Saturday, March 28, 2015


 The way the liberal media, i.e. New York Times which owned the Boston Globe went after the Catholic Church and reported on the crimes of priests and bishops would make one think that sex abuse is something isolated to the Catholic Church and only the Catholic Church was the one hiding it.

While I do not disagree with reporting this huge story in the Catholic Church, I think it is safe to assume that much of the reporting was done in order to undermine the Church because of the hot button issues that liberals fear the Church has too much influence, namely on artificial contraception and abortion, same sex marriage and sexual ethics in general, euthanasia and other issues concerning the manipulation of life. But make no mistake, the Church's stance on birth control and same sex marriage is something that liberal progressives want to change or snuff out.

Thus the liberal press gives a pass to the sex abuse scandals in Hollywood. Note how they treated Michael Jackson and other celebrities accused of such crimes. Note how there is no investigative reporting of other churches, synagogues, temples, places of religion and the biggest news story in this ugly chapter on public schools, their administrators and teachers.

Thus with this in mind, here is a very good article from that exposes the truth!

 Catholic Sex Scandals: Media Double Standards vs. Statistics

By Dave Armstrong


Daniel said...

The abuse scandal is truly a tragic story in the church's history, but it's even sadder when people try to minimize it and deny responsibility.

People have written entire books explaining the scandal and why it matters, so I won't be able to do justice here. But I'll try to respond to some key points.

As I wrote here recently, there are at least two elements to what we call "the abuse scandal" -- the abuse itself, which of course is horrific, and the church hierarchy's response, which was arguably worse. Articles like Armstrong's tend to ignore the church response, essentially missing the point.

I've read accounts of literally dozens of other such scandals, in churches, synagogues, temples, day cares, public schools and so on. (If anyone doubts that they exist, I'd be glad to provide a lesson in Google.)

But I'm not aware of any case where hundreds of abusers were shuffled from place to place, with no apparent discipline or public disclosure, free to molest again.

I'm not aware of any public institution that had a consistent policy against reporting abuse cases to police.

And I'm not aware of any institution where dozens of these cases reached a city-wide, statewide or regional authority -- like a diocese or archdiocese or national level -- that pursued that kind of cover up.

And that cover up, as we know, went on for decades. And that is unprecedented, as best I can tell.

As we know, the church is fairly unique in its hierarchy and its global reach.

Most other churches function at a local or fairly local level, so I'm sure there are few cases where a higher-up authority in another church, or a corporation or a school district, shuffled a predator from church to church to church for years to avoid prosecution.

I've not seen a study on this, but I believe that due to this policy of secrecy, the accused abusers in the Catholic Church most likely got a chance to molest many more victims -- sometimes dozens apiece -- than those in other cases.

That is why, quite simply, a corporation CEO or a school superintendent or the head of some other government agency would be in jail if he facilitated abusers the way Cardinal Law and some of his colleagues did.

Daniel said...

As for media coverage, I've explained why the Catholic scandal was both unique and much bigger than other cases.

In the Boston area, for example, there were very few longtime Catholic families that did not know one of the victims, or one of the accused priests, or at least attended one of the parishes involved. Yes, it really was a big deal and deserved to be treated like one.

You simply cannot point to another abuse story of that size and scope. That's a reflection of the church's size and influence in that region (and others). It's simply not comparable to a story about a neighborhood daycare or a coach having an affair with a student (however wrong those two cases may be).

Attack the people who brought that story to light, if you wish, but that coverage was based largely on court documents that the church fought to keep secret. Those stories have proven accurate, except that a dozen years later, we know that the numbers they reported were on the low side.

As for one final example -- Michael Jackson? Are we talking about the same Michael Jackson? I remember years of coverage of Michael Jackson's accusers, stakeouts and helicopter shots of his ranch, a circus scene in court that seemed to drag on for months. I'm pretty sure the Michael Jackson abuse cases got more coverage -- many times more coverage -- than the case against any single Catholic priest. It's a poor example to support your case.

