The Catholic Church is in crisis. As a Catholic, it pains me to say that. But I join many others, Catholic and non-Catholic, who want church leaders to come clean on the church’s sex abuse scandal. No matter when it happened.

Just as Catholics are taught that confession is a gateway to accepting God’s forgiveness, church leaders themselves must confess the institutional and personal wrongs that have been committed in the name of protecting the church, rather than healing the victims of sexual abuse.

Make no mistake, this is a painful remedy. But keeping the scandal under wraps has brought even more pain — to the victims, to the faithful, and to the church itself.