Wednesday, March 2, 2016

THE STATE OF DENIAL AND IT ISN'T JUST A CATHOLIC THING

The movie Spotlight has reopened the press's reporting of the sex abuse scandal of the Catholic Church. Cardinal Pell is being grilled in Rome by Australian judges concerning what he knew about various priests who had horrific records of abuse when he was assisting a bishop with personnel issues.

One Pennsylvania diocese was investigated by a grand jury and discovered from archival records horrible abuse over the past 50 years.

In all of this, one would think that sexual abuse of minors is a Catholic thing in general and a priestly thing in particular. I would caution those who are in such a state of denial to put a "spotlight" on other institutions, such as the family, yes the family, especially now that we have so many divorces and strangers moving into the home, such as boyfriends, children of boyfriends and new spouses with more children, some teenagers.

I would also suggest a spotlight similar to the one the Boston Globe shone on the Church be shone on public schools.

I would also suggest that there is a media fascination with women teachers who abuse their students and that these women often become celebrities in the news and are treated differently than male abusers.

All one need to do and the press could do it, is to evaluate those who are in prison convicted of crimes of child molestation and sexual abuse of the most horrific type. Are these prisoners all Catholic? Are they all priests who made promises to chastity and celibacy? Of course not, most are married men, some are women.

In addition, unlike the vast majority of Protestant denominations, there is a paper trail in archived records of what priests have done. Thus courts can required this records to be turned over to secular courts to read and distribute. Protestants for the most part have no such paper trail. In the Catholic Church it is required by canon law. Thus this makes the Church a target since it has records.

But the Catholic Church and her priesthood should be held to a higher standard although the people of the Catholic Church, clergy and laity are a part of the society that was/is in a state of denial and continues to be in a state of denial about sexual abuse of minors.

What could have caused the Church's officials and other clergy and laity to be so blind to what children were suffering?  These are my guesses:

1. Up until the 1980's, early 1990's most clergy and laity who thought that a priest might have been molesting a minor, but had no actual proof other than a suspicion, a feeling, would have thought that their thoughts were dirty and perverted--that they had a dirty mind. Thus they would not have reported their suspicions out of fear of detraction of the priest's moral character.

2. There was encouragement of priests until the charter in 2004 to be close to young people, bring them in the rectory, take them on trips without other chaperons and the like. This was a sign of a hip and "with it" priest who could relate to the young and play with them like a peer.  This mentality still exists to day in some places, that priests should be able to get on the same level with the young to relate to them. Many priests did so in an exemplary way, but it opened the door to the type of abuse we have seen when too much trust is placed in adults who relate too much with young people.
Most people would be very suspicious of any other professional acting too much like a teenager or child themselves in relating to young people.

3. Parents allowed their children to spend an inordinate amount of time with priests such as to take them on trips alone and even to allow these kids to go with a priest on month long vacations. I find this incomprehensible, but it happened time and time again. Again parents trusted priests who should never have been given such trust or access to children for this kind of thing, even if the priest was trustworthy. Of course it is a tremendous betrayal of trust.

4. Bishops who shuffled these miscreant priests around time after time are the greatest puzzle to me. My thoughts on this:

--the bishop was completely ignorant of what sexual abuse does to a minor and thought they would get over it and that sexual abuse was like any other type of sexual sin and could be forgiven time and time again and new opportunities to get it right were given to priests time and time again

--the priest only did these sorts of things other the influence of drugs or alcohol and thus addiction was at the root of it--thus curing the addiction cured the problem. This accounts for so many priests being sent for treatment, sometimes for more than a year and then being assured by those who treated the priest that he was over his addictions and should be reassigned.  I know for a fact as vocation director that I heard priests who treated priests for sexual abuse say over and over again it was like an addiction similar to alcohol and that once these priests got into recovery they should be integrated back into the parish, but the parish needed to know what the priest's problem was and that he needed supervision with his recovery. They wanted the Church and broader society to treat recovering sexual addicts as they would recovering alcoholics with acceptance and understanding.

