Recently, the Catholic Church in the United States has been thrown into the spotlight due to the uncovering of decades of abuse by priests. The disturbing molestation incidents and the further cover-up by ranking bishops has tested the faith of many Catholics in this country.

Although these incidents provide a glimpse into the darkest depths of what positions of religious authority can lead to, the loss of faith being seen throughout the church is disturbing. Those whose faith has been shaken due to those clergy who have been corrupted are not looking far enough to find reasons to believe.

While North America has been consumed with the disgusting sexual activites of priests, South America has created a new martyr. Archbishop Isais Duarte Cancino of Cali, Colombia was shot down following a group wedding ceremony in a poor neighborhood of Cali.

The outspoken archbishop was a symbol of the good that can be done through the institution of the church. He used his influence to condemn the violent civil war in Colombia, and to arrange secret meetings between factions in the country.

Without the institutional organization, Carcino and the many other clergy members in South America who have fought for justice would not be able to have such a noticeable affect. In other parts of the world, clergy are working towards relieving poverty and establishing social justice.

It is sad that the sexually deviant priests have dominated the headlines and covers of news magazines, while the assassination of Carcino has been buried. Granted that organized cover-ups should not be tolerated, but the positive aspects of the Catholic church so close to home are being ignored.

Unfortunately, like any organization, there will always be those who use power to corrupt. With the ethnocentric attitude of many in the United States, it is not suprising that they are seeing the sins of a select number of U.S. clergy as institutional corruption.

Instead of allowing this situation to create a loss of faith in the beliefs and tenents of the Catholic faith, the members of the U.S. church need to rethink their beliefs. If the presence of bad elements in the clergy cause a crisis of faith, what was the faith really in?

Perhaps those who have lost faith in Catholicism should look to South America to find proof for their faith to exist.

Miller can be reached at

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