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Like everyone else 30 years ago, the Church failed to understand paedophilia

Some respected campaigners even regarded it as a civil right

By on Monday, 18 October 2010

Over the weeks before the papal visit, during which unprecedented attacks on the Catholic Church (as a supposedly endemically paedophile organisation) and the Pope in particular (as being allegedly guilty of repeated cover-ups of priestly child abuse) formed the most frequent articles of indictment used by the vicious atheist campaign against the visit, most of us could not imagine how it would ever prove to be the dazzling success that it was, or how the Holy Father would ever so gently reduce Dawkins, Tatchell et al to utter irrelevance.

The charges against Pope Benedict in particular had been seen by most of the media not to stand up to close examination. But that left the shame of the Catholic Church over child abuse by a tiny number of its priests, and the cover-up and the moving on by a number of dioceses of priests accused of this detestable crime.

I argued, some of you will remember, that the percentage of clergy involved is no higher than that in other religious denominations or in the population at large, with one notable survey emanating from Stamford University claiming that it was actually smaller (between three to five per cent of priests against eight per cent of males in the American population). That doesn’t make it any better for the victims of clerical abuse, of course: but we need to understand that the scandal is not that our priests are particularly prone to child abuse, but that we are all too representative as a sample of the population, when we should be setting an example to it.

Nor even is the accusation against some bishops, that they covered up the abuse and moved the perpetrators on, actually untypical of secular behaviour (cf for example, the American school system: though, again, it is not therefore in any way excusable). I have argued all this before, and those who want my evidence and arguments must go to my previous blogs on the subject.

There is one further point that needs to be made, however. Most of the cases of paedophile or (more often) ephebophile (teenage) sex abuse that have emerged over recent years took place decades ago, many in the 70s and 80s, when a very different view was taken by some of what we all without exception now know to be both a revolting crime and a sexual perversion particularly resistant to treatment or therapy. There really were some people who actually thought that paedophilia was a civil right. I was reminded of this by an accusation, made somewhere in cyberspace recently, against politicians supposedly guilty 30 years ago (I say nothing about whether this accusation was justified or not) of complicity in supporting paedophile organisations now long since dead.

Certainly at the time public support for paedophilia, though subject to hostile attack in the press, was not unknown. In the early 80s, the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), according to the Daily Telegraph, “wanted the age of consent to be lowered to 14 and incest decriminalised. It also defended self-confessed paedophiles in the press and allowed them to attend its meetings… Among the groups affiliated to NCCL were the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation, whose members argued openly for the abolition of the age of consent.”

Nobody says that the response of the Church was in any way adequate. But it did know that paedophile and ephebophile behaviour were profoundly wrong. What the Church didn’t understand any better than anyone else did was its nature. As a result, too many bishops thought that a combination of penitence and therapy (which we now understand rarely works) was a proper response.

To the dreadful pain and lasting damage of too many victims, they were wrong, utterly wrong. But these were almost unimaginably different times. We have all, and not least the Church, moved on. We need to understand that.

  • Prw52

    Yes, we must move on. Just like the Jews have moved on since the Holocaust. Nonsense. The Church hasn't moved on from anything. The abuse was the direct result of Vatican II–lax seminarian standards were initiated which resulted in the mess. Has this standard changed? Has the twisted, modernistic design of parish churches been abandoned? Have the devotional statues been replaced that were destroyed by my local church? Has the ancient Latin Rite been reinstated in ALL parishes? Has the influence of the Masonic, Jewish, and Protestant originators of Vatican II been overcome? Has the wayward apologies of Koran-kissing anti-popes been diluted? Will once-sacred music be heard again over the furor of guitars and drums? Will the Holy Eucharistic NOT be placed in the hand? Will the ridiculous “handshake of peace” be gone forever at the Consecration of the Mass? Will the altar be turned around to face God instead of the people? Will the sacred Latin be used as it had been for near two thousand years? Until these issues are reversed, the so-called “unprecedented attacks” on the Church shall continue. The Church is going to have to learn what President Obama will soon learn: the faithful have had enough!