But here's the bottom line: The complaints against Michael Jackson were not covered up and his accusers got their day in court. (And yes, for whatever reason, he was acquitted, like O.J.)

Hundreds, maybe thousands of Catholic victims never got that opportunity due to the policies of secrecy and cover up.

And that is what "the scandal" is all about. Father, you are "safe to assume" whatever you like about the motives of people you've never met. But that is uncharitable and false-witness-like, and contributes to the sense that many people in the church still don't get it, because they really don't want to.

Rood Screen said...

It is certainly an abuse to attribute the cause of sexual perversion to Catholic moral doctrine, to the masculine priesthood, or to the Christ-like state of celibacy. But we must honestly admit that there was wide-spread tolerance of aberrant behavior among the clergy in the recent past. I believe the key to prevention of a recurrence of this is for laymen to learn what happened and why, and then to remain vigilant in never again tolerating doctrinal dissent, liturgical irreverence, or any other clear signs of perverse clerical behavior.

rcg said...

The problem of sexual predation is a human one and extensive beyond imagining. The problem for the Church is how it dealt with it. On the positive side the foundation of the attacks are in the universal agreement that the Church stands against predation. People expected the Church to respond swiftly and harshly. Ironically, the Church seemed to apply compassion and a sense of justice in a glacial movement to address the problem rather than a rush to judgement giving the impression of a cover up on a broader scale than actually existed. Having experienced a similar situation I can see how the run of the mill priest or even bishop could misunderstand a situation or relationship to be more benign than it really is, especially if you don't share those attractions.
We are full circle to the dilemma of what the Church, all of us, should when a sin is known. What action are we obligated to take? How far do we go?

Daniel said...

As for the Armstrong article, there are too many errors and logical fallacies to address here.

Here is just one...claiming that the Irish commission heard just 68 allegations of rape.

Here is the wording of the commission itself, about just one aspect of its investigation:

"The Confidential Committee heard evidence from 1090 men and women who reported being abused as children in Irish institutions....
Sexual abuse was reported by approximately half of all the Confidential Committee witnesses."

That would be more than 500 people who reported, in person, face to face, that they had been sexually abused. That does not include dead victims, victims who could not be located, victims whose complaints were "lost," victims whose cases were never investigated.

Given the decades-long scope for this study, "thousands" of abuse cases seems like a conservative estimate.

While Armstrong's article is, at best, disingenuous, I will take the high road and not assume any nefarious motive.

I assume that, due to faulty reading and/or research skills, he was unable to locate and read the original Irish report (to which I posted the link above).

The facts are all out there, for anyone who cares to look.

WSquared said...

What a breath of fresh air, for an atheist to so eloquently denounce what he describes as the “fashionable and irrational new religion of anti-Catholicism.”

Amen. He has put it so eloquently.

As for this new religion being fashionable and irrational, it behooves Catholics to learn to listen for how the myriad ways anti-Catholicism is incoherent.

It's not easy, though, and will take patience. But as G.K. Chesterton observed long before, some of that stuff can be awfully funny.

Kneeling Catholic said...

Father, doesn't this sentence seem odd (?):
"An independent study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, commissioned by the USCCB,"

I'm just thinking if I were to be presented with an --'independent study' commissioned by the Guttmacher institute-- I might not be convinced that I was dealing with an 'independent study'.

Ditto for this case. As the events in Chile this past month have shown, the Church has not yet learned how to root out this problem, nor how to stop acting like a PR driven corporation that relies upon obfuscation and distraction and has little regard for coming clean

Daniel said...

Kneeling Catholic, you are correct and I described this in a different discussion last week. The John Jay report was based on surveys filled out by the bishops -- including the very bishops under investigation -- and on the records they chose to supply. Later cases, like the big Philadelphia lawsuit, found that the bishops omitted many credible accusations, and most experts feel the Jay study woefully understated the problem. The citation of the Jay study is just one of many curious facts and statements in the Dave Armstrong article; it would nice to have the time to rebut them all, but I'm not getting paid for this and, as I said, people have written thick books on this subject.

