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Now we have real evidence – sexual abuse is not a ‘Catholic problem’

But we still have a fight ahead: the media are out to get us

By on Monday, 9 August 2010

Last week, I suggested that having comprehensively and repeatedly apologised for the small number of priests who have in some way sexually abused children and young people, it was time we moved on to the offensive against those who (often with an undeclared anti-Catholic agenda) continually assert that the Church is in some way particularly prone to this disgusting crime. I referred to a Newsweek article which said that “priests seem to abuse children at the same rate as everyone else”.

The fact is, however, that not only is the Catholic Church NOT an endemically paedophile organisation, the evidence is now emerging that, in fact, even Newsweek is exaggerating: it’s not that “priests… abuse children at the same rate as everyone else”: actually, according to Dr Thomas Plante of Stanford University and Santa Clara University, “available research suggests that approximately two to five per cent of priests have had a sexual experience with a minor” which “is lower than the general adult male population” – in which the percentage of those who have interfered with minors “is best estimated to be closer to eight per cent”. In other words, children who have anything to do with priests are between 1.6 and four times LESS likely to be abused by them than by anyone else.

“When,” asks the blog La Salette Journey, giving these and other details, “will the media acknowledge that the sexual abuse of children is not a ‘Catholic problem’?” The fact is, suggests the writer, Paul Anthony Melanson, that “the media are not so much concerned with the welfare of children as they are with unfairly portraying the abuse of children as a ‘crisis in the Church’ ”.  For example, the state school system in the US has a considerably higher rate of sexual abuse than the Catholic Church: according to a report prepared for the US Department of Education entitled Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature, “9.6 per cent of all students in grades 8 to 11 report… educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted.”  This report has been virtually ignored by the media.

But the penny is just beginning to drop. An article by Jim Dwyer in the New York Times reported (April 27) that the New York State legislature is now addressing the fact that child abuse is not only a problem for the Church, but for the whole of society. “Should it be possible,” asks Dwyer  “… to sue the city of New York for sexual abuse by public school teachers that happened decades ago? How about doctors or hospital attendants? Police officers? Welfare workers? Playground attendants? … To date, New York City has been publicly silent…. but sees the possibility of enormous expenses.”

Well, join the club, New York City. As Dwyer’s article points out: “Since 2004, Catholic dioceses nationwide have paid $1.4bn to settle claims of abuse, many from acts from the 1970s or earlier… Yet [he continues] there is little evidence to show there is more sexual abuse among Catholic priests than among clergy from other denominations, or, for that matter, among people from other walks of life.”

That’s the bottom line. This is a problem we share with everyone, though actually we are less guilty of it than society as a whole and are doing a lot better in acknowledging such child abuse as does exist. We need to get that, and the evidence for it, firmly into our heads. We have a battle ahead: we all need to be prepared for it.

  • W Oddie

    Cardinal Law was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston years ago, by JPII, because of mistakes he made over this issue. I think he has some kind of job in Rome now, and quite right too: the Church should use his talents. He made bad mistakes in Boston. That doesn't make him a monster: in fact I know from personal knowledge that he is is a good and devoted servant of the Catholic Church. The Catholic religion, someone once said, is the religion of the second chance. Or don't they believe that in Heythrop? “Fr Heythrop” admirably demonstrates the self-righteous vindictiveness of so-called “Liberal” Catholics. (for those who don't know, Heythrop is an apostate Jesuit college in London, which most faithful Catholics I know utterly despise).

  • catholic woman

    Look carefully at your hand when you point your finger at your neighbor (rabbis and imams and protestants) with this article – we know, that you know – that there are three more pointing right back at you.

    And that is why you apologists need dishonest articles(merely rambling undergrowth to hide your shame) like these to hide behind – while you yourselves are bereft of words and arguments of your own – or that of Jesus.

  • catholic woman

    > which most faithful Catholics I know utterly despise)

    Mr Oddie – Did you take a poll? Or is this another of your “insights”?
    It might help your credibility of you didn't make so many blatantly dishonest statements.