  • Dave

    You really need to get the facts correct. First, your statement about “that the percentage of clergy involved is no higher than that in other religious denominations or in the population at large” is based on what the Church has reported. It is based on their own internal investigation and self reporting. In the USA, there were 7 dioceses that were investigated by an independent source (either district attorney or grand Jury). In all 7 cases, the percentage of abusive clergy was nearly double what those dioceses had reported in the Church's internal investigation. All 7 showed a consistent 10% of abusive priests. It makes you wonder about the self-reporting of the other dioceses and their honest reporting. It also shows that those dioceses that were investigated, the percentage of abusive clergy is above the general population. Please lets not base our facts on what the Church self-reports. They have a vested interest ins keeping the percentage low.

  • Brian Westley

    What a horribly self-serving article; the main problem has always been how the RCC stonewalls criminal investigations, often with the cooperation of the local police. The vatican still refuses to issue clear orders to have all allegations of illegal activity investigated by police — not “investigated” by clerics who, at best, are rank amateurs at criminal investigation and at worst have a vested interest in covering up wrongdoing.

    The solution is simple. All criminal allegations need to be investigated by local law enforcement. That's what they're FOR.

  • Bwaj

    I really think you should shut up Dave because you are totally uninformed on this subject.

  • Bwaj

    It has nothing whatsoever to do with Vatican II – such cases are higher among Protestants, non-Christian religions, secularism and in the Catholic Church before 1978 when Pope John Paul II became Pope.

  • Jack Barry

    Notable Catholics wrote with harsh clarity and understanding about the problem of sexual abuse nearly 1000, 500, and 50 years ago – St. Peter Damian (Book of Gomorrah 1049), Pope Pius V (Horrendum 1568), and Father Fitzgerald (letters 1950s-60s). Dismissing responses of recent decades on the grounds of ignorance by their successors is unsupportable in an institution that claims such strong devotion to history, tradition, and wisdom from the past.

    You misrepresent the implications of recent events. What is known is that many recent _reports_ of abuse concern incidents that occurred long ago. For understandable reasons which many describe, victims are not inclined to report promptly when abused. Unless you assume that, somehow, the human nature of deeply wounded victims has just changed in some fundamental ways, most youngsters being abused this afternoon should not be expected to find the strength, courage, and inspiration to report the crime for many years.

    The truth could free us all.

  • Bwaj

    I suggest you read 'THE JOHN JAY REPORT' which was conducted by


    'PETER TATCHELL AND THE PAEDOPHILE BOOK' (20 February 2010) tells us Tatchell wrote a chapter titled 'Questioning Ages of Majority and Ages of Consent' in the 1986 book 'THE BETRAYAL OF YOUTH: Radical Perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex, and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People' which was edited by Warren Middleton 'vice-chairperson' of the Paedophile Information Exchange Peter Tatchell's chapter preceded a chapter by Roger Moody titled 'Ends and Means; How to Make Paedophilia Acceptable'. A list of chapters and their authors can be found here and more information on the book's contributors can be found here:

    'Peter Tatchell – What a Hypocrite!' (12th September 2010)
    'Question: Who said: 'Not all sex involving children is unwanted and abusive'? Answer: The Pope's biggest British critic'


  • Bwaj

    We do not have any 'anti-Pope' – however, heretics who claim any Catholic who does not use the extraordinary form of the Mass is damned should repent before he ends up in Hell.

  • Bwaj

    'THE JOHN JAY REPORT', is known fully as 'The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States' was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

  • Bwaj

    Utter lies

  • Prw52

    Well, as far as my ending up in Hell, Bwaj, I have less to worry about than child molesting priests and the Popes that hid the abuse. As the Virgin Mary warned in many apparitions, the Modernist infiltration of the Church (a direct result of Vatican II), is responsible for the current problems facing the Church.

  • Christinemariehickey

    There is so much distortion, incorrect information, rewriting of history, false statistics, and pure nonsense in this article that I wouldn't know where to begin to refute it all. This unprofessional attempt at journalism literally makes me feel ill. I hope that no reader accepts this man's opinions as fact, as he is clearly biased, misinformed, and apparently comfortable with going to any measure to try to make his point.

  • Ted


    If you have any sources that we can read about the level of abuse being twice that reported I would certainly be interested to read them.


  • John A Brown

    The following gives a present day view and understanding of the experience of survivors of clergy abuse and the continuing cover up.

    Be shocked by the global estimates of the numbers of those sexually abused by Catholic clergy.

    A brief review of the available literature of 30 years ago will show that this issue was well know and described. It is only the Catholic church which has this tainted view. There were many who wrote on the Briggs and Alice Miller are 2 that come to mind, however there were many others.