George said...

There have been many tens of thousands of priests serving in the United States during the period of 1965 to 1990. This was the period when there appears to be the greatest number of sex abuse cases.The average number of priests in the U.S.during that period was a little over 57,000(worldwide over 400,000). How many of those were arrested and charged with a crime of moral turpitude against a minor? There were some, but it was a small number. Are you implying that there was not only some kind of cover-up by the Church Hierarchy, but also law enforcement and our judicial system.

You say:
"Most other churches function at a local or fairly local level, so I'm sure there are few cases where a higher-up authority in another church, or a corporation or a school district, shuffled a predator from church to church to church for years to avoid prosecution."

Many Protestant ecclesial communities are autonomous. The fact that you rarely read about the kind of crimes occurring within
other denominations or in organizations such as the Boy Scouts does not mean they are not occurring. No one wants bad publicity and so these kind of things are understandably(but wrongly) hushed up.

If you don't agree with the study conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice, what other study can you cite to refute its findings?

If you do not agree with the two statements below,from the article, what can you cite to refute what they reveal?

"...the “flagship” evangelical Protestant magazine Christianity Today noted that there were “70 child abuse allegations reported against American Protestant churches each week during the last ten years,' a quarter of which were against pastors. ('Go Figure'21 May 2002). If we do the math, that adds up to 36,400 cases in ten years."

"In a 1983 doctoral thesis by Richard Blackmon, entitled The Hazards of Ministry (Fuller Theological Seminary: Pasadena, California), it was revealed that 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with congregants, and 38% admitted to other sexualized contact."

As far as Boston, why is it the only one of many predominantly Catholic cities in the U.S. that you focus on? The reporting on the sexual abuse scandal would be analogous to someone doing a history of the Vietnam War and focusing only on My Lai and other such incidents.

I've been attending Catholic churches for many decades (most of them at St Joseph's in Macon) and in all that time I have not been aware of any kind of case of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest occurring.

You seem to have some kind of problem with the Catholic Church. I and others will have to pray for you.

George said...

Kneeling Catholic:
The problem with the Guttmacher Institute is that it is the SEMI-AUTONOUMOUS research arm of Planned Parenthood, the largest abortion provider in the United States. There is no similar relationship between the John Jay College and the USCCB that I am aware of. If you are asserting and implying that there is, please provide some kind of evidence supporting your position.If the study was to be independent and objective, the USCCB had to commission some group or organization out side of itself to do it. The thing is, no matter who the Bishop's got to do it, there are those who would find some kind of fault with it.

There is this form the article:
"a 2004 study, commissioned by the U.S. Dept. of Education, and entitled, “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature” (Carol Shakeshaft), soberly concluded that “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” The US a Cabinet branch of the Federal Government. Are you asserting that the above is untrue? On what basis?

Rood Screen said...


Parents or grandparents who become aware of sexual molestation by a priest should go straight to the police, rather than to the bishop.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

It is no solace to me, a priest, that others have been guilty of the crime of sexual abuse of children.

At the same time, I don't think it is at all "unprecedented" that this terrible crime was covered up by Catholic authorities, including many bishops who knew of the crimes and chose to take no appropriate actions against those guilty.

Unfortunately for those abused, this was the standard response pretty much across the board in organizations from the Catholic Church to the Boy Scouts to Corporations big and small.

That has, we can only hope, changed.

Anonymous said...

Hate the sin, lover the sinner but annul the priesthoods of the homosexual clergy and we will be rid of much of the problem in the Church.

Rood Screen said...

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh,

I agree with you, but we all have a moral obligation to do more than just hope it has changed.

Anonymous 2 said...


“[A]nnul the priesthoods of the homosexual clergy and we will be rid of much of the problem in the Church.”

