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Clerical child abuse still needs to be addressed: but it is now much more a question for society at large

The trouble with scapegoats is that they deflect attention from the real problem

By on Friday, 27 May 2011

A copy of the most recent John Jay report into the causes of the clerical abuse crisis in the United States (Photo: CNS)

A copy of the most recent John Jay report into the causes of the clerical abuse crisis in the United States (Photo: CNS)

It is time to return to the question of clerical child sex abuse. Since I last wrote on this subject, in the period approaching the pope’s visit (I was very concerned, as were many others, that this issue would be used by the aggressive atheist coalition to wreck the visit) work has continued within the Church to understand the problem.

This week, three separate documents have emerged which in their different ways contribute to this important aim, two from within or actually initiated by the Church, the other an entirely secular report which gives us the general context of the problem. I will proceed by presenting extracts from all three reports, with as little comment from me as I can manage.

I begin with “Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom: a Study of the Prevalence of Abuse and Neglect” published by the NSPCC. This gives the general background of this problem in society at large within the wider question of all maltreatment of children. This is what it has to say (under the heading “Who are the abusers?”) about who is most likely to be involved in child sex abuse:

“Numbers of respondents recording sexual activity with relatives which were against their wishes or with a person 5 or more years older, were very small: 3% reported touching or fondling and the same proportion had witnessed relatives exposing themselves. The other categories of oral/penetrative acts or attempts, and voyeurism/pornography were reported by 1%. Much larger numbers had experienced sexual acts by non relatives, predominantly by people known to them and by age peers: boy or girlfriends, friends of brothers or sisters, fellow pupils or students formed most of those involved. Among older people, neighbours and parents’ friends were the most common. Very few said that the person involved was a professional.”

Nowhere does the report refer to the Church or to Catholic priests, who, here at least, are simply not on the NSPCC’s radar. The second document, much more detailed, and specifically focused on the clergy (because that’s what the American Catholic bishops asked for) is a report by a research team from the non-Catholic John Jay College (who have a track record in this field). To read the report in pdf, again, you will have to google the title, “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010”. This report concludes, among other things, that

“The sexual abuse of minors is a pervasive problem in society and in organizations that involve close relationships between youth and adults. …. Although no exact measure exists for the number of youths who have contact with priests in the Catholic Church in a year…. Despite the media focus on child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, it is clear that these abuse acts are a small percentage of all child sexual abuse incidents in the United States.”

What’s interesting is that though both these reports by independent and secular organisations either state or imply that child sex abuse is part of a problem in society as a whole and not a particular problem for the Catholic Church, in other words that Catholic priests are no more likely than anyone else to be involved in it, Dr Pravin Thevathasan, the author of the third document on this subject to be published this week, “The Catholic Church & the Sex Abuse Crisis”, published by the CTS (who are, don’t forget, publishers to the Holy See), is not inclined to deploy this fact to get the Church off the hook. Nevertheless, there is now a growing willingness – as long as it is made clear that this is no excuse for the existence of this appalling crime within the Church, an organisation which ought to be an example to society at large rather than a reflection of it – to think seriously about what that implies for our relationship to a society which we now have small hope of influencing in this matter. As Dr Thevathasan concludes (p68),

It is true that the abuse of minors is rife within society. But we claim, by the grace of God, to be members of the one Church founded by our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and we are therefore called to a higher standard than that found in society at large. We are called by our Holy Father to enter a period of purification and repentance. There have been services of repentance and many victims have finally felt that they have been heard by the Church. May they continue to find the healing love of Jesus Christ.

He also opens his report (which should be widely read and pondered) with the same reflection (p3):

“In this work, no excuses will be offered in order to justify the appalling crime of sexual abuse perpetrated by a small number of Catholic priests – about 2 to 4% credible accusations in the United States and less than this in the United Kingdom in the last forty years – nor for the pastoral negligence of some bishops. To quote Pope Benedict, sexual abuse has ‘profoundly wounded people in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime’.”