    Oddie is entitled to his religious beliefs, however he crosses the line when he attempts to distort history to suit his religious agenda

  • Saunders9

    If anyone (including a priest) abuses a child he should be prosecuted. I can't think of a more heinous crime than this. All I here are excuses. The Church is a laughing stock over this, and some Catholics have stopped going to church because of it. I just think there is a false sense of forgiveness in the Church. I'm all for forgiveness but that don't mean even priests are above the law. But as St Paul said, 'in the last days people would have a form of godliness, but deny it's power. Avoid them!' Priests who can abuse children are frauds, excommunicate them and prosecute them for the sake of everyone and especially the little children who deserve to maintain there innocence. However, from reading the article, nothing will change and I will have to keep on taking the anti-catholic abuse I take day in and day out about priests interfering with children, and all I can say, 'I do not understand what they do.'

  • Afrybarger

    See Richard Sipe's website

  • FrHeythrop

    “The abuse was the direct result of Vatican II”…in that case why did some of the worst abuse take place in Ireland in the late 1950s?

  • MartinT


  • Martini2

    Itdd that whilst those who lack mental capacity must receive the help required to safeguard their interests, the need for that help must judged in relation “to a matter”, i.e. it is

  • Martini2

    SoSorry, I can’t get this Disqus thing to work!

  • Bwaj

    You are talking sheer rubbish

  • Bwaj

    Excuse me? Only the Catholic Church not you says which apparitions of Our Lady are genuine and there are none I recognize where Our Lady refers to the modernist infilitrartion of the Catholic Church. A person is saved by faith in Christ and Baptism with water '”in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”'. And don't tell me Protestants who baptize with water using the Trinitarian Formula are not saved because even the Council of Trent declares anyone who rejects the Baptism of non-Catholics anathema.

  • Bwaj

    Excuse me? Only the Catholic Church not you says which apparitions of Our Lady are genuine and there are none I recognize where Our Lady refers to the modernist infilitrartion of the Catholic Church. A person is saved by faith in Christ and Baptism with water '”in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”'. And don't tell me Protestants who baptize with water using the Trinitarian Formula are not saved because even the Council of Trent declares anyone who rejects the Baptism of non-Catholics anathema.

  • Bwaj

    No, Brown – a Catholic priest made a pass at me when I was fifteen but I don't blame the whole Church or bishops for this. I still became Catholic in my 20s,in spite of this,because she is the true Church and once a person knows that if he either leaves the Catholic Church or refuses to enter it he is damned. I don't care what tripe you come out with because a lot of those who come out with these figures are telling lies to promote their anti-Christ propaganda. I don't believe abuse victims are entitled to compensation because the offerings of the faithful belong to God for the use of the Mystical Body of Christ – the Catholic Church. I haven't asked for a penny compensation and the moment a person mentions it I don't trust them to be telling the truth. It is you who are crossing the line by lying as I have actually read reports which prove – as I have written – that there are more abusers in other denominations, other religions and the secular world. As you refuse to mention them then it is obvious you do not care about abuse victims but are using what happened to them and to those who only had a pass made at them e.g. people like me to serve your own agenda.

  • Bwaj

    By 'the offerings of the faithful belong to God for the use of the Mystical Body of Christ – the Catholic Church' I believe these offerings should help promote the Gospel.

  • Bwaj

    As for the incident I referred to, contrary to what one reader above claims, I did not wait years to report it. I mentioned it to my Anglican priest the next day. I knew the Catholic priest because he attended oecumenical events and went to see him because I wanted to know more about the Catholic Church. My Anglican priest said he would mention it to a Catholic priest he knew (so he could look into it). It was looked into, the priest admitted what he did and was moved. He was sent I believe on a 'sabbatical' then transferred much later to a parish where an older priest knew his past and kept an eye on him, however, I have since been told he has not sinned this way since. Nobody on earth is perfect except Our Lord and Our Lady – so, I have already forgiven the individual in question (although it took a long time to do so).

