PHILADELPHIA (CBS) –Over the last five days, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been hit with some shocking allegations: negligence, conspiracy, cover-up and repeatedly failing to protect children despite warnings. Could those charges have long-term implications for the future of the Catholic Church in the Delaware Valley?
Eyewitness News found there are some very wide-ranging opinions of how the archdiocese has handled the sex abuse scandal. Perhaps that is a given, considering there are a million and a half Catholics spread across Philadelphia and its four Pennsylvania suburban counties.
The noon mass crowd at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Center City seemed patient and resolute in its faith.
“I don’t go to the negative side. I stay on the positive side,” said Larry Kenney of Haverford, who added that the scandal would have no bearing “whatsoever” on the amount he gives to the archdiocese or the frequency of his attending mass.
He and several others, however, did say they were somewhat disappointed in church leaders.
“I feel they’re a little bit passive on it,” Kenney said. “But maybe then they feel they don’t want to be the judge and condemn their fellow men.”
“It’s up to the cardinal and a lot of others to face reality,” said Joe Harvey of Fairmount. “Treat these men like anybody else.”
Several young Catholics at LaSalle University didn’t seem phased at all by the recent allegations.
“Not at all,” said one student when asked if the scandal would affect his opinion of the church of church leaders.
“Not really,” said another.
Then, there are Catholics like Bud Bretschneider.
“There’s very little reason to trust [the church] at this point,” he said. “It appears that the hierarchy is listening to their lawyers, instead of having a loving, gospel approach to this situation.”
Bretschneider is a Catholic and a member of the group “Voice of the Faithful of Greater Philadelphia” which has been openly critical of the Catholic Church’s handling of the sex abuse scandal.
He says the Archdiocesan leadership must make serious changes to regain the support of the church’s members. That would include no longer worrying about finances and image.
“We would like to see some structural change, but whether it can happen, does not seem possible,” he said.
Almost all Catholics, however, told us, when they have concerns with the church, they turn to their faith.
“We believe in God, we don’t believe in people,” said Joe Harvey. “Our faith is strong.”
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Reported by Ben Simmoneau, CBS 3