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There’s no excuse for clerical child abuse: but it needs to be recognised that the sexual abuse of minors is more common in secular society

The danger of scapegoating the Church is that it has given society an excuse not to address the problem

By on Monday, 28 November 2011

Mgr Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse, kneels at a prayer service for victims (Photo: CNS)

Mgr Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's chief prosecutor of clerical sex abuse, kneels at a prayer service for victims (Photo: CNS)

I begin with an address given at the recent ad limina of a group of American bishops by the Holy Father, who began by referring to his last visit to the United States. One of his purposes in making the visit, the Pope said, was that he wished to recognise the reality of clerical child abuse, and

… to acknowledge personally the suffering inflicted on the victims and the honest efforts made both to ensure the safety of our children and to deal appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise.

He then went on to say that it was his hope

… that the Church’s conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community to recognise the causes, true extent and devastating consequences of sexual abuse, and to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society. By the same token, just as the Church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards.

Now this is not an emphasis usually to be found in his statements on the subject of clerical child abuse. But it was necessary to say it: that this is not uniquely a problem for the Catholic Church, even though we have been the first ones who have had perforce to confront it. Now, it is for others to do what we have done, “to respond effectively to this scourge which affects every level of society”.

For the fact is that though it cannot be any kind of excuse for the abominable crimes which have indeed been committed by a tiny minority of our priests, in the words of a headline in Newsweek magazine (April 10) last year – which I quote as being an irreproachably non-Catholic source, as well as being a journalistically respectable one – “The priesthood is being cast as the refuge of pederasts. In fact, priests seem to abuse children at the same rate as everyone else.”

It turns out, in fact, that even that didn’t go far enough: the evidence (of which more presently) is that Catholic clergy actually abuse them less than everyone else. But it’s worth recalling that Newsweek magazine continued by pointing out that “experts say there’s simply no data to support the claim [that the Church is “a refuge for pederasts”] at all …. based on the surveys and studies conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. ‘We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,’ said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.”

According to Dr Thomas Plante of Stanford 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 that is best estimated to be closer to eight per cent.” I repeat (for I know from experience that I will be hysterically accused of making excuses for clerical child abuse and of seeking to underplay the importance of the problem) that this is no excuse: the abuse of minors by priests should simply never happen.

But there is a danger, which the Holy Father has recognised, though he has not, rightly, unduly emphasised it: if he did, he too would be accused of trying to minimise the Church’s share of responsibility. The danger is that if we Catholics accept without contradiction the unjustifiable scapegoating of the Church which has been going on for far too long, we give society at large a ready excuse for not confronting what needs urgently to be confronted: which is that this is a simply massive problem, which society at large has not even begun to address. And that is appallingly unjust to the overwhelming majority of abused children, most of whom have never even met a priest.

A document published by the NSPCC, which I quoted on this subject earlier this year, entitled “Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom: a Study of the Prevalence of Abuse and Neglect”, 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.

Not everyone agrees about professional misconduct. According to a report carried out 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 contact and/or non-contact educator sexual misconduct that was unwanted”. The percentage of students who report experiencing sexual misconduct by teachers indicated that more than 4.5 million children were subjected to sexual misconduct by an employee of a school sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade. The report continued that “Possible limitations of the study would … suggest that the findings reported here underestimate educator sexual misconduct in schools.” The report’s author, Charol Shakeshaft, concludes, inter alia, that “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by [Catholic] priests”.

Again I repeat: abuse by Catholic priests should never happen. In the words of Dr Pravin Thevathasan in a book published by the CTS, The Catholic Church and the Sex Abuse Crisis: “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.”

The indications are, he finds nevertheless, “that the sexual abuse of minors is significantly higher in secular society than in the Church”, though he insists that “this does not excuse the behaviour of abusive priests”. All the same, he says “One of the immense dangers of focusing unduly on clergy abuse is that we might fail to protect vulnerable children in the wider society”. Now, the Holy Father has very gently suggested the same thing: “just as the Church is rightly held to exacting standards in this regard, all other institutions, without exception, should be held to the same standards.”

So far, that hasn’t even begun to happen; now, it should.

  • Jeannine

    Child abuse outside the Catholic Church is very bad. It involves not just the perpetrators but also those who are complicit (which can be even more despicable on a certain level). There are recent developments concerning college coaches, immediate family members, & even the NYC Hasidim community. 

    This is a worldwide problem & the Catholic Church is the only organization that I know of that is trying to systematically eliminate this abuse within its confines.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_INQNANAKOE6S2DYBREMFK4LDJ4 Loyola Alum

    In regard to Dr. Thomas
    Plante’s support of the Catholic hierarchy, Dr. Plante is an example of the
    Catholic Church getting an “expert” to shield the Church from taking action to
    protect children and the disabled.  Fr. Thomas Smolich (now the top USA
    Jesuit) said that Dr. Plante decided that Jesuit Brother Charles Connor, an
    alleged lead abuser in the $7 million Jesuit settlement in the abuse of two
    disabled Jesuit dishwasher employees, was not a threat. 

