

Broken trust, broken lives: Survivors of priest sexual abuse speak out
Their stories are hard to  bear but unfortunately true. In this June 2002 feature Kevin Clarke reports on the physical and spiritual rape suffered by victims of pedophilia--and how they have been trying to put their lives back together.

How to protect our children from sexual abuse
Preventing child sexual abuse begins with talking to your children about it. In our June 2003 issue, Dolores Curran provided some strategies to help.

A slaughter of innocence
A simple "I'm sorry" just isn't going to cut it with priests' sex abuse. This 2002 essay says we all need to examine our consciences in order for true reconciliation to occur.

How to build a healthier church
In the 2002 media frenzy around the scandals of priest sexual abuse and diocesan cover-ups, Donald B. Cozzens stood out as a frank and insightful voice of reason. In this 2002 interview, he expressed his confidence that "the Spirit is with us in this crisis, and we will find a healthier church as we slowly grieve and heal and move through the present dark night."