  • Marie Tremblay

    Warren writes, “We christians should be held to a higher standard. We claim to be followers of Jesus.” The statistics prove that we do just that. Which is why there is far less abuse in the Catholic Church than throughout society in general. But legally speaking (as opposed to morally speaking), Catholics CANNOT be held to a different standard. The law must be fairly applied to all.

  • Antonin

    “Please don't play with words. You are trying to excuse priests who abuse children.”

    No, he said nothing of the sort. He expressed the need for an accurate understanding of the scope and context of the problem, which is in no wise supportive of clerical sexual abuse. Honestly, this thread is a prime example of the bullying tactics and dishonest argumentation (One million victims in the UK?) that are the staple of America's Catholic malcontents.

    If you can't be honorable in debate you aren't worth listening to.

  • catholic woman

    And Julie – I hope as a good Catholic Woman you are looking out for the welfare of women and children and that you haven't just swallowed the Vatican line of shutting up the nuns (merely referred to as Sisters) and women and pandering to the priests (“Fathers” – how convenient for power and cover-up purposes!)

  • catholic woman

    “Trying to excuse” is not the same as “Said”- you can “try to excuse” with all kinds of rambling, dishonest arguments – as Oddie has done- without actually “saying”.When one is in the wrong one never “says” , ,erely “implies” or “tries to excuse”. And you loyal acolytes fall for the bells and incense …

    What makes you think I'm American?

    Go back and read the new Testament – where did JESUS mention celibacy or the Pope or male Priests?

  • Antonin

    “where did JESUS mention celibacy or the Pope or male Priests?”

    Now your true agenda comes out.

  • W Oddie

    I don't know why I even bother to reply to you, since it is obvious that you are a very silly woman so bigoted you don't read a word anyone says. But here goes again: the triumph of hope over experience. WHERE DO I TRY TO EXCUSE PRIESTS WHO ABUSE WOMEN? I have never done so and I never will: how can you justify telling such silly lies? And how dare you take the name of Jesus in vain in this blasphemous way?

  • W Oddie

    No, I didn't take a poll; I said “most Catholics I KNOW” despise it. That's true, and there's nothing dishonest about it. It's my opinion and that of those Catholics I know. Just as you describe yourself as “catholic” woman. That's your opinion: others may disagree–from what you say, there's very little evidence of it. You may be foolish, but I have no right to describe you as “dishonest”, just as from what I have said you have no right to use this word against me. Do try to use words properly.

  • Nattie

    Ah yes the very logical argument “just because there is no proof of a cover up just means they are good at it” Please!Also where is the evidence that Baptist clergy are still active after a credible accusation of child sexual abuse? From the link provided all were removed or resigned from active ministry. You can't just make blanket statements without any evidence to back them up. Evidence of Catholic cover up, victim intimidation, and moving pedophiles is readily available and posted on line from their own internal documents, Grand Jury investigations etc. Also, where do you get the information that more cases of Baptist child abuse involves multiple victims vrs Catholic abuse?

  • woman catholic

    Yes – I believe that celibacy, misogyny and the power and wealth of the Vatican are the cause of the fail;ure of the RC Church (and not overzealous reporting as you and Oddie are trying to say – irresponsible and ineffectual people always want to shoot the messenger rather than DEAL with the message.

    There's also Oddie with his sneering about “women” and Sr Maureen” now that he has given up on arguing about real issues!!

    It only makes me laugh to see the entirely predictable comments .Oddie even presumes it is “blasphemy” to disagree with him!

    I see he never mentions Jesus because he knows very well he is on the wrong nonJesus side in this!!!

    No more time to waste – you guys and your church as it stands is history! The rest of us must get on with remaking it in the spirit of Jesus.

  • woman catholic

    1. You know very few Catholics so you were able to ask the opinion of every single one of them about this jesuit


    2. You are a mind-reader

    or – and this is the likeliest

    3. You are a habitual liar

  • Peter Santos

    Three men who were abused by priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, have requested (through their attorneys) a federal judge to dismiss their case. Why? Because their case lacked merit.
    Jeffrey Lena, the U.S.-based attorney for the Holy See, said in a statement Aug. 9 that the Louisville lawsuit had “always lacked merit.”

