A lot has been said about the Clerical Child Abuse scandals gleefully reported tabloid style by the media. Sadly the opinions of many(even Catholics) has been moulded by biased reporting by the mainstream news media which seems to be motivated by a desire to bring the Catholic Church down. I thought I would never have to write on this here but I am Catholic and cannot keep silent. I have seen my comments along with similar ones of others being moderated out on the BBC’s World Have Your Say blog and CNN’s In the Field blog for lame reasons (‘too long’ explained Nuala McGovern of the BBC in an Email sent to me). The ideas in these article were put to gether from a string of comments (9) on the BBC Have your Say’s Facebook page.
First things first: Pedophilia is EVIL. The catholic Church has always taught,teaches and will continue to teach this even when the likes of the Party for Neighbourly Love, Freedom, and Diversity (Partij voor Naastenliefde, Vrijheid en Diversiteit, PVND, ) have their way in Netherlands and the rest of the world and pedophilia becomes as acceptable as homosexual acts once ,considered as wrong, now are. By the way the one in the forefront of the fight against PVND is Fr. (yes, Father as in Catholic Priest!) Fortunato di Noto . This kind of information seems to be missing from the sensational news reports.
Here are a few falsehoods propagated and insinuated by the major news media that can easily be broken down if only people were more interested in the truth than in hearsay:
That pedophilia is rampant/widespread/endemic in the priesthood.
While even a single case of pedophilia in the priesthood or in the whole world is one to many to call it widespread is a falsehood easily shown by simple statistics:
In the United States a study was carried out, for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice ( ‘I’m surprised’ the ‘journalists’ at the BBC CNN and New York Times haven’t) according to the study:
the total number of Catholic priests and deacons in the United States who have been accused of sexual abuse of children is 4,392…2.7% of all the priests in the US.
Similar of even lower percentages can be produced for Germany(of the 210,000 registered cases of sexual abuse in Germany since 1995, only 94 are related to people or institutions of the Catholic Church, 0.045%)., Ireland, Brazil etc. To label any group of people as paedophiles based on such a statistic is simply unfair if not downright libelous.
That pedophilia is peculiar/most common/occurs only among catholic priests.
The most recent “Child Maltreatment” report compiled by the US Department of Health and Human Services identified 60,253 different perpetrators of sexual abuse of minors in the U.S. during 2008. Statistics from all 50 states show 56% were parents or other relatives and 8.8% were a parent’s unmarried partner. The category “other professionals”, which includes “clergy, sports coach, camp counselor, etc.”, accounts for 349 perpetrators (0.6%).
Again the devil is in the statistics which is also similar in other parts of the world. How does less than 0.6% of all abuse cases merit the thesis bandied about by the ‘expert reporters’?.
That many priests are paedophiles because they are not allowed to marry…
The lamest of them in my opinion and the one always suggested recommended in the reports. See above for the statistics that blows away this claim
Clerical Scandal is a problem of Celibacy…Celibacy not lived faithfully. Does anyone seriously think that marriage is a cure for wayward sexual tendencies? (Ask Tiger Woods and John Terry). The Priest who are guilty of this scandalous crimes will be just as likely if not more likely to do the same outside the priesthood. It is because of these kinds of sins that the church insists on the very attainable virtue of chastity and gets criticized for it. If you read the John Jay report you would notice that most of the reported cases occurred in the decades 60-70; the years when the even more widespread dissent from church teaching (especially regarding sexual norms) by priests and theologians along with the BBC, New York Times, Planned Parenthood et.al was upon the church. In those heady days of the sexual revolution there ere quite a few who saw the taboo of ‘loving’ very young girls or boys as one of the ‘shackles’ to be broken (remember Lolita?). We are in the Church reaping the fruits of this as, I insist, one incident is one too many.
We cannot therefore trust Priests or the Catholic Church as the educators of our children
Ditto all teachers and educators especially in state-run institutions…
Here is a 2004 Department of Education report on “Educator Sexual Misconduct”, which estimated that 9.6 % of pupils are targets of sexual misconduct by teachers or other school staff sometime during their school career another piece of information left out by the ‘reporters’
Here are some interesting excerpts
‘Few students, families, or school districts report incidents to the police or other law enforcement agencies. When criminal justice officials are alerted, it is almost always because parents have made the contact. […]As one consequence, abusers are subject only to informal personnel actions within the relative privacy of school employee records.’