But:

“The Pope has also said that the crimes of priests, while reprehensible, should be seen in the context of the times in which these events took place. Citing the rise of child pornography and sexual tourism, he concludes that moral standards in society at large have broken down.”

This is, I suggest, what we should now focus on. Continuing to reflect on our own involvement in this appalling problem, we need to understand that though, as the American researcher Charol Shakeshaft reflected in a report for the US department on Education which I have written about myself in this space, children are, as Dr Thevathasan also points out “a hundred times more likely to be abused in school than by priests”, and though this “does indicate that the sexual abuse of minors is significantly higher in secular society than in the Church”, we cannot be complacent: “this does not excuse the behaviour of abusive priests”, he insists. The Holy Father’s clear guidance is that the Church at large is still called upon “to enter a period of purification and repentance and of prayer for the victims of clerical child abuse”.

All the same, he says (and as I have myself already suggested elsewhere), “One of the immense dangers of focusing unduly on clergy abuse is that we might fail to protect vulnerable children in the wider society”.

For, the trouble with scapegoats is that they are designed to make society feel better about itself, and not to cope with the real problem thus shuffled off into the wilderness. Child sex abuse is a problem for society at large which it has barely begun seriously to address.

  • Anonymous

    Doesn’t really explain the ‘why’ we had such a profusion of clerical child abusers though does it?

  • Anonymous

    There is no need to wade through “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010″; it has been debunked by Miranda Celeste. It is an attempt by the RCC (who helped to pay for the report) to blame abuse on the sexual turmoil of the 1960s and 1970s, as if in those days priests did not have a clue about morality.

    And now we have yet another attempt to deflect blame, as if occurrences of abuse outside of the RCC were also backed up by massive organisations, with influence amongst lawmakers and law-enforcers, that also protected the abusers and despised the victims!

    What depths of depravity you sink to with such sophistry!

  • Jeannine

    I have read Hale’s analysis & other sections in her website. I won’t disagree with her analysis simply because I refuse to read “…another attempt to deflect blame…” from the bishops.  I do question Hale’s motives for analyzing it. Does she want to expose the truth to prune the Church of its dead branches? Or is she a woman with a vendetta against the Catholic Church? 

    I would suggest you read Sacrilege by Dr Leon Podles, a loyal Catholic. I have read his book. As far as I see it, his agenda is to prune the Church of its dead branches by exposing the truth. It’s a damning book & it does address the whys. You may also want to take a look at his website.

  • Anonymous

    What does it matter what Hale’s motives are? The way I read your post, you (as with the Vatican) seem more concerned about the effect on the Church, rather than the effect on humanity and, in particular, on the victims of abuse.

    So much of the criticism of child sexual abuse within the RCC has been dismissed as anti-Catholicism (in much the same way as criticism of Islam gets dismissed as ‘Islamophobia’). Not only is that is not an adequate response when the criticisms are valid, it is essentially evasive.

    Your use of the term ‘dead branches’ suggests that you do not think that there is a systemic problem in the RCC and you do not regard the Pope as in any way culpable for the facilitation of abuse. That view is not shared by me, nor by some law professionals who have seen implicating letters from the Vatican.

    Thank you for the reference to Dr Leon Podles and his website. Having sampled the book Sacrilege, I do not urgently intend to read it because it is based on a flawed premise which invalidates his conclusions. To discuss that premise on a Catholic site would probably be a waste of time because, in the religious mind, faith trumps all arguments that contradict that faith (or else it would not be religious faith).

  • Anonymous

    It is not the levels of the abuse that most people care about. Rather it is the systematic cover-up and knowledge that such dreadful crimes were being committed – in order to put the public-image of the Church before morality.