--most of the cases involved teenage boys that looked like adults in bodily development. Many bishops must have thought that these boys wanted it and like it that they were homosexual and that it was consensual sex.

--barring any of the two above, the bishops themselves were morally bankrupt or simply did not believe the accusations that parents brought against priests.

--keep in mind that law enforcement often was notified about these cases and sent them back to the bishop to handle. Perhaps law enforcement who see more of this stuff than any other segment of society felt the same way as many bishops did, that it simply happens and we move on and that teenagers could have been complicit in their sex abuse, meaning it wasn't abuse but desired by both parties.

The whole thing is a mess but today there are safeguards in place to prevent a priest from taking children on vacations, overnight trips and the such without other chaperons. And if a priest is doing this, no one today thinks that they themselves have a dirty mind for thinking that there is something suspicious about this.

Through various diocesan programs, more clergy and laity are aware of danger signs related to potential abuse and will intervene to stop it, such as reporting their suspicious to higher authorities such as law enforcement.

There is now zero tolerance and priests will be expelled from the active priesthood when an accusation proves to be true.

Denial runs deep in this scandal and it continues to do so in and outside of the Church.

33 comments:

Vox Cantoris said...

The river denial is a long one. The bottom-line is that men with a proclivity to sodomy, what we politely call, homosexuals a word of just over a century in origin when we have a perfectly good biblical word, "sodomites"; these so-called "men" entered the priesthood to seize upon their victims. These men were pederasts, ebophiles, filthy perverts who desired oral copulation, masturbation and anal sodomy and other disgusting acts such as fisthing, rimming and felching, with young but post-pubescent boys.

These perverts should never have been admitted to the priesthood. The bishops that moved them around, should be defrocked and imprisoned.

How did it happen? A planned Satanic infiltration to destroy the faith.

Bella Dodd told us. believe her.

Anonymous said...

My guesses as to why this has happened:

1. The priests involved were obviously not concerned about the souls in their charge and considered it their right to prey on defensless minors. ARROGANCE and LUST The bishops didn't care about the victims at all, that's undeniable. But the thing nobody brings up is that the bishops cared so little for the priesthood that they allowed this filth to remain. They allowed men who clearly demonstrated they were unfit to remain in the ranks of the holy priesthood. ARROGANCE and APATHY.

2. The scope of the problem clearly shows a deficiency in priestly formation.

3. And being realistic about the total collapse of the Faith in the last 50 years. I have to believe that the immense devestation was not accidental but done on purpose. Years ago a Communist convert to the Faith, Bella Dodd, confided to Bishop Sheen that she was knew for a fact that the seminaries had been purposefully infiltrated by 1,000's of Communists. She said in 1956 that the program was so successful that at that time there were Communists at the highest levels including cardinals and bishops and that within 10 years the Church would be unrecognizable. What happened in the Church was not accidental it was done on purpose by men who hate the Faith. That explains why we see bishop after bishop undermining the Faith at every turn. Think about it. If someone really, REALLY believed in the Catholic Faith wouldn't they want to share that beautiful gift with others? But they don't they go out of there way to confirm people in their errors. This was done on purpose to try and destroy Holy Mother Church.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I read some of the reports from PA and many of the priests that abused did so after a rigorous pre-Vatican II preparation for the priesthood, the sexual abuse occurred in 1950's when moral standards especially for sexual sins were very high and considered truly scandalous especially by a priest. So this was a pre-Vatican II and post-Vatican II scandal, but after Vatican II it was a scandal on steroids.

Part of the problem in the priesthood is that parents entrusted their boys to priests and did so with complete trust that the priests were heterosexual and had no desire to have sex with boys or teenagers. However, they were savvy enough not to allow their girls to have the same access as their boys because they didn't want to tempt the priest into sexual sins of a heterosexual nature.