None of the abusers was reported to authorities and only 1 percent lost their license to teach. […] 15 percent were terminated or, if not tenured, they were not rehired; and 20 percent received a formal reprimand or suspension. Another 25 percent received no consequence or were reprimanded informally and off-the-record. Nearly 39 percent chose to leave the district, most with positive recommendations or even retirement packages intact. Of those who left, superintendents reported that 16 percent were teaching in other schools and that they had no idea what the other 84 percent were doing.’
(this is from a 1994 investigation which identified 225 teachers in New York who had admitted to sexually abusing a student)
The overlooked purposely hidden homosexual dimension
80% of the reported cases in the John Jay report were on boys. (Now that’s endemic)
Well maybe this is why the Church tries to keep and should men with homosexual tendencies who are not willing to fight it but see it as their identity from the priesthood…and is criticized by the same media for it!
The Cover ups
The alleged cover ups are the most painful part of the whole thing…But let us get things clear…coverup from who?
Is a protection of the accused who is innocent until proved guilty while the allegations are investigated coverup?
What happens if someone (priest or not) has been accused of abuse and found to be innocent after everything. Surely some if not many priests have actually been falsely accused. There are cases when the victim identifies the Priest from memory alone after decades and not knowing the name of the priest at the time. Or cases where a teen of 16-17 years with a crush on a priest accused him because attempts to seduce the priest was rebuked. The accused has a right to his good name until proven guilty. Also the church never prohibits the cases from being reported to civil authorities.
Mistakes were made and things were not properly done (and the Code of Canon Law is clear on these things), but more than any other institution the Catholic Church has been the one who has done the most in accepting that the scandals have occurred, apologizing (most times with a lot of money) and taking on the crises head on and from the root.
Here lies the real motivation behind the attacks…
Bishops were not obliged to send cases of priests accused of abuse to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith CDF until 2001 with John Paul II’s motu proprio Sacramentum Sanctitatis Tutela. Before then only cases where the sacredness of the confessional was abused were referred to the CDF which was why the infamous Fr. Murphy case got to Rome. Since then one can say that hard action has been taken. Benedict XVI has contributed to the solution than to the problem. This is clear in the fact that clerical abuse is falling and this whole hype is based simply a digging up of events (mostly anecdotal) that happened decades ago.
This scandal has done a lot of harm as all scandals do. One sees why Jesus Christ pronounced such hard words against those who cause his ‘little ones to fall’. But what should be the Catholic response? First, humility we are capable of such but for grace (don’t we deserve our own millstones?). We also need faith; faith in the holiness of the Church which is not because the members are holy but because it head -Christ- is all-holy. Even if the Pope is shown to be guilty of these abuses the above statement will remain true (there have been Popes in the past who were ‘sinners’). Even this ‘effect’ is being hyper inflated by the media.
Nixon was hated by the media mainly because he appealed over the heads of the ‘opinion-formers’ in the media to the ordinary, unfashionable, family loving, church going ‘middle americans’. And he had to go down for that…and the media made sure of that with Watergate.
One doesn’t need to look too hard to see that the mainstream media doesn’t like Benedict XV: in 2005 he was attacked for having been enrolled by force in the Nazi youth; in 2006, it was his citation of a Byzantine emperor was taken out of context; then he was branded a homophobic for saying in his annual Christmas message that the distinction between men and women is central to human nature, and this order, set down by creation, should be respected. In 2009 it was his comments on the way to Cameroon that condoms were not the solution to the AIDS (as if it wasn’t true). Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church consistently go against the ideal the mainstream media stand for, and he knows how to defend his faith. This scares the crap out of the self-styled ‘experts’ who feel that only dumb and dis informed people disagree with them. When the see they can nail the church on matters of promiscuity they can help climbing over themselves in the rush to weaken the moral authority of the church on these issues.
But of course we shouldn’t be surprised. Jesus himself predicted this (John 15:18-19).