This proposal prompts some questions:

(1) Over the relevant period(s) what percentage of Catholic priests had a homosexual orientation? What percentage had a bisexual orientation? What percentage had a heterosexual orientation?

(2) What percentage of Catholic priests with a homosexual orientation committed sexual abuse?

(3) What percentage of Catholic priests with a bisexual orientation committed sexual abuse?

(4) What percentage of Catholic priests with a heterosexual orientation committed sexual abuse?

Answers to these questions are, of course, only the starting point for evaluating the proposal but it seems to me the data generated is necessary even if it is not sufficient.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

The point of my post is that we know more about the Catholic scandal in all its facets to include the cover-up (from fear of scandal) of the bishops and yes their mismanagement, either out of callousness or fear of scandal, scandalizing the faithful from the media and now lawyers helping to sue the Church. If not for big settlements, victims would not be coming forward.

We don't know much about the same phenomenon in other religions or in the public school system. In the latter as George points out, it is even greater to include the cover-up by administrators. Thus in these situations, the problem continues to be even riskier for children/teenagers since to programs are in place such as virtus to address the issues and there are few lawsuits.

In terms of homosexual predation of teenagers, yes, it may be higher in the priesthood, but I can't cite any studies to prove this, but heterosexual predation of teenage girls, or female heterosexual ministers who prey on boys is a problem too. It seems people are more inclined, including the press, to turn a blind eye to heterosexual predation of an adult to a teenager of the opposite sex thus putting these children at risk.

Keep in mind the more notorious cases of women teachers preying on boys that have been prosecuted do not carry the same stigma as homosexual predation. In fact many think the boys scored with their female teachers!

As I have written before the more serious problem in society is not pedophilia (and certainly not in the priesthood, although it occurs) but ephebophilia, the abuse of teenagers whether female or male.

In terms of true pedophilia, the predator could care less about the gender of the small child, it is their smallness that is what they desire the the childlike qualities of the body.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

It should also be noted that bishops did deal with the problems of sex abuse but in a way that is not ridiculed and questioned. No, they did not report these to the authorities. For the most part up until the late 1980's they were not required by law to do so.

However, they did send these priests for very expensive psychological treatment and were told by psychiatrists that these predators could be cured, even those with true pedophilia. Often the abuse took place when the priests were drunk so the problem was the drunkenness, alcohol or drug abuse that compromised their impulse control.

In fact if the abuse stems from alcohol abuse and is of teenagers not small children, treatment can be very effective. Ephebophilia spurred by drunkenness is also an issue of sexual immaturity and loneliness. It can be treated. And if there was a "hint" of what happened as being consensual then this had to be factored in.

I don't know about you, but when I was a teenagers, I knew many peers, both male and female who were teenagers who knew how to have consensual sex with older people!

But most cases of abuse the adult takes advantage of the teenager or child, but there are cases of sexually mature teenagers (and there are many) who take advantage of the adult and his/her weakness.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

In my last post at the top, I should have written "in a way that IS ridiculed and questioned. NOT should not be in there.

Rood Screen said...

Father McDoanld,

The reason adults are forbidden by civil law to engage in sexual activities with children is precisely because children, even adolescents, lack sufficient maturity to give their consent to such activity with an adult. Therefore, I think it is best never to speak of an adult and child sexual encounter as "consensual". I know of two priests who've made the opposing claim in public, and both were promptly removed from their offices after a news media firestorm.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JBS, there are no studies on this facet of teenagers having sex with adults. When it is an authority figure, other things must be included and when it is a priest or minister even more fault must be place on the adult.

However, if children who are sometimes still in middle and high school can be charged with murder and as adults as it legal in some states, why in the world would you say that a teenager could not be held responsible for sex with an adult? Isn't murder just as heinous?

Rood Screen said...

"Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster — 14, 16, 18 — is the seducer." Benedict Groeschel, August 27th, 2012

"I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone." --Benedict Groeschel, August 30th, 2012

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Just as it is improper to charge a minor as an adult for murder, it is completely inappropriate to say a minor can enter into "consensual" sexual relations with an adult.