  • Bwaj

    So, Mr. Brown whether you do or don't have an anti-Catholic agenda please bear in mind I don't like having other people claiming to know how I feel on this subject or claiming it is only a Catholic problem when it is not.
    It is for this reason I ask you and everyone on these blogs, if you believe as I do, that abusing minors (or even making a pass at them) to condemn it in writing unconditionally and I don't mean by claiming it is only a Catholic problem as it occurs in a higher number in other Christian denominations and sects, other religions and in the secular world.
    I will end this by saying I believe the age of consent for heterosexual sex should be 18 but non-heterosexual sex should be totally illegal.

  • Bwaj

    Session 7 of THE COUNCIL OF TRENT (3 March 1547) Canons On Baptism: Canon 4. If anyone says that the baptism which is given by heretics in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, with the intention of doing what the Church does, is not true baptism,let him be anathema.

  • Prw52

    Yours is a valid point. I agree that child abuse occurred long before Vatican II. I'm aware of the Irish workhouse atrocities that went on for at least six decades. Yes, the “smoke of Satan” entered the Church ages ago. Pope Pius XII argued that it began with the Reformation which he believed led to Modernism, secularism, etc.; my contention is that Vatican II was the culmination of such evil and proliferated abuses through the denigration of the Latin Rite, the trampling of Church doctrines (i.e., there is no salvation outside the Catholic Church), and lax seminarian standards. I believe that this was done with intent in the hopes of destroying the faith and instigating a New World Order church–something unnatural, something obtuse.

  • Prw52

    Have you no concept what it occurring within the Church? The Faith is being lost due to child abuse, tampering with Church doctrine, denigration of the Latin Rite, etc. Granted, you do not have to believe in Marian apparitions, but take a look at an apparition investigated by the Catholic Church and found basicly credible: Our Lady of La Salette predicted that “Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist.” What more needs to be said?

  • Lnewington

    There is a difference between a priest making a pass which still needed reporting for the sake of another as your brothers keeper, and abuse.

    Forget compensation for that, but the latter? Scripture, in the old and New Testaments referrs to resitiution for harm done, not just the turning of the other cheek, thats a misconception, a big one at that and rhetoric; The destuction of an innocent soul is all encompassing as Catholics, due to the deep spiritual element.

    It is also a pre-requisite for forgiveness in the confession.


    The claiming of diplomatic immunity doesn't stand very well for us either..

  • Paul Burnell, UK

    I'm sorry I don't buy this. As far as I can remember growing up in the 70s this has always been a serious issue. Its always been a criminal offence to molest young children – you don't a degree in psychology to know that. Even as a young kid I knew that – the magician who performed at my mate's birthday party was later banged up for “interfering” as we used to say with other kids. These bishops who say we did not understand it then are talking rot – surely the facts are shocking enough in any era.

  • Sukrutha

    Every time the subject arises as a topic of discussion, I do not have substantial data or rather have not read enough on the subject to defend priests and the catholic church as a whole. I do hope this will add to my knowledge bank. Thanks you.

  • Lucio46

    What bothers me is why are the therapists who sent these abusers back as being cured, and by the way it is still being done, and being placed among the general population not being held accountable for what they did and still do? A second question is why aren't those psychological theories that promote this behavior and those promoting it not being investigated?

  • W Oddie

    It isn't based on what the Church has reported. It's based on independent surveys by respected non-Catholic academics.

  • Bwaj

    Excuse me Lnewington but since you do not know the full account concerning what happened in my case keep your mouth shut. Secondly, a lot of those in things such as 'THE JOHN JAY REPORT' were in cases similar to mine. As for turning the other cheek – pardon me, but no-one has the right to disobey the Scriptures or do you believe you are above Jesus Who is God and commands this (St. Mtt:5). On the contrary – the Scriptures say nothing about the Church giving money because of the sins of her individual members. As for your claim 'The destuction of an innocent soul is all encompassing as Catholics, due to the deep spiritual element'. Are you claiming when a priest made a 'pass' etc.,.in my case I was not 'innocent'? Does the government pay children and teenagers abused by social workers, teachers,care workers compensation? What of politicians, physicians, journalists? What of youth group leaders? What of the members of other Christian denominations and other religions?

  • Bwaj

    Not in childrens home if you read the newspapers and the book 'The Fight for the Family: the Adults' Behind Childrens Rights' which shows many groups abused children in care – politicians among them.

  • Bwaj

    The P.I.E. was actually outlawed in the 1980s under Margaret Thatcher.

  • Bwaj

    It has nothing to do with Latin because Vatican II did not throw out Latin. Read Art. 36 of 'Sacrosanctum Consilium'.

