I was working as a translator off and on for the Catholic Church during the years of 2004 to 2006. Had I any idea what I was walking into at the time, I would have gone elsewhere. But it was the last part of my educational requirements, and was only technical work that happened apart from anyone else. When I was done, I was done, but it did afford me a bit of a glimpse into what was going on on the inside.
It was during this time that the John Jay Report came out in the summer of 2004 that first spelled out the actual numbers for the Catholic Church to ponder over. As an employee at the time we were given this report to read and study, as well as had access to the CARA reports that would follow. We were also made to take part in the USCCB's new child abuse prevention and reporting seminars, finger printed, and made to pay almost $100 from our salary for a police background check. If you worked in any capacity for the Church, then this is what you had to go through, even if you never worked around children, whether Catholic or not and, like me, were there for a short period time on a temporary ad hoc basis, regardless of the capacity.
The numbers of the John Jay Report and subsequent CARA/USCCB reports were quite different from the talk I had previously heard from all sides. Catholics admitted to about "1% of priests" being involved whereas others outside that religion would make it seem that almost all the priests were peodophiles. The reports revealed about 4% of priests were involved, with reports going back from 1950 through 2000. The biggest numbers of reports stemmed between late the late 1960s and the early 1980s. Most of the priests involved were either retired or dead, but the majority of living ones at the time were still bein allowed to serve and were free...something that changed quickly in the States after that report came out.
The most disturbing part of the report was the numbers of criminal acts one priest could be guilty of, namely hundreds or even upwards of 1000 or more acts, according to the studies. Except for about little less than a quarter of these events, the guilty priests were just secretly moved from one parish or diocese to another. The others were reported to police, but again this was less that a quarter of all alleged reports of sexual abuse.
From what I understand by the time I finished my last project, the Church was making progress with dealing with victims as victims and pedophiles as criminals but not without problems. CARA and other reports showed that there were still a handful of parishes in the United States that were uncooperative, that refused to give full details of what occurred in the past, and outright rejected direction from the USCCB requiring the implementation of new safeguards and programs. I took a peek recently to see if these had finally changed their direction and, according to a 2014 report from both CARA and the USCCB they have apparently not.
If the reports are accurate there are now less than 1% of priests currently being accused of sexual crimes today, new ones since 2000. While the reporting to authorities should be close to 100%, as the 2014 reports demonstrate it still is not, at least in the United States. Sadly there are still thousands of victims who have yet to see full justice across the globe in these matters, the U.S. included despite its recent efforts at change. A parish or diocese will file for bankruptcy when it seems it can or at least should try to honor judgments made on behalf of victims. The process of justice, where it exists, occurs but slowly, and some countries are not as cooperative with the authorities about what has been happening and look nothing like the USCCB model.
What has this to do with the JWs and most recent revelations in Australia? If anyone recalls, at the time of the John Jay report a play opened that won the Pulitzer Prize, entitled "Doubt." It was later made into a movie starring Meryl Streep in the lead role. While set in the past, about when the time when the abuse scandals were just beginning, the story appears to be an accurate description of the still untold struggles of laypersons and nuns who fought this criminal activity head-on for decades. What most don't realize is that many in the Church tried to set things right from the very beginning, but the clergy would not have it. The fighting voices however would not sleep and refused to be silent. Parents, teachers, victims, and yes some clergy and nuns kept the struggle up until they became the majority, until they got noticed, and finally until the public at large finally added their voice.
It's more than 50 years since when it started, much too long if you ask me, but for the first time since it can be said that the Church itself, along with secular authorities, are making strides in the right direction. The fact that the Holy See is holding tribunals at the Vatican itself under the direction of a pope who is believed to have been chosen due to the voice of such people who wouldn't be silent, well that says something. That tells you that our voices and actions can make a difference.
No love here for the Catholic Church, but I hope what I've written makes a point and demonstrates the importance and the power of not remaining silent. We can all by what we are doing change things in the Watchtower and force the GB's hand. It may take a while, but it will happen.
I hope the further activity of the secular authorities regarding the RCC help to set matters right as much as I hope that what Pope Francis says he is doing and plans to do is not a farce. I am not going to hold my breath of course, but my hope is for the victims and justice.
If you've never seen "Doubt," watch it. Though fictionalized, it is based on real events, stories that played out again and again, one that portrays real unsung heroes out there (some which may be you), a difficult one to watch but that shows we can't stop talking about it, can't stop posting it across social media, can't stop the fight. We are all making a difference.