    Teaching morality being the reason for the Church’s existence, whereas other places where abuse has taken place – in some schools, in the houses of some families etc. are not explicitly formed to pursue and educate on morality, as the Church is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Gerry-Oates/100001523185239 Gerry Oates

    On the board of SNAP, a survivors group in the U.S.A.,is Peter Isely.who was once a seminarian in rural Wisconsin
    who had personal experience of abuse.
    He gathered evidence of thirty such cases: – video interviews,affidavits etc and took the dossier to Washington.There he visited the Papal Nuncio and handed over the documention.Twenty years passed by  and nothing has been heard from the Vatican.It seems that the procedure was to bury all complaints.
    That is the sort of thing,Mr Oddie,which has raised the temperature among the faithful.Anger is not directed at the 
    individual offenders so much as towards the failings of the hierarchy which suggest complicity.
    At Whitsun many Catholics will attend a Convention in Detroit and they have not been welcomed by the local church authorities who seem to think that some sort of permission ought to be  obtained before they can deliberate matters of concern to all.These delegates have been encouraged by the report from a Grand Jury in Philadelphia which took the local diocese to task for failures in child protection…it said that offenders had been shielded and victims had been negkected.There you have it !  The procedures adopted by the church have made the problems worse.

  • Weary Convert

    Maybe because they enjoyed it and were sure that, as had been the case for generations,  they would get away with it – knowing that the children could be terrorised into silence by top clerics such as the team which included the young Cardinal Sean Brady, and there was a Vatican determined to look the other way until it became impossible even for such as John Paul II to pretend it did not happen.

    There is almost unlimited verbal abuse on this website by the Catholic Ultras of non-Catholic Churches and their members. But lying behind the formation of so many of those Churches was a determination to tear down the structures of a corrupt Catholic Church and start again to create an honest Church.  Of course it did not work but at the present time, this seems an increasingly attractive approach to the Catholic Church as clerics wriggle and twist endlessly to excuse what has been done and covered up.

  • Anonymous

    You really think that’s the reaction and response?

    Oh most people are much more mercenary…they are seeking to use this clerical abuse to their own ends for their own agenda…
    Some will blame clericalism to justify ‘lay-empowerment’ , ‘conciliarity’ and a dismantling of the present hierarchical structure to be replaced with a more democratic paradigm – but this democracy is not limited to mere ecclesiatical administration – but an imposition of a relativistic democracy on doctrinal and moral teachings…

    some will blame it on homosexuality – and argue for solutions like a married priesthood, women priests, actively homosexual clergy – or the persecution and expulsion of homosexuals [active and celibate] from the clergy.

    some will blame it on the priesthood itself and seek its dissolution into a universal priesthood where everyone is empowered to act as priest, prophet and king – everyone who is baptised and confirmed can bring about the sacraments – justifying house masses and community lay-empowerment [the dutch dominicans are heavily into this]

    Let’s make one thing clear – It was NOT the Vatican which suppressed the abuse – they automatically suspended any cleric who was reported to them and engaged in a long drawn-out laicisation process [most of the reason for this was the simple fact that while still a cleric they had jurisdiction over the cleric and could have them exiled, force them to undergo treatment  and ensure they werekept away from potential victims.] But in the vast majority of cases the dioceses themselves BROKE Church Law!!!

    1962′s Crimens Solicitationis ORDERED reporting of cases within 2 weeks on the pain of excommunication and that dioceses were NOT to deal with these issues on their own – and let’s make this clear – it wasn’t merely clerical child abuse – it was also clerics engaging in homosexual sex, bestiality, those procuring sexual relations via the confessional[e.g. via blackmail]

    2001′s de delictis gravioribus reiterated it – all cases were to go through the desk of the CDF – not suppressed or dealt with on an episcopal or diocesan level…

    Bishops and diocesan administrations broke Church law – did all their covering up and suppressions and transfers and criminal activity – against direct Church laws and regulations…

