Years ago one of my co-workers and I were talking about the Catholic sex scandals and she was saying how she just would never be able to go to a Catholic church now because they’re so much more dangerous than when we were kids. But I was like, those kids we’re hearing about are our age. The whole point is that this has been going on for years, but we’re only now hearing about it.
The narrative of the past few years seems less about “sinking into moral dystopia” than about the draining away of a swamp that hid bad behavior. It’s lately that we’ve learned to stand up to, say, bishops protecting abusive priests, and to not to tolerate that sort of crime any more. If cynicism about such institutions means not trusting them to police themselves, it has sharpened, not dulled, our sense of right and wrong. We have, if anything, been more engaged than ever with the question of accountability—and that’s good.
It does suck that there’s so much suffering in the world, but that we hear about it and can do something about it is a good thing. The world is not worse than it was. Ordinary people just have more of an opportunity to know what’s bad about it.