In a sexual encounter between a minor and an adult, the adult bears 100% of the responsibility, regardless of the intentions, mental state, or desires of the minor

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Again, JBS, take the priest out of it, can a juvenile be tried in court for a crime he/she commits and tried as an adult. Can the juvenile be a perpetrator of a crime and can an adult be the victim even in a sex case?

It seems to me the hysteria concerning priests fueled by the press's one sided coverage of sex abuse, meaning its neglectful coverage either intentional or otherwise, of other institutions to include management has fueled a dictatorship of censorship over even the possibility that a teenager could be the aggressor with an adult. Let's leave the word priest out of it, sense we are censored or threatened if we use that term!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

With that said, though, I agree that the priestly cases that have come to the media's attention and we can read about show overwhelmingly that the child was the victim. This is true.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Former PI, you don't deal with reality. I agree a minor should not be charged as an adult. That is not the point. Minors are charged as adults for crimes they commit. It is legal. Maybe it isn't moral.

Deal with the legal aspect in civil law, that's the point I'm making!

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

(CBS) CHICAGO -Three teenagers accused of raping a 12-year-old girl at gunpoint and posting the video of the assault on Facebook were charged with sex assault as adults on Friday, said the Chicago Tribune (2013)

AUBURN, AL (WTVM) - On Thursday Nov. 20, Lee County law enforcement officials released the name and mugshot of an Auburn High School student charged with raping another student inside the school on Tuesday.

Name deleted, 16, has been charged as an adult with Rape First Degree and Sexual Abuse First Degree. Alabama law mandates that a juvenile age 16 is to be immediately charged as an adult if they are arrested for Rape First Degree or any other Class A felony.

I am sure we can find 16 year olds charged as adults for raping adults too, just google it.

Rood Screen said...

If a minor rapes an adult, then that would be an exception. But if the adult consents to pederasty, then the adult is rightly held 100% responsible under civil law.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JBS, my point isn't the law, as I don't think morally a teenager should be charged as an adult, but my point is that teenagers can be mature enough in the law to be charged as an adult and mature enough sexually to commit not only rape, but other sort of immoral sex including seducing older men and women and sometimes for pay out. The adult who lavishes gifts on the one doing it is more responsible, yes and the priest is guilty of a certain kind of very mortal sin and in law a crime. But victimization works both ways with some teenagers, not all and certainly not the majority.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Allan, I am dealing with reality and I know we charge minors as adults. The youngest I am aware of is an 11 year old, Jordan Brown, who was charged as an adult when he shot and killed his father's pregnant fiancée. This is an act of societal/judicial desperation and it is wrong.

It is also wrong to say or suggest that minors are responsible for entering into sexual relations with adults. They are not. The adult bears 100% of the responsibility for the crime.

It simply does not matter that the minor seduced the adult or encouraged the adult. It does not matter that the minor initiated the sexual contact or participated willingly in the sexual encounter.

The adult, rightly, bears full responsibility for the act.

Paul said...

The unthinkable is now thinkable and encouraged -- not only by adults but by children. Deceived adults have made it so.

I hope for a change for the better.

I can imagine a change for the worse.

Welcome to wasted life, shacked liberty and the pursuit of ugliness.

George said...

In one aspect of this I agree with Fr. McDonald

If we think about our responsibility not as it relates to the law, but as it relates to our relationship with God, then yes a minor(I'm thinking especially of young teenager) can be culpable. I've met 13 year olds who were quite mature for their age and who because of their attitude and lack of morals could be (if one were to stay around them) an occasion of sin and severe temptation. It is true that some of these do come from dysfunctional families so the personal responsibility on their part would be mitigated.
I haven't met any church-going young women such as this but the odds are there are some out here like this to some degree or another. There are those who have not been raised properly and were not instructed in the teachings of the Church. In other cases the parents tried to raise the child properly but for some reason or another failed. It is up to authority figures to spurn advances from minors but unfortunately they do not always do this. Human beings have their weaknesses, some more than others. Not as the law judges does God judge.

rcg said...

