To what extent have religious knowledge systems been ethical?

“Help one another. This is what Jesus teaches us. This is what I do. And I do it with my heart”, this is a quote said by Pope Francis that demonstrates the value of ethical acts in the Catholic Church, which is not always the case. The article in The Guardian states that the Church should have ‘pontifical secrecy’ at all times, even in cases of child sexual abuse, known as ‘Secreta Continere’.


On the one hand, not reporting sexual abuse is unethical, since it is their obligation to the civil laws. It is not an act that “helps others”; on the contrary, it is allowing citizens to go against the family and church’s values, while affecting the physical and mental  health of children and families. On the other hand, it is unethical for priests to disobey a law imposed by their leader, the Pope and the church, since it is their duty to be confidential during confessions.

Another real life situation in which religion has been unethical was during the Aztec Human Sacrifice in the 1600s. This religion sacrificed their people to please their Gods, since they ‘needed’ a high amount of blood to appease their god. About 20,000 people were killed in the form of eating parts of the bodies, drowning, beheading, burning, dropping from heights, even assassinating children at a slow pace so that their tears could bring rain, and making a virgin dance for a day and peeling her skin off to be worn by a priest. For the participants of this religion, these practices were ethical, but to make others suffer and take the life of innocent people in unethical.

In the present, due to globalization, the spreading of news is happening at a rapid pace. For instance, there have been hundreds of priests who have been accused of child abuse. Reverend Finian McDonald confessed in 2012 that he molested more than 200 boys, including 18 who were under his care in the dormitories of St. John’s Preparatory School. Additionally, Reverend Tom Gillespie, former priest Fran Hoefgen, the Reverend Bruce Wollmering and the Reverend Richard Eckroth are other predator priests. Not only this, but the abbey would move them to another parish, covering up the abuse. This is not what the Pope, nor the church itself teaches as ethical, this is promoting damage physically and psychologically towards others, more specifically, towards minors; while on the contrary, the church promotes telling the truth and helping others.

To conclude, the Catholic Church has been unethical when hiding acts like child abuse during confessions, because even though this follows their internal ethics, they are creating an unsafe atmosphere for the rest of the people. On the contrary, there are some cases that are completely unethical and are done due to personal gain, whilst knowing the negative consequences, like a priest abusing a minor.


Anon, (2017). [online] Available at: http://1954fb730f83d93215595b2ae9e27ef0.jpg [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Listverse. (2017). 8 Atrocities Committed in the Name of Religion – Listverse. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].

Alternet. (2017). Records Reveal Minnesota Priests Raped Hundreds of Kids for Decades — and Church Buried the Evidence. [online] Available at: [Accessed 23 Feb. 2017].


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