    “This development confirms that, contrary to what the plaintiffs' lawyers repeatedly told the media, there has never been a Holy See policy requiring concealment of child sexual abuse,” he said.

    “The theory crafted by the plaintiffs' lawyers six years ago misled the American public,” he said.

    “That the case against the Holy See always lacked merit does not mean that the plaintiffs themselves did not suffer as a result of sexual abuse,” said Lena. “But bringing this case only distracted from the important goal of protecting children from harm.”

    You see, the anti-Catholic accusation that the Church covered up the abuse of children has “no merit.” Which is why the case is being dropped. It's time for those with an anti-Catholic agenda to acknowledge this fact.

  • Peter Santos

    You have no case. The hard scientific data do not support your conclusions. Additionally, as I just posted:

    Three men who were abused by priests in the Archdiocese of Louisville, Kentucky, have requested (through their attorneys) a federal judge to dismiss their case. Why? Because their case lacked merit.
    Jeffrey Lena, the U.S.-based attorney for the Holy See, said in a statement Aug. 9 that the Louisville lawsuit had “always lacked merit.”

    “This development confirms that, contrary to what the plaintiffs' lawyers repeatedly told the media, there has never been a Holy See policy requiring concealment of child sexual abuse,” he said.

    “The theory crafted by the plaintiffs' lawyers six years ago misled the American public,” he said.

    “That the case against the Holy See always lacked merit does not mean that the plaintiffs themselves did not suffer as a result of sexual abuse,” said Lena. “But bringing this case only distracted from the important goal of protecting children from harm.”

    You see, the anti-Catholic accusation that the Church covered up the abuse of children has “no merit.” Which is why the case is being dropped. It's time for those with an anti-Catholic agenda to acknowledge this fact

    Your anti-Catholic hatred is showing. Why do you not use your real name to comment at this forum? Because deep-down you know your accusations against the Church are unjust. You are not driven by a desire to learn the truth. Instead, you are motivated by blind hatred.

  • Antonin

    “No more time to waste – you guys and your church as it stands is history!”

    This ideology is why, for polemical reasons, you need clerical sexual abuse to be viewed as disproportionate, and why any discussion of the actual facts must be short-circuited. It is also why so many malcontents need to claim the victims as their personal property, and to accuse anyone who disagrees with your personal opinions of tolerating abuse and failing to recognise those who have been abused; this in a dispute over theology and ecclesiology. Using the personal pain of others in this way and for these ends is repulsive, full stop, and you pseudo-Catholics (indeed, you argue above against the papacy from a stance of sola scriptura; given this, you might want to change your user name to Protestant Woman) will be rejected. It is your brand of dissent the clock is ticking on, and not on the Church.

  • http://www.StopBaptistPredators.org ChristaBrown

    Well… you know what they say… you can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. There is plenty of proof of Baptist clergy abuse cover-ups on that website, http://www.StopBaptistPredators.org, but you've got to be willing to open your eyes and see it. You might start by looking at the box called “Collusions, complicity and cover-ups.”

    Nattie asks: “Where is the evidence that Baptist clergy are still active after a credible accusation?”
    Answer: As far as Baptist leaders are concerned, “credible accusations” simply don't exist. They make sure of that by refusing to have any person or place within the denomination that will take responsibility for assessing credible accusations, or for even keeping records on accusations. Meanwhile, Catholic canon law requires record-keeping . . . and that gives lawyers something they can uncover in lawsuits . . . and that gives researchers records that they can mine for data. And gee whiz . . . the Catholic Church even provided the funding for the John Jay study. However flawed that study may have been, it provided at least a baseline for beginning to see the extent of the problem. You don't see the largest Protestant denomination – Baptists – ponying up any money for anyone to study clergy abuse in their faith group, do you? But of course, it would be a hard study to make since Baptists don't keep records on abuse allegations. No records – no trace – no trouble — it's the Baptist way.

