Red flags and disturbing trends found in the Catholic Church

On Behalf of | Aug 3, 2022 | Catholic Church

Last year, an article about a small, obscure Catholic monastery overseas was released that disclosed numerous red flags and disturbing trends found in the Catholic church that are still happening. Although a year old, we would like to draw attention to it now for two reasons.

The first reason is that this article contains a shockingly thorough list of ‘red flags’ and disturbing trends found in the Catholic church. It highlights descriptions of very troubling behaviors that could almost serve as a ‘checklist’ for those who wonder, “Is what my boss/pastor/counselor doing appropriate?”

This article is also an example of a troubling trend in some religions, the growth of ‘independent’ churches headed by charismatic individuals that operate with fewer constraints and thus are even more likely to attract and coddle child molesters.

Regarding the ‘red flags,’ according to this article, a young man who wanted to become a priest felt manipulated, anxious, depressed, and harassed while “locked” in this weird emotional thing with his alleged abuser.

Allegedly he wasn’t allowed to go to the doctor, was urged to take psychiatric medication (by his boss), ‘broke down weeping,’ and ‘has been ostracized. He also reportedly saw ‘inappropriate guests’ at the monastery where both men lived, as well as financial mismanagement and inappropriate personal disclosures. His boss reportedly was highly flattering, personally charismatic, and dynamic. He was good at inspiring trust and frequently gossiped to (others) spiritual direction. He seemed to act possessive toward the alleged victim.

Let’s be clear. If you saw a person, especially a boss, exhibit one or two of these behaviors, you’d rightfully think, “That’s odd” or “That’s creepy,” even though laws were not technically broken.

But imagine that your supervisor did all – or even most – of these things. One act, however awkward or uncomfortable it may make you, could be chalked up to an anomaly. But repeatedly disturbing actions by a boss should immediately prompt an investigation and maybe some kind of disciplinary moves. This article showcases even more ‘red flags’ than we’ve listed here. There should really be a pocket-sized checklist that could be laminated and provided to every employee of youth-serving institutions.

More Disturbing Trends Found in the Catholic Church

The second point of this article is that the growth of new, ‘independent’ churches and religious groups that are NOT part of larger, established, mainstream religious bodies is troubling. A Catholic journalist summarizes the entire sordid story laid up above “is a lesson about what can happen when a charismatic founder is imbued with spiritual authority but with little supervision or oversight.”

The proliferation of small, purportedly, and partially independent religious institutes or religious orders often headed by a charismatic official translates into even less ‘supervision or oversight’ than one typically finds in a diocese or conventional denomination. Who benefits from this lessened oversight? And who might be drawn to become part of one of these smaller, newer, less conventional, and more ego-dominated religious groups? Men who want to abuse power. 

The good news here is that in the legal realm, despite their reduced supervision and their claims to be independent, many times, these entities can still be held responsible for child sex crimes committed by their members or officials.

So if you’ve seen, suspected, or suffered abuse in one of these religious institutes or orders, do NOT assume you are without legal options. You owe it to yourself and others to report these crimes and check with an experienced attorney who can best explain what remedies you may have.

Horowitz Law is a law firm representing victims and survivors of sexual abuse by religious authority figuresand other clergy.  If you need a lawyer because you were sexually abused by a member of a religious organization, contact us today at (888) 283-9922 or [email protected] to discuss your options today. Our lawyers have decades of experience representing survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Colorado and nationwide. We can help.