Catholic Faithful Demand Change After Sex Abuse Scandals

The day after a grand jury report revealed that Roman Catholic clergy in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children over decades, Adrienne Alexander went to Mass at a Chicago church and waited for the priest to say something about the situation.

He didn’t. And that left Alexander fuming. So she went on Facebook to vent — then organized a prayer vigil in Chicago that became the catalyst for similar laity-led vigils in Boston, Philadelphia and other cities nationwide.

Alexander is among countless Catholics in the U.S. who are raising their voices in prayer and protest to demand change amid new revelations of sex abuse by priests and allegations of widespread cover-ups. They are doing letter-writing campaigns and holding prayer vigils and listening sessions in an effort to bring about change from the pews, realizing it’s up to them to confront the problem and save the church they love after years of empty promises from leadership.

“I think it’s important that the large body hears from us,” Alexander said. “We actually make up the church.”

Their grassroots efforts are gaining momentum. In the last week more than 39,000 people have signed their names to a letter demanding answers from Pope Francis himself.

Another effort, sponsored by reform groups, has seized upon the “Time’s Up” and #MeToo movements and is organizing events across the country this weekend under the CatholicToo hash tag.

Some of the efforts are calling for specific reforms, such as laity-led investigations and transparency, while others are still brainstorming solutions. One woman in Michigan founded a website to make it easy for anyone to speak up and write to church officials.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” Marjorie Murphy Campbell, a civil and canon lawyer in Park City, Utah, said of the laity’s engagement. She said many Catholics feel they have no choice.

“You either have to get involved now, because you cannot trust the bishops to solve this themselves, or you leave. … It’s our job to help the mother church get through this.”

Read more at Associated Press