    As Nattie herself acknowledges …. much of the evidence of Catholic cover-ups derives from the Church's “own internal documents.” Their own documents came back to bite them . . . and rightfully so. But with Baptists, that sort of exposure is almost impossible because Baptists don't have any internal record-keeping system. What reaches the media light for Baptists is mostly only the criminal convictions (which of course is the smallest tip of the iceberg). But when those cases do reach the light (because there is finally a victim who reported early enough to be within the statute of limitations), we see the same patterns of prior victims who tried to tell church leaders and of victim intimidation. And how many more Baptist cases might eventually see the light of day if only Baptists would bother with the bare-bones step of record-keeping on accusations?

    This FOX news commentary is just one possibility for comparing the data that's available:
    And another article:

    Over a 20-year period, Protestant groups had an average of 260 per year that were reported to insurance companies and that involved minors being sexually abused by clergy or church staff. That compares to the average of 228 “credible accusations” brought against Catholic clerics during approximately the same time period and derived from Church records. By the time a case is reported to a church's insurance carrier, it is typically on the verge of litigation. I can't help but wonder how much greater than 260 per year number for Protestants might be if the largest Protestant group in the country — Baptists — would bother with keeping track of “credible accusations” in the way that Catholics and other major faith groups do.

  • Wkeevers96

    If it was an institutional problem in the American Hierarchy, then what we have in American “public” education (the meaning of “public” in America is the opposite of that in the UK), is far more systemic. Research by expert Carol Shakeshaft disclosed common jargon for allowing sex-offender teachers to quietly resign and obtain work in other districts: “Pass the Trash”. The statistics show that 12% of boys, and 18% of girls, will suffer some form of sexual abuse by a school employee between Kindergarten and the 12th Grade.

  • Wkeevers96

    Thank you, Marietrem. One thing of note, in terms of Malachi chapter 2, is that the Lord probably takes less account of our idea of public opinion polls and “democracy” (where millions are led around by the noses by the media and propagandists). The Lord is probably dedicated to purifying His priesthood of this scourge, and if the media have to succeed in portraying the Church as thoroughly villainous to the common people, for us to start out on a firm footing on square one, that may be the price we have to pay for pleasing Him first.

  • R_nebel

    This article simply serves to obfuscate the issue. The issue isn't that the percentage of priests who are abusing children is small. The issue is that the percentage of bishops who were covering up abuse is large (like close to 100%). The problem is the institutionalized coverup.

  • catholic woman

    You don't get to decide what I call myself – that may be difficult for you and others trained in Catholic male privilege to accept.Like the Americans say – tough! You can call yourself whatever you please – call yourself Ratzinger II if you like.

    Also “personal pain of OTHERS”. How do you know? Are you, like Oddie, a mind-reader? Perhaps like the Pharisee you are beating your breast and thinking that God has blessed you especially – with telepathic powers!

  • FrHeythrop

    So Cardinal Law made only “mistakes…over this issue”?… oh, well, that's OK I guess. I'm sure the Cardinal will accept my most sincere apologies.

  • W Oddie

    Antonin–there is obviously no point in answering “catholic woman”. She even says that “Oddie even presumes it is “blasphemy” to disagree with him”, when what I said was that it was blasphemy to take the name of Jesus in vain. I don't know if “Catholic woman” is even a woman; he or she is obviously not a Catholic of any description–”Catholic woman” is obviously some kind of pen-name. The interesting thing about “her” and all “her” posts (as indeed most of the openly and often hysterically anti-Catholic or “liberal” Criticisms of my piece) are their last ditch defensiveness. I think you've put your finger on it: “It is your brand of dissent the clock is ticking on, and not on the Church”. Anyway, all anyone needs to do is read what she writes: she discredits herself. Me, I've had enough. A decent, coherent argument deserves a response. But not this.

  • catholic woman

    I was a Catholic long before you ever jumped the Anglican fence!!

    Who the devil are you to decide who is or is not a catholic/Buddhist/Humanist/whatever – especially as your own grasp of religion/philosophy/ethic/morality – and even logic and reasoning seem to be seriously challenged.

    Tell us more about that mind-reader-poll you conducted of ALL the catholics you KNOW – I hope you don't mean that in the biblical sense.
    Maybe the church would have been better off if they had kept faith with Jesus Christ rather than compromise with Anglican blow-hards.
    It is interesting that people like you, and now Tremblay never mention JESUS or morality or ethics but only legal/statistical/material subterfuge.