So part of the problem here is that sex is natural with either sex and at whatever age depending on one's orientation. This of course is a fallacy. Sexual abuse of children and teenagers is a pathology and of prepubescent children a grave incurable pathology up there with schizophrenia that can't be successfully treated apart from chemical castration or incarceration.

There are many men with homosexual tendencies or orientation who are mature in their sexuality and are either celibate or seek sex with same age partners. They do not abuse children or teenagers.

The same is true of heterosexual men, while they might find a teenager girl appealing psychologically, they know the boundaries and consequences and would never have sex with a minor.

However, in terms of heterosexuality, it was permissible in the state of South Carolina for an adult man to marry a 13 year old girl.

Many times what constitutes sexual abuse given the age of a person is determined not by psychology but by the state and society in terms of what they will accept.

Thus I presume that in the heterosexual population, if it was legal, men would seek teenagers for sex and actually we know they do but it isn't as stigmatized as homosexuals seek sex with teenage boys. And with teenage girls, the presumption is they sought it and liked it. I think we can say the same with teenage homosexual boys or at least that is the prevent thought among many.

But when it comes to the priesthood and men who are vowed to celibacy or chastity, the scenario changes and there is the issue of authority and using one's power to seduce and abuse.

Often alcohol is at the root of it in terms of the drunken priest who gets their victims drunk.

More often than not what is done should be classified not as sexual abuse but outright rape.

Safegaurds have to be in place in terms of how priests relate to all parishioners and their children.

Better screening must take place and there have to be signs of sexual maturity in a priestly candidate prior to ordination.

Much of this is arrested sexual development of priests who entered seminaries in high school, remained in an all male environment throughout their seminary training which after high school was an additional 8 years. They are ordained at 26 having never dated or developed or matured sexually. This is at the root of the crisis.

We don't have high school seminaries any more and most bishops don't accept candidates for the priesthood until they have finished at least two year of college in a coed situation.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Father:

Your summary is very good, thanks.

Like you, I find it incomprehensible that parents allowed some of the rectory visits and vacations for their sons with priests. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, before all this exploded into the public eye; and while it never came up, I really think my parents would have thought such a trip or visit rather weird. Not that they would have objected to me spending time with the priest -- but that would have been too much.

Cletus Ordo said...

1. Statistically, your children are far more likely to be abused by a public school teacher than by a catholic priest.

2. Most Catholics, even now, don't want to believe that a priest is capable of abusing anyone, and we certainly don't want to think a bishop could be indifferent or complicit. The facts prove otherwise. My greatest disappointment in the Church is with its bishops and there are few holding that office today who show any leadership or courage, or even holiness.

3. Even the Diocese of Savannah has been affected by this crisis. It was widely known that Bishop Daniel Thomas (now the ordinary in Toledo, Ohio) was on track to be Savannah's next bishop when Boland retired. That ended when Philadelphia came under scrutiny for a widespread abuse scandal, effectively freezing the transfer or promotion of any auxiliary bishops, one of whom was Thomas. Instead, somebody unheard of was promoted from a nearby diocese. We will never know what led to that promotion, but one can't help but think that the archbishop of that nearby diocese engineered the move.

4. VIRTUS is a joke. The scandals were largely priest abuse cases, yet we now treat parents and laypeople like suspects.

The abuse crisis may not get as much attention today, but it is by no means over. Many bishops should be ashamed of how they handled it and they need to know that they have not fooled all of us.

James said...

All this Bella Dodd stuff really is tin foil hat territory, and diverts attention from the real problem. It's all too easy to blame child abuse on Satanist/Communist infiltrators, rather than face up to the sickness at the heart of the Church. The men who committed these crimes were priests, not Satanists or Communists who disguised themselves as priests.

