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I cannot help but feel that the most intense challenge facing the Catholic Church lies in how it deals with the large number of sex abuse cases involving Catholic priests. I cannot think of a more challenging element than this one. For a religion that places such a strong primacy on the role of the priest and the total submission of the penitent to both God and their priest, accusations of sexual misconduct and the abdication of trust strike at the very heart of the religion. The fact that Bishops and other clergy members in the position of power might have had a direct role in shielding priests accused of some of the worst in sin is even more reprehensible. The Catholic Church has to "come clean" and demonstrate that those in the position of power can use that power in an effective manner in ensuring that those priests who did wrong are punished with acknowledgement of their own sin, but in a manner that is consistent with the teachings of Christ. I think that this becomes one of the foundational challenges for the church. This trust has to be repaired. It is a very unique time in human history when all three of the major religions of "the West" are under a state of siege. This becomes "the crucible" for the Catholic church and how they deal with it and restore that which has been lost becomes a test of both its ability to navigate the uncertainty in the future and a reconciliation with its own past of righteousness and forgiveness.
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