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2002 Deja Vu

Here we go again.

It’s been eight years since reporters at the Boston Globe broke the seal on the clerical sex-abuse scandal in the U.S. Church. From early 2002 onward, not a day went by without new reports of priests abusing boys, bishops shuffling predators from parish to parish, and dioceses covering up the crimes of its clerics. Priests were de­frocked. Bishops were brought before grand juries. A few resigned in disgrace. Others, like Archbishop Rembert Weakland, were caught in their own personal sexual scandals in addition to aiding and abetting others’.

Many have wondered in recent years if this sordid affair is a uniquely American problem. This year we got our answer — and that answer comes in the form of an unequivocal “No!” The Catholic Church suffers from more or less the same ills the world over, and is now being hammered by the second major wave of bombshell revelations.

This renewed escalation in the scandal buffeting the Church began late last year in Ireland after the release of the 2,600-page “Ryan Report,” which presented the findings of a nine-year government-led investigation. The upshot: Sexual molestation of children was “endemic” in Irish Catholic-run reform schools and orphanages. The “Murphy Report” followed a few months later, reporting on clerical sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. The Vatican has already accepted the resignations of three Irish bishops implicated in the “Murphy Report” for covering up the crimes of priest abusers. At least two more have tendered resignations to the Vatican and are expected to step down later this year. Sean Cardinal Brady, ostensible leader of the Church in Ireland, has come under heavy pressure to resign for his role in compelling abuse victims to sign secrecy agreements. He has said he will not step down.

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