Bella Dodd, incidentally, never mentioned communist infiltration of the Church in her testimony to the House Un-American Activities Committee: that's just a myth peddled by conspiracy websites. The figure that tends to get quoted -- 1,100 communist infiltrators into the priesthood -- is completely laughable, given that the FBI estimated that there were no more than 25,000 communists in total in the USA at that time.

You can read Bella's full testimony to HUAC here. She was a really impressive lady and a great advertisement for Catholicism, so it's a shame that she's only remembered today by conspiracy theorists:
https://archive.org/stream/investigationofc1953unit#page/n3/mode/2up

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I would not call virtus a joke because what it has done is to train the laity to be more cognizant of this. The more people who are informed the better for children and their protection. I don't know if you have been trained, but the videos used show actual predator priests talking about what they did and how (they are no longer active priests btw). That is a powerful tool for education and eye opening for parents and others who work around children and teenagers. As many adults as possible should be virtus trained.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

There are several and I mean several cases of Georgia public school teachers being accused, one in the Augusta area revolving around a male teacher and his female student and the other just reported this morning revolving around a female teacher and her male student:

HOSCHTON, Ga. — A Gwinnett County teacher has been arrested after police say she had an inappropriate relationship with a male student.

The Gwinnett County Police Department says in a news release that 48-year-old Julee Impara was arrested Tuesday on one count of sexual assault. Impara was a teacher at Mill Creek High School.

The release says the student’s mother found inappropriate text messages on her 17-year-old son’s phone between him and Impara. The mother of the victim confronted Impara about the relationship, and Impara didn’t deny the relationship.

The victim met Impara last fall while she was his teacher. The victim told investigators that he and Impara began having sexual contact outside of school, and that Impara picked him up at his home on occasion.

Gwinnett County Schools says Impara resigned on Dec. 9.

gob said...

Is reciting a list of the other groups of people who abuse children supposed to make me...us...feel a little bit better about the abusive Catholic priests? If that's the idea, it's not working with me.

It's hard to believe that this discussion has not mentioned celibacy. Men...all men...(OK, 99.9 percent) WILL have sex...with wives, girlfriends, prostitutes, strangers, daughters, friends, neighbors, cellmates, students, all alone...but men will have sex. It is absurd to think that voiding the vow of celibacy would not help...a lot..to alleviate the problem. The Church should do EVERYTHING that it can...It is not doing everything...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Gob you are showing immense ignorance. Fathers abuse their children sexually and wives now but do nothing. They are having sex as a couple, btw. In prison, such as the Augusta one, how many of the child molesters there were married and having sex regularly and still having sex with kids? Your ignorance on this is part of the problem not its solution!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Wives know

gob said...

(When someone posts something that backs Rev McD into a corner, he ALWAYS responds by telling them how ignorant they are.) Father, listen...carefully....I know more about sex than you do. I have been sexually active...with my wife since we were married 60 years ago. We have raised 7 children. Your experience is, or should be, nil (I know...you hear confessions) and your knowledge and attitude about sex has been adversely affected...warped perhaps, by your vow of chastity/celibacy. (I daresay that your effectiveness as a priest would probably be better without it.)

It might be of help to you if you re-read my previous posting...carefully.

Peace be with you

Flavius Hesychius said...

OMG I'm that .1%! I knew I would win something eventually.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

You are missing my point. Priests who break their vows are having sex and doing so regularly and to include molestation. Those who aren't having sex are doing this.

The fallacy you perpetuate is that celibacy causes this behavior. No, these men aren't celibate. But worse yet, you don't acknowledge that it is married men who do the majority of molesting as it evidenced by the number of married men in prison for child molestation. So you logic fails me as you seem to think that when a man has a normal outlet for sex, such as being married, he won't molest. Not true. It is a lie and molestation must be view through a different lens which you don't have.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

So read "Those who aren't having sex aren't doing this."

gob said...