Man has three aspect: Body, Mind, and Spirit. they all mature at different rates and times. Bodies mature about 12 to 13 years. Minds not much later, about 16 - 18. Spiritual maturity may be an endless process. Our society seems intent on manipulating our understanding of maturity for the satisfaction of the powerful. The market in teenager sex for adults is huge, it is public, and it is supported under the thinnest veneer by our governments. I am not a conspiracy theorist, either. Consider the free speech defense of child pornography when it is present as art. If the right person does it in the right way, he will get a subsidy.

The good news, if if that is what it is, is that this has been a human problem for thousands of years. Only a few hundred, or less, years ago was it suppressed. But it is coming back with a vengeance.

Daniel said...

RCG: If you believe minds mature at 16-18, clearly you've never been a parent.

Daniel said...

George: You post some excellent questions and I'll try to answer them. Thank you for the prayers.

-- How many priests were arrested: I don't know, but since the church's stated policy was to prevent abuse cases from getting reported to law enforcement, those numbers are largely irrelevant. They'll mainly demonstrate how successful that policy was.

-- John Jay: Although the experts have poked plenty of holes in that study, there's no place else to go, of course, because the church is a closed society and its records are not subject to public disclosure (unlike many of the other institutions we're talking about). If the church in the U.S. were to truly show good faith and transparency, they'd allow some outside, independent authority free and unfettered access to its records. That of course would be a massive undertaking.

-- Protestant allegations: I have no idea what's the source of that number or how it was derived or even what it covers (does Protestant mean all non-Catholic Christians, or is it a more narrow definition? I don't know). Unless there is some central authority collecting those numbers, my gut tells me that's a wild-ask guess (the kind of answer you get when you ask a wild question). But I can't prove or disprove that number without knowing more.

-- Blackmon survey: Again, I can't prove or disprove that figure, but let's take care to say that a Protestant minister having sexual relations with someone in the congregation is not the same as "abuse." It may be an ethical violation or it maybe a sin, but it may well include relations between consenting adults. That could simply reflect premarital sex or (since Blackmon does not appear to specify) post-marital. Most pastors' wives belong to the congregation, after all.
-- Boston: I addressed that diocese because it was the main example cited by Father McDonald in his original post (I urge you to read that original post, or the subsequent conversation won't make a lot of sense). Boston was one of the first big cases, but of course we saw the same pattern replicated in many other places.
-- As a weekly Mass-goer, I have no particular problem with the church in general -- or in any case, fewer problems with the church than most of the people who post here.
It does boggle my mind, however, to hear from people who seem more outraged by the priest facing the congregation than by child abuse. I simply don't know what to say to people like that. Please save some prayers for them, too.



Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Daniel the problem in congregational churches rest with their local boards that hires and fires their insisted and keeps no records. Their can't be a study of this huge congregational phenomena unlike theore centralized Catholic system with meticulous records. This the local disperse menu of managing clergy works in Protertaism's favor. They have more abusers, they get fired and hired locally. No bishops to be the fall guy but the Protestants have far more shufflers, they are called congregations and when they fire someone they don't tell the next employer.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I am typing on an iPhone with that damn auto correct and have no energy to rewrite the post above garbled by it!

George said...


Good discussion. I'll try to answer some of your statements

"-- How many priests were arrested: I don't know, but since the church's stated policy was to prevent abuse cases from getting reported to law enforcement, those numbers are largely irrelevant. They'll mainly demonstrate how successful that policy was."

>The parents of the child have no role in reporting a crime? That it is to be left up solely to the accused or in this case, the Church? Although I understand Church policy today is to report it.

