Millennial Catholics Want Transparency, Truth, and Action in Wake of New Sex Abuse Crisis

Millennial editor Robert Christian writes:

While a small group of ideologues have tried to hijack the crisis to promote their preexisting agenda against Vatican II, gay priests, or celibacy, the general response among millennial Catholics has transcended the many internal divisions that exist within the U.S. church. The anger is palpable. There is anger at the injustice that was perpetrated, anger at the pathetic response by members of the hierarchy across decades, and anger at the secrecy and cover-ups that kept it all quiet. There has also been anger at the way current bishops have responded—the feeling that their initial statements were disconnected from the experiences and sentiments of the people in the pews.

There is widespread sorrow, as well. Above all, there is sadness at the suffering of the victims and at the decisions made by church leaders that not only denied these victims justice, but continued to expose others to harm and exploitation. There is disgust. For younger millennial Catholics, the sex-abuse crisis of the early 2000s was more history than lived reality; the current crisis is a jarring, difficult, and sometimes nauseating experience to many….

Among millennial Catholics, there seems to be a strong sense that this must be a turning point, that this must mark the beginning of a new era of transparency and accountability. Calls for reform are being articulated by young Catholics with all different types of worldviews and backgrounds. In the highly polarized U.S. church, where partisan affiliation and political ideology often matter more than the demands of the faith, this deserves attention….

They know the status quo must change. There is a need for prayer, but also action. Maintaining what little credibility the church has among millennials depends on it.

Catholics, millennial or not, must remember that the church is more than the hierarchy. It is the People of God. All Catholics can bear witness to the best of their faith by living it authentically—fathers and mothers caring for their children and sons and daughters caring for infirm parents, workers at Catholic Charities and Catholic Relief Services helping to lift up the poor, pro-life and environmental activists fighting for human dignity, teachers carefully explaining the faith to a new generation, and countless others trying to follow Christ in their daily lives. And we can all be there for the survivors of sexual abuse, working for a church and society that better protects children and anyone else who might be exploited or harmed. The temptation to wallow in despair remains, but the call to build a better church is more important now than ever.