The point I'm making is that MEN WILL HAVE SEX. It is their nature...built into their genes. They let men in prison have conjugal visits. It helps lessen the incidences of them having sex with...raping each other. I'm not talking about sex offenders or gay men, but "normal" men who are denied sexual outlet. Celibacy is a very unnatural state...and seldom works....except for Flavius, of course.

OK...that's all I have...

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

GOB what you said is simply not true. It doesn't stop men from having sex with each other in prison and it doesn't stop masturbation. I can tell you that I know that married men are masturbating and having sex too; it is a quite common sin among married men who have an good active sex life. You are delusional about this issue.

gob said...

Of course....I'm delusional about married men. I've only been one for 60 years. I'm afraid you think that you know, or pretend that you know much more about these things than you actually know. (But as a pries, perhaps you're supposed to know, so you may have to do that.)

Conjugal visits for priests would not STOP them from sexually fooling around. It might help though....

Fr Martin Fox said...

Gob:

The notion that celibacy is related to child molestation is absurd. Even granting your premise that priests who are supposed to be celibate won't, then the logical acting-out behavior for could-be-married-but-celibate-and-acting-out priests would be with grown women, not teens, and certainly not teen males.

Or, are you proposing that priests who can't help themselves should be allowed to marry teenage boys?

The problem is the problem: men who molest teenagers.

George said...

Only man has the capacity, in the operation of his will, to deny himself pleasure. In this he is different from animals and other lower creatures who are directed and governed by instinct. It is true that some who have become accustomed to sinful behavior, in differing degrees according to their circumstance, need the help of God's grace to bring their behavior in line with His Holy and Just laws. To say otherwise is to deny the capacity of man to control and direct his will and also to deny the efficacy of the spiritual disciplines of prayer and fasting and the efficacy of God's grace.

St Joseph would not be so honored with such a Holy title, nor would he have been worthy to be the husband of the Blessed Virgin, and the earthly father of Jesus, had he engaged in such behavior.

We, by virtue of Baptism, are sons and a daughters of God, and so we need not and must not engage in sexual sin of any sort.

Anonymous said...

The biggest puzzle to me about the sex scandals involving catholic priests is why the priests themselves remained in Holy Orders. They had taken a vow of chastity, but they discovered time and time again that they could not keep that vow. How could they live with themselves? Is it possible for a man to be a repeat sexual predator and still maintain his priestley vocation? I wish someone could explain the psychology of this matter to me.

gob said...

Fr. Fox....MEN HAVE SEX....often alone, often with another being. The partner is usually someone who is quite available. An American layman has many options...his wife, his friends wife, his secretary, his daughter...a prostitute...on and on. Old cowboys mostly went to the local brothel. Prisoners have other prisoners. Teachers have students. Priests have young people...very often altar servers...who are usually altar boys...who think of priests as being very close to God...who would and could do no wrong...whatever Father says or does must be OK...if he says "This is our little secret", it stays that way... "Grown women" create WAY more problems and risks...

As you said...The problem is the problem: men who molest teenagers....(or pre-teens.)

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Gob in your grotesque and inaccurate generalizations of men in general and priests in particular, why did you not include that men, married men like yourself also have your own children, grand children and great grandchildren? You are the problem Gob and we don't need your gross generalizations to deal with this tragedy.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The real question that my post raises is how is it that bishops didn't stop the abuse of priests they knew were doing it by reporting them to law enforcement or simply firing them to use a business term?

Then by way of extension, why don't wives report their husbands who molest their children, grandchildren and great grandchildren? Why don't siblings who know their brother or uncle, sister or aunt report them to law enforcement?

Why don't public school principals and county superintendents do the same?

We can't stop those with pathologies from doing what they are doing if we enable them by ignoring the problem or hoping it will go away.

We can't make gross generalization about human sexuality and say that because a man isn't being serviced by his wife he then goes and molests his children, grandchildren and great grandchildren. There is something more going on than deprivation.

Common sense tells us this and so does psychology.

Dialogue said...