  • not a converso

    I wouldn't talk of “silly women” if I were you – that kind of remark only brings more attention to the fact that you are a seriously silly man…

  • Fred Kief

    Yes, paedophilia exists elsewhere. But when catholic priests, the ultimate arbiters of goodness and decency commit such heinous acts, then it is a Catholic problem. Worse yet, when the bishops try to hide the crimes be moving the offending priests from parish to parish, then it stinks to heaven.

  • R_nebel

    “we're not doing that anymore…”. When you make statements like that you have as much credibility as Richard Nixon had when he told us that he had cleaned up the white house. One lesson that has been learned from “modern secular society” is that you don't let people regulate themselves. That is precisely what the Catholic church is trying to do. Frankly, being a Catholic I wouldn't let a priest anywhere near my children. You have a long way to go before you will convince those of us out in the pews that you have done anything to correct the problem. You haven't addressed the root problem which is that the Catholic clergy are accountable to noone but themselves. You may reduce the coverups for a time, but until you address the root causes they will all come back.

  • christine

    Law has “some kind of job in Rome?” Shouldn't you know all your facts before commenting on an issue. Shouldn't you know specifically which job he has? Law knew that priests in the Boston Archdiocese were abusing kids and allowed it to continue. He knowingly put children in harm's way. There are plenty of actual church documents which prove this is so. These are not mere “mistakes.” How can one be a “good and devoted servant” of the church when behaving in such a manner? Law should be in jail, not in “some kind of job in Rome.” He showed that he was “talented” at protecting the image of the church rather than protecting children. The fact that he was given this position in Rome far outweighs any hollow apologies made by the pope. Actions speak louder than words.

  • crouchback

    Excuse me. Who said all child abuse was rape..?? The Ryan Report …(Irish Government Official report)…. in to these type of crimes found that a very high number of alleged offences where reported by just one person against one other person. I haven't read the Ryan report, but one person saying that Father or Mister or Misses So and So abused …ME….is hardly likely to achieve a prosecution…..one word against an others…..with no other witnesses or accusers, and often years…decades…. after the alleged events. That is not how Rapists generally work. The Yorkshire Ripper, Fred West, and numerous sexual predators nearly always have numerous victims, repeating the same crimes over and over.

    This is not to say that there were no child rapes in the Catholic Sex abuse scandal, but that these types of cases would have been very much in the minority……I guess this is why when ever we see cases reported it is all ways…..”Child Abuse”….this weasel way of reporting makes every abuse……Rape…..in the mind of the wider public….the very large majority of cases were claims of brutality against overtly strict
    teachers and staff at Catholic run schools.

    Even I can attest to that. In the 1960's when I was at primary school we had a ferocious master, when I was 9 years old. This man had been in the forces during the second world war, he had two daughters who were also teachers in our primary school. When ever you crossed this man he would pick you up by the ear and punch one on the head with his free fist, middle bony knuckle to the fore…..”You Boy”…..dread words.

    In all my years at school, I left at 16, this man was the best teacher I ever had……..the rest were taken over by the “Spirit of the Sixties”…….I learned from him…..I never learned a single thing worth thinking about from any of the others.

    But his type of “Discipline” is the real focus of the vast majority of abuse claims.

    But look at how disciplined our society has become……thousands sitting on their buts waiting for their National Health Service heroin fix.

    They should be picked up by the ears and punched in the head…..That'll Teach 'Em

  • crouchback

    In America, according to the John Jay College of Justice there were between 96,000 and 109,000 priests working in America between 1950 and around 1999 or 2002, I cant remember which, but there were 252 convictions or there about's for abuse over a 50 year period. Give or take, I cant remember exactly. Google John Jay College of Justice report and see for your self.

    Meanwhile in Bonnie Scotland, which has a population of 5 Million or so, against the American population of 250 – 350 million for the last 50 years……I've copied and pasted this………

    In 2008/9, 963 rapes and attempted rapes and 6,331 crimes of indecency were reported to the police in Scotland…..