    Don’t blame the Vatican – blame the bishops too frightened to protect their own credibility or bank balances; too frightened of the scandal, too worried that they weren’t as pure as the driven snow – blame them…

    http://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:VYLwo2NsxOUJ:www.sarabite.info/doyle-comment-11-1-06.pdf+ottaviani+1962+clerical+abuse&hl=en&gl=uk&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESghPgTOR9OcsKwP4YLDISD4C80JYEkPjk816zPD95kfXATUaYaPuvuyrBBdhDodz8Mc7n2npvpz5ubUZvXcvMa6GnCOBuNR5wL65H09YXa4APWm_Mxiu8D78ME6fS6rFbPV_Rfj&sig=AHIEtbTgfUqpeHnlpFkX6sj1qy-35nHzaQ&pli=1

    Where is all this alleged abuse by ‘Ultras’ of people from other faiths?

    ..and your argument that the formation of 139,000 different protestant sects is the fault of Catholicism frankly doesn’t hold water.

    Holy Mother Church is for sinners….usually a separation was grounded on what was actually a sin and how sinners should be treated – doctrine usually followed as an equivocation to get one’s own way on the former.

  • Anonymous

    I would suggest that the only alternative is one based on reason. Abandon reason and you abandon the means to make moral judgements – hence the historical and continuing immorality of the RCC and other churches.

    The RCC is actively engaged in opposing reason, encouraging children instead to have faith in unreasonable fantasies. In terms of its consequences, this is the worst form of child abuse.

  • Chrysostom

    At least in the USA there are detailed statistics of child sex abuse in the Church.  Not so in England and Wales.  The Bishops insist on keeping secret the number of victims who are boys and those who are girls ( and their ages) and the number of perpetrators who are men and the number who are women.  Why this secrecy?  The Bishops have still not learned that there must be openness if children are to be protected.

  • Anonymous

    Pathetic response – given this has become a world where reason has been utterly abandoned to relativism and pragmatism…how many scientists now talk absolute nonsense beyond their remit because they are devoid of a logical/philosophical grounding?

    Do you truly think Clerical abusers were among the faithful, devout believers? Or those who had ‘rationalised away’ their beliefs and their actions ?

  • Weary Convert

    Where does one begin? Your earlier paragraphs have a number of interesting ideas since, let,s be honest, the Church must have made a pretty rotten job of things if there are now 139,000 different Protestant sects (who counted them, I wonder?  Somebody with nothing worthwhile to do, I suppose). I presume that the list includes the Society of S. Pius X, one of the more recent breakaway sects?

    In your list of ideas that you dislike so much, why on earth do you single out Houses Masses for criticism?  I remember our having one in the 1970s: it was very pleasant, a good way for people to get together in a less formal atmosphere than in church and in its own way, a little inspring, reminiscent of the way the Church had to act in its early days or during Penal times. Come to think of it, I had not heard of them for some time, and would have assumed that this was because of the shortage of priests who do not have time to carry them out.  Now I wonder if this is one more move by the Ultras in their endless attempts to return the Church to the superstitious and arrogant world that they love so much, before the Council.

    Apparently it was not the Vatican that tried to hide child abuse.  But if that was the case, all Cardinal Ratzinger and co. had to do was, instead of messing about with long-drawn out laicisian, was to insist that every diocese around the world cooperated fully with the police and legal authorities and turn over to them every piece of information that was relevant to a child abuse accusation – with the authorities to decide what is relevant, not a coterie of priests.  Instead, the latest ruling from Cardinal Levada (I think) is desperately trying to continue to keep the information hidden within the church – and shredding machines are not expensive these days.   And I wonder that if the fault was with the naughty dioceses (staffed by bishops appointed by the Vatican), why was it that one of the very worst offenders – Cardinal Law of Boston – was whisked away to safety by John Paul to a senior and comfortable sinecure in the Vatican just as the lawyers were apparently closing in on him?  Sorry, but your defence of the Vatican is about as believeable as one of David Irving’s on the Holocaust.