Gob,

God gives celibate men the grace to be chaste.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Thank you Dialogue and he also gives men in the Sacrament of Holy Orders the grace to be chaste too, meaning faithful to their spouse and if the spouse no longer wishes intercourse, fidelity to her nonetheless. Most normal men don't sexually abuse anyone let alone their children, grandchildren or great grandchildren in the absence of the marital relationship which is quite common in many marriages.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Should have said the Sacrament of Matrimony....

Fr Martin Fox said...

Gob said:

Fr. Fox....MEN HAVE SEX....often alone, often with another being. The partner is usually someone who is quite available. An American layman has many options...his wife, his friends wife, his secretary, his daughter...a prostitute...on and on. Old cowboys mostly went to the local brothel. Prisoners have other prisoners. Teachers have students. Priests have young people...very often altar servers...who are usually altar boys...who think of priests as being very close to God...who would and could do no wrong...whatever Father says or does must be OK...if he says "This is our little secret", it stays that way... "Grown women" create WAY more problems and risks...

I'm sorry, but this is extremely silly and not very logical at all.

The notion that priests' options are limited to "young people...altar servers," akin to the limited options of prisoners, is both obviously false and bizarre. When is the last time you visited a Catholic parish? You seem to think that priests are confined to parish grounds, and their interactions are limited, except for hordes of altar boys, who seem to hang around for hours and hours and hours.

Let me give you a glimpse of reality. Between 6:30 am and 8:30 pm tonight, I will have Mass, exposition of the Eucharist, confessions for several hours, Benediction, and in between, I will be in contact with many parishioners who will come and see me, with staff who work in the office, and I will also go out for lunch in a few minutes and meet a friend. You may not realize it, but I own a car and can drive pretty much as far as I want in any direction, without the bishop's permission. If I get a nearby priest to cover for me, I can actually go away for several days at a time! It isn't all that hard to arrange for a free evening, and if I wanted to go visit someone, even staying overnight, I could do so.

So if I wanted a liaison (I do not, whether you believe me or not), I have plenty of options. Your repeated claim that a priest is going to go for kids as his best option, is simply ludicrous! Insane!

First, because you seem to think that men -- in general -- are as equally likely to be attracted to children as adults. How can you know this? I know what I think; it's repulsive. I suspect far more men share my revulsion, than share your notion that adults and children are -- as far as sexual attraction goes -- interchangeable.

Second, the notion that messing with children is less of a problem or a risk? That's crazy!

Anonymous said...

"serviced by his wife" is an ugly, demeaning phrase

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

When sex is reduced to being serviced which then leads someone to say that when men don't get serviced they will find it anywhere to include minors is what is demeaning!

gob said...

It almost sounds as if y'all haven't heard about the hundreds and hundreds of priests who actually did sexually abuse hundreds and hundreds of young people....who were often altar boys.

There seem to be a few kind of veiled aspersions being cast my way...about fathers having sex with their children...(then Fr. McD, knowing that I'm an old guy, added "grandchildren and great grandchildren".) Here's the story about me: When my wife and I married at age 24, we were both virgins. After 60 years of marriage, neither of us has ever had any sexual activity with anybody other than each other.

(Fr. Fox, you sound like a dude...could pick up a hot chick any time...)

Agnes said...

gob said...
'Of course....I'm delusional about married men. I've only been one for 60 years. I'm afraid you think that you know, or pretend that you know much more about these things than you actually know. (But as a pries, perhaps you're supposed to know, so you may have to do that.)'

So, how can a man who has been married for 60 years know what it's like to be a man who has committed himself to a life of celibacy?

I think the issue may be that you are projecting your own limitations onto other men, which is rather unfortunate. Although I feel sorry for you, as a woman I feel even more sorry for your wife.

Flavius Hesychius said...

So... being unable to marry women is the cause of priests sexually abusing teenage boys...

Strange world. Those priests must have been confused. Or not into women.