    These are the Scottish Governments own figures…!!!!…..For One Year….!!!!!!….I'm not sure how many of these crimes were committed by Catholic Priests……at a guess ……None, not even one, if I'm wrong please let me know……I feel I know some of you enough to say that I'm very sure you will…!!!!

    In Britain in the last two weeks there have been at least 5 children slaughtered by crazed parents, on average there are 3 children a week abused to death by their parents in Britain.

    Some studies in America seem to say that Thousands of children are killed where abuse is a factor every year…..I've seen figures stating that in 2007 around 1700 children in America died were abuse was a factor…..some Americans have cottoned on to these figures and are very upset about the . figures and who ever compiled them……I don't know……all I did was Google, and I got absolutely horrendous statistics……Much worse…..way off the scale of so called Church Abuse……

    But who wants to report that 21st Century man / woman cant bring up children……..for we all know about the failinga of 21st century man / woman……do we not….????

  • crouchback

    For we all know about the…..FAILINGS……not the failinga….what ever that is…???

  • crouchback

    Never thought of that……

    My wife was born…..”In the Colonies”….!!!! when I visited North America I was absolutely astounded to see my name next to my wife's baptismal record from the 50's…… Lord Crouchback VC and Bar OM, Nobel Laureat….quite the Grandest record in the Parish of Punxatawney PA……..

    Shucks….it was nothing, folks……..

  • crouchback

    John….you did forget to take your pills….???

    I hope you did…..

    Otherwise…..you are a moron.

  • crouchback

    No….how many Fathers, Mothers, Brothers , Sisters, Sons and Daughters…..cousins, Nephews and nieces out there know for a fact that family members are commitinf all sorts of crimes…???…..But they don't come forward and report to the police.

    Look at the Rhys Jones case in Liverpool a couple of years ago. A young boy, only 10 years old or so cycling home on a summer evening, shot dead in a pub car park, he happened to be crossing.

    The youth who pulled the trigger was eventually caught and jailed……but so was his mother….????

    The murderers family were known to be a tough, gangster like characters. They kept quiet…….and so did everyone else in the district….???? no body would speak out for fear of the Gangsters.

    In other words…..they all covered up………don't ever say…..YOU…..wouldn't cover up……..YOU…….maybe you haven't been asked yet……..at least not in ways that would catch you out…..

    But are you really telling me……that…..YOU, YOU, ……are never, ever going to be caught out….????

    I don't believe you.

  • crouchback

    Hmmm you are going to re-make the Church…….good luck…..

    Give us a bell, when you get the Latin Mass up and running…..I'll come and give you a hand then….

    But till then…….you'll need to re-write the Lindisfarne Gospels on your own………remember to wrap up warm after standing up to your neck in the North Sea all day long…..it wont make you any less frigid……but it might take your mind of gender politics for a tad….!!!!!!

    There's a good girl.

  • crouchback

    Silly Moo…????

    I'll get my smock….and my hayseed…….

  • crouchback

    Not so…..

    If I have a crime to report and I report it to a Catholic Bishop…..or an ….Army Officer…..or a ……Government Employee, then I suspect that a cover up is in progress…….Then I go to the Police…….

    In Fact…..why didn't I go to the Police in the first case……????. Nobody was stopping people reporting crimes back in the 20's or 30's or 40's…????

    It would seem that the vast majority of these things came to the fore in the 90's…..when people could see that they might get large payouts…..

    The John Jay Study says that around 10,500 …ALLEGATIONS…..were made against about 4,500 priests……..350 made it to court……..252 convictions………100 went to jail……..

    Why over 10,000 allegations, yet only a very few go to jail….????

    Could it be that the vast majority……didn't merit jail……or that they were entirely innocent of all charges..??

    Given all the lurid headlines……I'd say that some one was kicking up a storm, about a relatively Tiny amount of cases …..???

    And next week when we see some where between 3 & 5 children slaughtered by their own parents…….

    Will there be outrage on here …?????

    I doubt it.