  • Anonymous

    you’ve already made up your mind and evidence won’t alter your position – so don’t bother pretending you’re here to discuss or argue.

  • Anonymous

    An absolute moral framework based on enumeration could not, in practice, cover all the possible circumstances in which a moral judgement is required, and a theoretical list of commandments that covered every situation would be too long for anyone to read.

    As an illustration of a situation where a simple rule such as “thou shalt not kill” is inadequate, please read the story linked to here in which a lady nearly died because doctors would not abort her dying unborn baby.

    The alternative is to provide some basic guidelines to which reason must be applied in order to make a moral judgement appropriate to the immediate situation. This is not abandoning reason, it is the application of it.

    Thinking rationally can be difficult and error prone, but a major reason that it is not applied more often is that it is not taught well in schools. For such an important subject, this is a major denial of education. Of course, if children were taught the techniques before their religious indoctrination was attempted, more would see through the deceit. So I would agree with you about the need for a grounding in logic, and in philosophy (or objective philosophy at least).

    To try to answer the last part of your post: If you accept that everyone has their own unique religious belief (or is not religious), then a particular religious denomination is only a belief sytem to which its members approximate, and when a nominal Catholic behaves badly, it is then legitimate for other nominal Catholics to say “that bad behaviour does not consitute part of MY religion”, but the religion to which they are referring is not the standard version for their denomination. Their deviation from the standard may have been due to rational or IRRATIONAL thought.

  • Weary Convert

    My mind is certainly made up that the Vatican had it in its power to order all dioceses to cooperate fully with the legal authorities in accusations of child abuse.  The fact is, it didn’t and instead preferred the flim flam of complicated pieces of its own “legislation” which, I imagine, only have legal validity in Vatican City.  Everywhere else in the world, the Vatican laws have no more validity than the double yellow lines prohibiting car parking.  The opportunity was there for the Vatican to ensure that all dioceses came clean but it didn’t.  I don’t think it’s a question of “evidence” altering that posiiton. The chance was there, the Vatican funked it.

  • http://www.pastoralresponse.org Thomas F. Carr,M.A.,LMFT, LMHC

    Sr. Katherine Donnelly MFIC and I have been working on this issue since 1992, founding the Pastoral Response Assistance Team (www.pastoralresponse.org)  In 1996, we made a presentation at the International Congress on Child Abuse and Neglect in Dublin Ireland, entitled  Sexual Abuse and the Church; Professionally Assisting a’ Pastoral Response We made another presentation at the 5th National Congress of the British Association for the Study and Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect [BASPCAN],  in York, entitled Utilizing Proven Child Welfare Methods in Dealing with Clergy Sexual Abuse
    We are in the process of writing a comprehensive response to this seriously flawed report, not least of which is the fact that in cases that we were directly involved in Boston, were never properly investigated and the Jay report contends that “Diocesan leaders were more likely to respond to the sexual abuse allegations, using investigation….”. I was an independent court investigator for child abuse/sexual abuse cases at the Boston Juvenile Courts in the 80′s and 90′s. In 1994, I was actually threatened by the lawyer for an accused priest (later convicted) for suggesting that if there were three children who the perpetrator was accused of abusing, that there was likely more victim/survivors. There has never been a full investigation or an attempt to reach out to those individuals. Often, if there was an investigation, it was limited to a specific allegation and not to the possibility that the behavior of the perpetrator impacted more than one child.
    The Jay report also failed to take the opportunity, despite the report’s title, to truly explore “context”. It appeared that they wanted to place responsibility (read =blame) on society and the victim/survivors.
    While the Jay report did allude to important issues, like what professionals knew about sexual abuse and how to deal with the issue, they never even tried put it into context, seemingly utilizing it only to justify certain assumptions or actions made by the church.
    Context means considering multiple factors at the same time. For example, when did the abuse occur? Was it the fifties, sixties, seventies or more recent? What was the developmental age of the survivor when the trauma occurred? What did we know about sexual abuse at the time the trauma occurred? How would disclosure of the trauma have been handled if it was revealed at the time of the abuse, or even ten years later? Take the case of a twelve year old boy who was first abused in 1963, around the time of President Kennedy’s assassination. He was in the 7th grade at a Catholic School. The abuse went on for about one year. He first disclosed the abuse to authorities in 2003, at the age of 52, although he had told his wife ten years earlier. She was the first one he had told. He feels guilt ridden over the fact that other victims have come forward outlining abuse by the same perpetrator subsequent to his abuse. He remembers the abuse through the memory and cognition of a twelve year old boy in 1963. The time is emblazoned in his memory, because of the historic event.. How sexual issues were explained to him or understood by him at that time is less clear. Most of the information is now distorted by time and subsequent events.
    The Jay report also did not talk about the implication of a societal view of homosexuality at any one time, and the victim/survivors ability to come forward, The issue of the church’s current teaching on the matter notwithstanding and whether or not homosexually is predetermined or a growing “socially acceptable sexual alternative”, the churches inability (as well as society’s) has had certainly had an impact on when and if victim/survivors came forward.
     
