One of the nation's largest atheist groups is calling on American Catholics to quit the church in response to the ongoing revelations of sex abuse against children.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation revealed on Monday that it will be launching a full-page ad this week in The New York Times, with the headline: "It's time to consider quitting the Catholic Church."
The ad features statements from the recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report that found that hundreds of priests abused children but were protected by the church for decades:
"Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all."
The ad states:
"Six dioceses, three hundred predatory priests, a staggering 1,000-plus victims. No bishops indicted. The pope's response? All words, no action — except, insultingly, to call on the faithful to 'pray and fast.'"
"As an early church whistleblower put it, the Catholic Church appears to be an 'organization preaching morality while providing sanctuary to perverts,' a church where shepherds routinely prey on their flock.
"Three decades of praying priests, church complicity, collusion and cover-up going all the way to the top. Anyone who continues to support this morally bankrupt global syndicate is complicit. This institutional betrayal of trust epitomizes the dangers of blind faith and obedience to religious authority."
Pope Francis' response in question came in the form of a letter last week, where the pontiff admitted that the Catholic clergy "showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them."
"Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient," he added.
Francis acknowledged with "shame and repentance" the failures of the church to act against the abusers, and said that sanctions have been delayed.
The Vatican leader called for prayer and fasting but did not outline specific plans for delivering guilty bishops and other clergy to justice.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who previously served as the Vatican's ambassador to the United States in one of the top diplomatic positions, called for the resignation of Pope Francis, stating in an 11-page letter, published in The National Catholic Register, that the pontiff knew about the accusations against McCarrick.
Some Catholic Church defenders, such as Catholic League President Bill Donohue, have insisted throughout the scandal that church reforms are working.
"No entity in America today, private or public, has more institutionalized mechanisms in place to check for the sexual abuse of minors than the Catholic Church," Donohue wrote last week.
He pointed to statistics by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which show that only 0.005 percent of clery had a credible accusation made against them in the last two years.
Donohue further accused the media of ignoring the positive work that is being done to stop such abuse.
"The Catholic Church should be subjected to the same degree of scrutiny that is afforded all other institutions in society. But the corollary is also true: it should be treated just as fairly. It isn't, and that is the problem," he stated.
As for Catholics angry over the revelations of sex abuse, both in the Pennsylvania grand jury report and in the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick (who resigned last month after allegations of sex abuse over decades), Donohue said that some are "being played."
"Conservative Catholics have been especially strident in their comments. Unfortunately, they are being played. To be specific, their call for grand jury investigations in every state, and the wholesale release of priest personnel files, is playing into the hands of the enemies of the Catholic Church. So are their appeals to parishioners asking them to withhold contributions. Even worse are their demands for a mass purge of bishops," Donohue argued in another statement on Monday.
"Those who despise the Church are loving it: these Catholics are unwittingly carrying their water for them. Church-suing lawyers and Church-hating activists—there are many of them — are on a search and destroy mission to upend the Catholic Church. Angry Catholics are taking their bait by not insisting that every institution in society, public as well as private, be subjected to the same level of scrutiny."