  • John Ansley

    No Fred. Your ignoring the scientific date. It's a societal problem. And it's not a pedophilia problem, it's a homosexual problem. Why aren't you addressingthe far-greater problem of child sexual abuse across the general population? Because it's not child abuse that angers you, it's the Catholic Church's refusal to abandon her moral teaching.

    Have there been bad priests and bishops? Of course. These have betrayed the Church. But one cannot blame a Church of more than 1 billion people for the sins of a tiny minority of her members.

    No, this isn't a Catholic problem. The problem of homosexual abuse runs across our entire society.

  • http://www.molestedcatholics.com/ JohnB

    Being picked up by the ears and punched in the head may well constitute probable cause for so many of those sitting on their butts waiting for their National Health Service heroin fix.

    Seems that violence and abuse are the answers for and in response to violence and abuse – too many hits across the head perhaps!

  • http://www.molestedcatholics.com/ JohnB

    That was certainly a well thought out response – completely negates the figures and the research in one ignorant statement. Perhaps there is some truth to the idea that the more obvious the fact the more ignorant and ill-informed the denial.

  • W Oddie

    You wouldn't let a priest anywhere near your children, when the evidence (see Dr Thomas Plante, quoted in my piece, whom nobody has challenged because they can't) is that they would on average actually be safer with a priest than with other members of the male population? I too am “out in the pews”: and where I go to church, we trust our clergy.

  • christine

    How many “good” priests actively & publicly support victims of clergy abuse? How many “good” priests reported the crimes they knew or suspected were taking place? How many “good” priests have spoken out against the ways in which their church hierarchy enabled the abuse of children, and continue to minimize the problem? Very few. Shame on them.

  • christine

    Please see the following article for an excellent response Mr. Oddie's article.


  • Christine

    Beautifully said, Nattie! Thank you.

  • Angel2468

    The 'media bias' argument is bound to lose
    Catholic Culture

    By Phil Lawler | August 10, 2010

    Writing for London’s Catholic Herald (which he once edited), William Oddie argues that the available evidence makes it abundantly clear that sexual abuse is a problem throughout society—not just in the Catholic Church. As he puts it:

    This is a problem we share with everyone, though actually we are less guilty of it than society as a whole and are doing a lot better in acknowledging such child abuse as does exist. We need to get that, and the evidence for it, firmly into our heads.

    That’s undeniably true. But it’s an awfully difficult argument to get across—and not only because the media harbors an active bias against the Church. So difficult, in fact, that I question whether it’s prudent to make the effort.

    When an individual caught in wrongdoing claims that “everybody’s doing it,” we regard that as a lame excuse, and rightly so. Coming from the Catholic Church– the Bride of Christ—the argument that we’re no worse than the rest of society sounds particularly hollow. We set higher standards for conduct in the Church. If society at large expects more virtue from Catholic priests, that’s a compliment, and we should welcome it.

    We know, and we should certainly continue to point out, that child abuse occurs throughout society. We know and should point out that other institutions have failed to come to grips with the problem. We can and should lobby for the safety of children in all phases of life—in public schools, in urban subway systems, and in the womb. Indeed one of the more painful aspects of the scandal is the way that it has damaged the public standing of Church leaders, making it more difficult for them to speak out when they should come to the defense of innocent children.

    Still, we cannot respond to the exposure of abuse within the Church by remarking that there is abuse elsewhere, too. That response may be an indictment of society—and society deserves the indictment—but it is not a defense of the Church.

    Moreover, this line of defense lends credence to the mistaken impression that the abuse of children constitutes the whole of the scandal. Not so. The abominable behavior of abusive priests is only the first half of the scandal; the second half—the more damaging half—is the failure of bishops to curb the predators’ transgressions.

    The remedy to the current scandal lies not merely in “acknowledging such child abuse as does exist,” but in holding people responsible. If William Oddie is arguing that society at large should hold people responsible for the abuse committed under their supervision—whether it is in the Church or in the school or in the home or in the hospital—then I wholeheartedly agree. If he is arguing that Catholics should lead the charge to make everyone accountable, I agree with that, too. But in order to be credible leaders in any such movement, we Catholics must first hold our own leaders—the bishops—accountable for their appalling mishandling of the sex-abuse scandal.

