For 18 years I attended Catholic churches. (My ex was of Catholic upbringing and could not bring herself to abandon that aspect of her heritage, though she had no great brief for Catholic theology per se).
The Catholic Church hierarchy cannot be considered as a source of moral tutelage in any area and its attempts to lecture anyone on morality must be viewed as the most extreme hubris.
Every priest I met was a decent and charitable man who was trying to live up to demands of his calling.
As one example, many times I received communion in Catholic churches, though the priests knew that, according to the rules of their management, I should not, because I am not and never have been officially Catholic and because we were both divorced and remarried without benfit of the $900.00+ (each) annulments which could have, you will pardon the expression, rendered us kosher according to their doctrine.
At the same time, they recognized that we were trying to raise a family in the Christian tradition. They disregarded the rules and, instead, did what Jesus would have done: acted with charity and kindness, allowing us to take communion as a family. They never, in fact, even looked at us cross-eyed; I have only respect for those pastors, priests, and deacons.
At the same time, I have followed the news as it has developed over the past two decades regarding priestly child abuse. Heck, the greater Philadelphia area from which I have lately removed myself is heavily Catholic–the pederasty has been big news there for a long time. I actually know someone whose cousin, when a child, was molested while attending Catholic school.
(Unlike most kids, he told his mother when he got home from school the day it happened and never had another problem; at the same time, the offender remained secure in his post and later was discovered to have repeated the deed many times and has been named in numerous recent lawsuits, though he has since gone on to his reward–a reward I suspect he did not anticipate.)
Though the individual priests I’ve known have been good, decent men, I cannot say the same for their management.
As Glomarization implies, this child abuse thing is too big and too international and has gone on too long to be blamed on a few bad apples and a scattering of rogue bishops.
Under Catholic doctrine, for a deed to be a sin, it must meet two conditions. The perpetrator must
It’s not the crime.
One can forgive the crimes of weak individuals giving in to twisted passions, however much one deplores and abhors their deeds.
It’s the cover up.
Strong men in positions of power protected the malefactors and facilitated their repeating their crimes with impunity.
As blatant as was the hypocrisy of Ted Haggard, just to pick a recent non-Catholic example, once it came to light, it also came to an end. Nor did it involve children.
The Catholic child abuse was kept from the light by management and therefore did not end.
The true shame is that the dedication and faithfulness of good and decent priests and religious, those who took seriously and tried to observe the dictates of their church, were so betrayed.