As for the prospect of a new pope coming in and cleaning house, he said: “In 2005, I thought there might be some change. Now I’m hopeless.”
A spokeswoman for the archdiocese declined to comment.
Lorenz’s stance is emblematic of a community of survivors who have largely given up on changing the church.
Ten years after the abuse scandal exploded, creating a passionate reform movement, survivors who picketed cathedrals or launched write-in campaigns in 2005, the last time a pope was picked, say they have grown discouraged by a perceived lack of tough punishment and exhausted by the emotional toll the subject takes on them. Their efforts have shifted to changing civil laws or to general support for abuse survivors within and outside Catholicism. Or, in some cases, to simply functioning.
Ironically, this shift is happening as the topic of clergy sex abuse — once U.S.-centered — is bursting into the open in countries around the world and taking center stage in the conversation about Benedict XVI’s successor. The senior cardinal in Britain, Keith O’Brien of Scotland, resigned last week — less than two days after allegations surfaced that he had inappropriate contact with three priests and a former seminarian.
Many of the groups that appeared during the early and mid-2000s have shrunk or disappeared, and even groups whose purpose remains church reform are debating what that means: Holding individual clergy accountable? Focusing on more dramatic structural changes such as electing bishops and allowing priests to marry?
Bill Casey, a longtime national leader of Voice of the Faithful, once one of the leading reform groups dealing with survivors’ concerns, said the energy level “has diminished quite a bit.’’
“There has been a broad diminishment of expectations that these efforts will improve anything in our lifetime,” Casey said. Attendance at group events has plummeted, as have donations, he said.
Survivors have criticized the group because “it has had an interest in working within the structure,” Casey said. “Many people say, ‘You’re just dreaming; it’s a lost cause.’ ”
Terry McKiernan, head of the largest research database on clergy and abuse, said of the survivor community: “For a lot of people, it’s not a community anymore. . . . I think a lot of people who were involved in the early days, they’ve run out of steam.”