    Context is a key issue, especially as we try and integrate what may have happened to adolescent in a different time with a different set of rules and a different criteria for what was “normal”. I think of the TV show Wonder Years which did a pretty good job of showing what a young teenage boy was experiencing through the eyes of the now adult with more experience as Voiceover. Real life doesn’t have a Voiceover.
    Sexual Abuse by clergy has been occurring since at least the time of St. Anthony who actually spoke out on the issue. Some of the reasons for the increase or spikes in reports seems clearly tied to professional’s attempt in the mid 80′s to educate the public and encouragement of reports to children’s protective services throughout the country. The spike in 1993 is in large part due to he media coverage of the James Porter case and several other cases at that time.
    I was outraged that any evaluator would pat themselves on the back and suggest that “other organizations should follow suit…to better understand the extent of the problem”.
    Purgamentum init, exit purgamentum , “Garbage in, garbage out”

  • W Oddie

    If Miranda hale were honest, she would declare her bias here.  Her reaction to the John Jay report comes from a dedicated atheist and enemy of the Catholic Church; it is hardly disinterested as is the John Jay report which is itself far from uncritical of past behaviour by Catholic bishops. If you want to know about this woman, go to the following atheist website  

    http://heathen-hub.com/blog.php?b=344  :  

    “There are newcomers to the ongoing revolutionary
    struggle debate, and their views are worth considering here. Let’s look at such
    a one: Miranda Celeste Hale (mirandachale), who blogs over at
    mirandacelestehale.net, and who is one of the lesser-known of the atheist
    movement’s footsoldiers, just like me. The attitudes she expresses are true of
    many of those who espouse the True Atheist and anti-accommodationist line, but
    she proclaims them very clearly, and it’s therefore worthwhile examining them.

     

    “Now, there are things Miranda Celeste Hale writes that
    I can very easily wholeheartedly agree with, but not where she has blogged
    about how much she hates what she calls “servile deference”, where
    she writes:

     

    Quote:

    “I’m really, really tired of skeptics who are committed
    to investigating and criticizing irrationality unless that irrationality is of
    the religious sort. I certainly commend anyone who devotes their time to
    combating irrational and baseless paranormal/supernatural claims, but there’s
    absolutely no excuse for excluding religious beliefs/assertions/practices from
    that inquiry and criticism just so that the skeptic in question can cling
    desperately to their own irrational faith and/or avoid offending religious
    individuals” 

     

  • Anonymous

    I must say that I agree with Miranda Celeste, not just in the quotation that you exhibit but in all the quotations that Gurdur criticises at heathen-hub.com/blog.php?b=344. In the quote that you supply, and in other quotes selected by Gurdur, Miranda Celeste is criticising inconsistency. Religion has not only proven to be undeserving of the respect that it demands, but is the cause of so much evil that this apologism must be tackled.

