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From my perspective as a Catholic scholar of religion, one of the challenges in tackling this issue is the hierarchy of the church itself.It is still difficult to hold high-ranking clerics responsible, either for the misdeeds of their subordinates or for the crimes that they may have committed themselves.

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There are also cardinals, who are appointed by the pope, and only they can elect his successor.CHALLENGES TO REPORTINGIn all these cases, the hierarchical structure of the church made it difficult to bring high-ranking figures to justice.When you give superiors nearly absolute obedience, the threshold for acting against them is high.This is not the first time the Catholic Church has been rocked by charges of sexual abuse.While reforms in the Catholic Church in the United States have made it mandatory for priests to report instances of sexual abuse, there still remains much work to be done in the Catholic Church worldwide.The pope is considered to speak infallibly, “without error,” under specific conditions concerning doctrine and morals.

But he is not infallible when it comes to personal judgment such as whom he chooses to get advice from.

In the United States, Cardinal Bernard Law, who protected abuser priests in the Boston archdiocese during his 1984-2004 tenure, has also escaped prosecution.

In fact, Law was effectively promoted to a prestigious position as head of one of Catholicism’s most famous churches, Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

It also is a sacred institution that is willed by God.

PRIESTS AND OBEDIENCEMale priests have the lowest rank in the formal hierarchy.

But now all cardinals are bishops, although in the past there have been exceptions.