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Does the church cover up cases of clergy sexual abuse?

On Behalf of | Jan 22, 2024 | Clergy Abuse

Sexual abuse in the church, specifically catholic, has been making the headlines for years. Many people, including children, have been sexually abused by people they go to for spiritual guidance. 

But what usually happens to such priests? 

Some archdioceses cover up cases 

Sadly, a significant percentage of priests who face sexual abuse allegations are usually moved to new ministries. In 1999, a New Orleans priest, Lawrence Hecker, confessed to his seniors that he had either sexually molested or otherwise harassed multiple teenagers he met while working. And one of the victims even came forward to the archdiocese. 

The organization sent the priest to an out-of-state psychiatric treatment facility, which diagnosed him as a pedophile. The facility also discovered that Hecker had engaged in a sexual encounter with an adult with an unspecified mental disability to whom he was ministering.

Accordingly, it recommended the priest be prohibited from working with children, adolescents and other “particularly vulnerable” people. But after leaving the facility, the archdiocese allowed him to work until he retired in 2002. 

The Archdiocese of Pennsylvania is also facing a lawsuit for moving a sexually abusive priest around. The priest had been moved from assignment to assignment from 2003 to 2020 when a new lawsuit was filed.

Further, the Archdiocese of Boston has been accused of covering up sexual abuse of children by its clerics. Thus, this is a major concern. 

What are church superiors doing?

In 2017, Pope Francis admitted the practice of moving priests around should be stopped, and instead, they should be reported to authorities. The pope admitted that the church had waited too long to take clergy abuse seriously, but it was time to stop this issue in the catholic church. And he has continued to be vocal about this matter.

If you or your loved one has experienced clergy abuse, consider legal help to understand the steps to take.