  • Bwaj

    I will ignore your stupid and highly insulting remark that I do not believe in Marian apparitions – yes I do and probably more so than you, however, the Church while acknowledging Our Lady's appearance at La Salette has never approved the message which ends '”Rome will lose the Faith and become the seat of the Antichrist.”' St. Paul warns us those who run after visions separate themselves from the Church.

  • Bwaj

    Perhaps you should also read the following: 'SEX OFFENDER HEAD LEADS STONEWALL SCHOOL CAMPAIGN' (1 July 2010) and 'GAY LESSON HEAD IS SEX OFFENDER' (16 October 2009) Also 'Labour figures' bizarre link to paedophile groups' (20th June 2007) and 'SUPPORT FOR 'PAEDOPHILE' ROW JP' (6th April 2008)

  • Bwaj

    As you will read in 'Labour figures' bizarre link to paedophile groups' that these groups were connected to the National Council of Civil Liberties (NCCL) or 'LIBERTY' as it is now in the 1970s is beyond dispute. I also suggest you read 'THE FIGHT FOR THE FAMILY: THE ADULTS BEHIND CHILDRENS RIGHTS' and Stephen Green's book 'THE SEXUAL DEAD END' which expose this truth.

  • Bwaj

    Wrong Dave – 'THE JOHN JAY REPORT' was an independent study by a top American university.

  • Bwaj

    There is only one comment I need make Father, bad as it is, the figures published by the secular British media are excessively inflated.

  • Bwaj

    Utter rubbish. It is individuals like yourself who have caused the trouble within the Catholic Church. Pope Paul VI's speech on 'the smoke of Satan' refers to those who disobey the Papacy and Vatican II. There is no such thing as a New World Order church and will never be. You are placing the use of Latin which the Apostles never used as being necessary for salvation and not Baptism. Shame on you! As for abuse by priests – the Catholic Church has always condemned it.

  • Bwaj

    Modernism did not enter the Catholic Church through Vatican II – it entered by individuals claiming to know what Vatican II actually teaches – then calling this false perception 'the spirit of Vatican II'. If you disagree with Vatican II you must by default reject the veneration and invocation of Our Lady and the Saints, the purification of the departed, prayers and Masses for the dead, the Rosary and Marian devotions,not to mention you must also reject that the lay priesthood and ordained priesthood are not the same, that Baptism is necessary for salvation etc.,. Vatican II even condemns abortion as a sin and a crime. Need I say more?

  • Lnewington

    My reply was based on your comment. 'A priest made a pass at me when I was fifteen”.ect ect.

    As far as restitution is concerned in bibical time possesions were also classed as money.

    If it makes you feel noble by not accepting restitution if offered, well and good, you may have prevented someone from doing what is required scripturally.

    Don't feel ashamed for accepting it if you change your mind someday, on a pastoral basis.

    Read your scriptures and see what it says, and I may need to re-write my comment so you will understand what I said a little clearer.

    As far as the others you mention, where I come everyone is treated the same by civil law or legalities.

    Usually the church doesn't reach the courts.

    Be happy Bwaj you seem to have a strong faith.

  • Bwaj

    No Saunders9 – all I have heard are people trying to deny that occurs outside the Catholic Church and is an even worse problem outside her. Only Protestants believe they know we are in 'the Last Days' – the Last Days began when Our Lord first came to earth (Heb:1.1-2). We have the word of a Pope (St. Peter) on this (Acts:2).

  • JamesH

    So you're accusing the police of corruption then? In what country? Do you actually have evidence? Yes, we know it happened in Ireland, but your accusation makes it global (if I'm reading you right).

    You should really get your news from sources other than The Naugriad.

  • JamesH

    If the John Jay report is too tainted for you to trust, would you trust Newsweek and Ernie Allen, head of the American Centre for Missing and Exploited Children?

    The byline says it all: Priest Commit No More Abuse Than Other Males.
    Quote of the week: “Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations. Insurance companies that cover all denominations, such as Guide One Center for Risk Management, which has more than 40,000 church clients, does not charge Catholic churches higher premiums. “We don't see vast difference in the incidence rate between one denomination and another,” says Sarah Buckley, assistant vice president of corporate communications. “It's pretty even across the denominations.” It's been that way for decades.” /end