    “a dedicated atheist and enemy of the Catholic Church”

    should read “a dedicated pursuer of the truth and enemy of falsehood”. As I tried to say in my response to Jeannine, the response to a valid argument should address the argument, not try to criticise the arguer as a diversionary tactic (as you are doing here). The validity of Hale’s arguments would not change if they were uttered by Attila the Hun (if he were alive).

  • W Oddie

    Are you an atheist footsoldier, too? The bias is important. I don’t keep mine secret: she does. How about you?

  • Jeannine

    Hale’s motives for critiquing the report are ultimately important. Is she trying to investigate for the truth in a calm, rational manner or is she using her “analytical skills” clouded by her obvious emotional & anti-religious bias. It’s all about credibility and Hale has none. Neither do you.

    BTW I generally value the opinions on the Catholic Church & religious issues of Sociology Professor Rodney Stark, a calm, rational, self-proclaimed atheist. (I don’t think he has written anything on the abuse scandals.)

  • Jeannine

    “Is she trying to investigate for the truth in a calm, rational manner or is she using her “analytical skills” clouded by her obvious emotional & anti-religious bias.”

    It should be written as “Is she trying to investigate for the truth in a calm, rational manner or is she using her “analytical skills” clouded by her obvious emotional & anti-religious bias to justify her own beliefs?”

  • Anonymous

    Facts are facts, whether expressed in anger or not. In common with William Oddie (in his responses to my comments), you are attempting to dismiss facts by criticising the messenger. Criticise all you want; the facts remain.

    I realise that this may be difficult for a religious person to understand, considering that religion relies on the denial of inconvenient facts. It is this irrationality that makes religion so dangerous. You are, in effect, criticising Hale for being anti-danger!

    Another trait of the religious is to make stuff up and consider it to be on par with the results of painstaking scientific investigation. You suggest that Hale’s analytical skills are clouded, yet you don’t disagree with her analysis, so where is the evidence for this clouding? Don’t tell me that you don’t need evidence because you rely on feelings…

    Let me quote to you the words of former Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe who has admitted molesting two of his nephews: “I don’t have the impression at all that I am a paedophile,” he said. “It was really just a small relationship. I did not have the feeling that my nephew was against it, quite the contrary. It was not brutal sex.”

  • Jeannine

    I have known what was going on since the 1970s when I was a young teenager, but did not know the full extent of the abuse until the 2002. We may never know the true rate of clerical abuse since many of the abusive priests have died. Podles in his book is honest enough to admit that, giving rational reasons why.

    I am still waiting for the American bishops to admit full culpability instead of commissioning public tripe. Since I mentioned before that I refuse to read their latest report, how can I possibly agree or disagree with any of Hale’s points which I believe I have implied? One thing I do notice in your postings is that you can not seem to believe that religious persons can have lucid thoughts. Why is this part of your flow of conversation in this blog? Totally unrelated to the topic. It’s almost as if you are trying to defend your views by disparaging others because they question the motives of an atheist, who is no friend of any religious institution especially the Catholic Church.While there are many who are horrified about the filth that took place during these past decades, understand it does not represent the Catholic Church in its entirety & are trying their best to remedy the situation as best as they can so that it never happens again. You on the other hand, can not seem to separate the crap from the good. ——-How very small-minded of you!BTW, I have a graduate degree in Statistics, worked in various industries for quite a few yrs. Hale has one in English teaching at a community college. Who do you think is more credible? Hint: not Hale. 

  • Anonymous

    Another atheist had this to say, which is rather less harsh than what many Catholics have said:

    http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/8360/

    Another article by him, here – http://www.spectator.co.uk/essays/all/7060408/confessional-culture.thtml

    elicited this response – http://stavvers.wordpress.com/2011/07/01/brendan-oneill-is-still-a-weeping-syphilitic-chode/