Why We Must Act

Sexual abuse—and abuse of power—by the clergy is unconscionable. Thomas J. Reese, S.J., M.Div ’74 wants Catholics to have a loud voice in ending it once and for all.

Thomas J. Reese, S.J., M.Div ’74 says Catholics should harness the power of many to demand information about local clergy implicated in sexual abuse.

“It is hard to do it by yourself,’’ Reese said. “But if you get a dozen people who want to go in, and tell the bishop … and then another dozen from another parish, and another dozen from another parish. Do that,’’ he advised.

The former editor of America magazine, Reese writes a column in the National Catholic Reporter. He has researched and written about sex abuse by clergy since the 1980s. He was back on campus this summer as a fellow with the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics and delivered a talk on “Catholicism and the Moral Catastrophe of Sexual Abuse.”

The Church has work to do, Reese said. And in some cases, the Church is the only authority that can act—if the statute of limitations has run out, the law cannot punish abusers. With that in mind, sunshine, not secrecy, is the best antidote for preventing these crimes.

“It has to be clear that we get it,” Reese said, “and that this should never have happened.”

READ MORE from Tracy Seipel: “Parishoners Deserve Clarity on Clergy Abuse”

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