'It's Hard Being Catholic Right Now': The Utah Response To Ongoing Sexual Abuse
Cristina Rosetti considers herself a practicing Catholic, but she can’t square her faith with the recently exposed abuses of church leaders.
“It’s hard to be Catholic right now,” Rosetti said.
Rosetti moved to Utah a year ago to finish her Ph.D. in religous studies. Growing upshe attended Mass now and then, but since officially converting two years ago she’s only missed twice. It’s a weekly ritual. But in light of the most recent revelations on Catholic Church-wide sexual abuse, she said worshiping hasn’t been easy.
Rosetti said that seeing the recent findings from a Pennsylvania Grand Jury that estimated around 300 clergy may have abused children — and everything that has followed — has taken its toll. For one, she has no desire to go to confession anymore.
“I can’t do it,” Rosetti said. “I’m not walking into a confessional with a representative of an abusive institution and asking them to absolve my sins.”
The news of ongoing abuse has now reached Utah, too. Last week, a Catholic priest in American Fork, David Gaeta, was put on leave while he’s being investigated by the Division of Child and Family Services and the Salt Lake City Diocese for child abuse. Law enforcement in Ogden, where Gaeta used to work, has also been notified according to the Diocese.
Some changes are already underway in Utah. The head of the Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City, Bishop Oscar Solis, issued a statement earlier this month in response to the findings in Pennsylvania. He expressed “personal shame, distress and anger concerning the abuse committed by some priests.”
Next week, Solis will meet with a few selected Utah priests to discuss the scandal, determine how best the Diocese can reach out to victims and review the current safety policies in place.
Rosetti said she’d also like to see more preventive measures. At her home parish, the Cathedral of the Madeleine in downtown Salt Lake City, she’s seen notes in the bulletin that encourage those who have been abused to get help.
“They do encourage reporting, but that’s not something I see at every parish,” Rosetti said.
She said that hindsight has taught her that the Catholic Church cannot handle these investigations itself and she wants outside agencies to be more involved in rooting out the system issue.