  • Anthony

    A very Impressive study indeed but most lamentably a wasted effort as far as atheists are concerned. Since when did secular atheists ever take note of scientific facts in their relentless attacks on the Church? The fact that they are still mired intellectually in the science of the 19th century goes a long way to explaining their ignorance of the modern analytical methods of the 21st century.

    In fact atheists are the modern Luddites. They do not want scientific progress because it points increasingly towards God. Instead they prefer to remain in their permanent 19th century mindset, reluctant to move forward with the rest of the world for fear of what they may find. Cocooned as they are in their outdated worldview, they are no longer relevant to the modern era and, in desperate realisation of this, they lash out indiscriminately and irrationally at all things Catholic.

  • W Oddie

    I agree with nearly all of that. I didn't say it in this article, though I have said it elsewhere, because holding our own leaders accountable is already happening. The bishops have been and will continue to be held accountable. And of course, I am addressing an English audience (though of course the internet, as the responses have shown, is international. I did quote American research and journalism because there has been so much more academic work done in the U.S. than here). The problem has been much less serious in England, and I suspect has been more rigorously addressed–to the point at which it seems that any priest accused has to prove his innocence (almost impossible: and there have undoubtedly been many accusations, here and in the U.S. of entirely innocent priests). It also needs saying that our bishops, here and in the U.S. are not the only ones who have covered up. As Charol Shakeshaft has established, there is a good deal of covering-up and moving on of abusive teachers in the U.S. school system, and no doubt here; and I have no doubt that it is also happening, as the New York Times article I quote seems to suggest among “doctors.. hospital attendants …Police officers… Welfare workers …Playground attendants”. Covering up is certainly the norm where most abuse happens, in the family. The problem I was addressing was–and this is where Philip Lawler is wrong–is that it is the media who have decided to push the line that the Catholic Church is a uniquely paedophile organisation, that more child abuse happens in the Church than anywhere else. All I am saying is that THIS IS UNTRUE. Of course many bishops handled it badly, decades ago often through ignorance of the real nature of the phenomenon (we know now that penitence, even where sincere, is no protection against this condition), often through incompetence, or an ignoble longing for a quiet life. Of course we have to face that. But we are not alone in this, and it's wrong to say we are. So it would certainly be true that the “media bias” argument is bound to lose IF THAT'S ALL WE SAY. But it's not all we are saying. There IS media bias: and common justice demands that this be acknowledged and corrected.

  • christine

    Bishops have been held acountable? Really? How many have been defrocked? Prosecuted?

    How about the two bishops in Ireland who offered their resignation due to their role in the abuse situation? The pope yesterday said that he will not let them resign and will reassign them. Sounds like same old, same old to me.

  • christine

    Each time you state your “we are not the only ones” argument, even if that's not ALL you say, you appear to miss the point regarding abuse in the Catholic church, as Mr. Lawler said. “When an individual caught in wrongdoing claims that “everybody’s doing it,” we regard that as a lame excuse, and rightly so.” This claim appears to minimize the pain and crimes for which the clergy/leaders of your church are responsible. Even if that's not your intention, that is the result.

    Even if there is a media bias (and I don't believe there is in this case), putting your focus on that bias is misdirected and a waste of time, in my view. Real “justice” demands that all be put right in your church and the guilty be held accountable. This has not happened.

    Regarding bishops, if you review actual church documents, you see over and over that the bishops were deliberately trying to “avoid scandal.” They did not allow children to be raped because they “longed for a quite life,” were incompetent, or did not know that raping kids is a crime.. Evidence clearly shows they were self-serving, protecting their priests, arrogant and hypocritical.

    Finally, to repeat Mr. Lawler's excellent point: “Moreover, this line of defense lends credence to the mistaken impression that the abuse of children constitutes the whole of the scandal. Not so. The abominable behavior of abusive priests is only the first half of the scandal; the second half—the more damaging half—is the failure of bishops to curb the predators’ transgressions.”

  • catholic woman

    >this is media bias?

    Look at the catholicherald.co.uk website and banner.
    Under “Hot Topics” for easy clicking is…..


    Let's hear you spin this one Oddie…