"-- John Jay: Although the experts have poked plenty of holes in that study, there's no place else to go, of course, because the church is a closed society and its records are not subject to public disclosure (unlike many of the other institutions we're talking about). If the church in the U.S. were to truly show good faith and transparency, they'd allow some outside, independent authority free and unfettered access to its records. That of course would be a massive undertaking."

No institution (sans a Court order) is going to allow John Jay or anyone else " free and unfettered access to its records". There are reasons for this, including privacy for the individuals involved who do not wish the records to be made public. John Jay had to be aware of the limitations of access to the detailed data. For a study such as this meta data would suffice-how many, what kind, when etc.If you want to assert that the Church would hide even that then that is your prerogative. It would be good to back it up with some kind of evidence though.

Why would "Christianity Today", which is a Protestant ecclesial magazine, publish a study which is critical of those ecclesial communities if it did not have some reason (if not valid stats) to do so concerning this issue?

What about the Shakeshaft study?

Anonymous said...

While I do see obvious triumphalism on the faces of some of those pursuing clergy sex abuse cases, and I think some are motivated by something more than just anger over sexual abuse, I honestly believe the general outrage exhibited against the Church over this is due to the higher expectation of propriety and goodness from the leaders of an entity that holds itself out to be a moral authority. For men who garner trust simply by virtue of their Roman collar to have committed such heinous acts against children IS an outrage. To add to the outrage, bishops and cardinals did not act with revulsion and expel these men from our ranks; instead they quietly moved them and then did damage control.

Back in the 60's a little neighbor girl was molested by her teenage cousin. Her parents reacted with outrage and he was barred from ever setting foot in their house again. True, they never went to the police, but the punishment was swift and absolute. There was no tolerance. There were no excuses. To pretend that the understanding of sexual molestation and the molester was different back then, or not dealt with as vigorously, is just not true.

I too am scandalized by clergy sexual abuse, and believe we should hold our clergy to a higher standard than we do others in society, including school teachers. That is not to say anyone should be sexualizing children, even when those children seem "mature." And I can understand that a particular man may not show such proclivities until he commits such an act. Nevertheless, the problem was dealt with so weakly that I can see why outsiders believe it amounts to complicity.

Even though these cases could have been resolved early internally with swift and final justice, they were not. And, although I don't mean to be cynical here, what is the reaction of bishops and cardinals when a priest is caught stealing large amounts of money? I bet it's not to get him to psychological counseling and move him to another parish.

Swift and immediate action would have sent a clear message to every other priest of the real and serious consequences for that kind of behavior, and reassured any laity involved that our leaders are committed to the solid moral beliefs of our Faith. And the scripture often comes to mind, “What you do in the dark will be brought to the light.” I have heard smidgens and whiffs that far greater perversity exists among some of the clergy. I’m sure, if it is true and not dealt with internally, that also will be brought to the light.

Lastly, Daniel said above: “But I'm not aware of any case where hundreds of abusers were shuffled from place to place, with no apparent discipline or public disclosure, free to molest again.

I'm not aware of any public institution that had a consistent policy against reporting abuse cases to police.

And I'm not aware of any institution where dozens of these cases reached a city-wide, statewide or regional authority -- like a diocese or archdiocese or national level -- that pursued that kind of cover up."

It does happen quite regularly in the public school system. They even have a name for it. "Passing the trash."

Rood Screen said...

What was the "stated policy" of preventing abuse cases from "getting reported to law enforcement"? Did it have a title, and is it available online?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

JBS, not sure I understand the question, but at least in the state of Georgia clergy were not required to report sexual abuse until the early 1980's when we were mandated if we learned outside of confession. Bishops viewed their clergy as sons and thus did not report because of that status and in those places where they were not legally mandated to report they didn't.

However by 1987 Bishop Lessard formulated a diocesan policy that if a church worker to include priests was suspected of sexual abuse that this be reported to law enforcement and the priest procure a lawyer. Most dioceses prior to the 1980's had no stated policy in this regard, but today they do.