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Cheryl Buchanan
Cheryl Buchanan
Contributor •

Sex, Money, and Religion: A Conversation Long Overdue

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As we gather for the final holiday of summer, and talk with friends and family, I am reminded that sex, religion, and money are still the taboos of polite social conversation. In the Roman Catholic community, however, we are no longer afforded the luxury of what subjects we want to ignore. In fact, it is the silence itself that has enabled the abuse to continue. As a result, media coverage has become more important than ever. Last week, the LA Times covered the Diocese of Milwaukee settlement of 10 cases of sexual molestation of minors in Southern California, which took place after 2 Milwaukee pedophiles were welcomed into the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Diocese of San Diego. It is the widespread acknowledgement and awareness of these crimes that allows survivors to begin to heal and our society to begin to move away from accepting these barbaric practices. Press coverage of trials and settlements reminds the public that this is real.

No matter what religion, political affiliation, cultural background or socioeconomic class we come from, sexual abuse of minors by religious leaders is a devastating crime that creates a legacy of shame, emptiness and pain that affects all of us. There is no question that sexual abuse by members of the clergy contributes to mental illnesses and addictions in victims, which also affects countless other people. The only real question that remains among civillized people is: Are you for the sexual molestation of children in the Church or against it? Silence supports abuse.

Publicity regarding resolution of clergy abuse cases encourages children who are victims to come forward earlier. It sends a message that they will be believed, and they are not alone. Children coming forward earlier, enables the criminal justice system to do its job, and can stop pedophiles at the beginning rather than the end of their careers. Ideally, it also encourages teachers, priests, brothers, nuns, and parents to make reports and take measures that truly protect children, in real time rather than years later. These goals should also be those of the Church and its leadership. Press coverage inspires conversation. As difficult as it may be, it is a subject we cannot afford to ignore.