  • W Oddie

    Pretty weak. Even if true (and frankly, the view of America’s “top Jesuit” doesn’t impress me) it doesn’t in any way refute Dr Plante’s report (based on a survey of the existing evidence). And he didn’t in any way “support..the Catholic hierarchy”; it’s ludicrous to say that he did. He conducted an academically neutral survey.

  • David Armitage

    Dear Dr Oddie,
    you just don’t get it do you? If you agree that the Acts of the Apostles are part of the New Testament you should find a sane model. Local communities chose decent well respected family men to preside the breaking of bread. Elders. Presbyters if you prefer the Greek. From among them there were outstanding elders, who would advise and oversee.  Episkopoi. Not a histopry lesson dear Doctor. Just a reminder.
    Compare what we have today.  The scandal is that gerontocrats and hierarchs have taken over. Today’s lot are probable marginally better than their predecessors, but Jesus, it’s not difficult to be an improvement on Popes who decreed genocide and  who managed an amazingly imaginitive number of ways of infringing “de sexto et nono”. 
     Faithful and their children have been betrayed. The rot starts at the top. Was Benedict really unaware of Levada’s pastoral record, which has cost the dioceses where he was in charge millions of dollars in compensation. Perhaps he thought a poacher turned gamekeeper  would show the others how to do the trick.

    Churches stand empty, for lack of vocations. They say. Supposing we believe that vocations are about the Holy Spirit doing the calling. And the present Church, dependent on a corrupt banking system for the continuation of parish churches and schools, is deaf, or afraid. When this rotten lot have disappeared, arising from the compost we shall see a wonderful new church.
    There are precursors. Sancte Oscar Romero, ora pro nobis, Sancte Rutillo Grande, ora pro nobis. Ignacio Ellacuria, Segundo Montes, Ignacio Martin-Baro, Joaquin Lopez y Lopez, Juan Ramon Moreno, and Amado Lopez, orate pro nobis. And their house keeper, and her daughter, orate pronobis.

    Precisely because of their power, and to protect their esteem, bishops and priests have betrayed us. Oremus pro eis. If Dr Oddie would like to, I authorise the Editorial staff of CH to give him my coordinates and I could give him information that will make him weep. A thought, in today’s Congo rape and torture are as common as the common cold.  Is it a defence of the Catholic Church to say it’s worse elsewhere?

  • Kennyinliverpool

    It is a fair point that child abuse is 1) wrong 2) surprisingly common throughout society – BUT people who are Catholic expect the Church to be better than that. People are angry because the child abuse was done by priests and then covered up… with the priest being moved to another parish who went on to abuse other children and young people. I think it’s that aspect of the abuse scandal that people can’t get over. 
    Also until very recently Anglo-Irish Catholicism lacked a role for the laity in terms of power in a parish — whatever the priest said went … because the priests refused to allow the laity to have control in the running of parishes they are being held responsible for the cover up … 
    People should be annoyed about it because they expect more from the Church. I think this alongside the celibacy issue for priests is likely to result in a massive decline in the religion in the next 20 years as more people move towards charismatic-pentecostal churches … I’m not saying that are not without their problems!! 

  • Jonathan West

    Paedophiles will be paedophiles. The clever ones choose occupations where they can work themselves into positions of trust which involve the supervision of children. The priesthood is one such occupatiuon, by no means the only one.

    On present knowledg there is nothing we can do to prevent this – we have no way of recognising a potential abuser before he or she abuses. There is no specific psychological or social provile of a schild sex abuser.

    So, the fight against abuse can never totally be won. We can only minimise the harm. that is done by eternal vigilance. Nobody can be so far above suspicion that a complaint against them can be discounted without bothering to investigate it.

    And there is an issue of having to choose between protecting the good name of an instution and protecting the welfare of the children in that institution’s care. If there is an abuse case, the good name of the institution will inevtiably suffer to some extent. So a dcision has to be made as to what is going to be gioven priority – the instution or the children. It ought always to be the children, but too many times it is not.

    A good child protection policy rests on a number of very simple foundations.

    1. A culture of awareness, so that reporting of incidents is encouraged
    2. Well-written procedures, effectively implemented
    3. An absolute determination that all incidents will be reported to the appropriate secular authorities.
    4. Where it is determined that a person forms a risk to children, even if he or she has not been convicted of a criminal offence, that the person is permanently removed from a position where he or she has trusted supervision of children.

    The first two items will to a great extent deter abuse – abusers have just as much of a sense of self-preservation as anybody else and in many cases won’t try anything if they think the chances of being caught are unreasonably high. The third item effectively uses your most valuable resource against abuse – accounts from victims. They are like gold dust and every one of them must be passed on so that they can be effectively investigated. The last point is about ensuring that known threats are kept away from children.

    The overall aim is to minimise the number of victims and the harm done to them. It’s not hard to do it right once you have the determination.

    It may well be that there are no more abusers amongst the Catholic clergy then amongst the population as a whole. The scandal of the catholic clerical abuse crisis concerns the number of victims abusers have been able to get at, even after it had become known that they were abusers. Quite frankly, for very many years the policies and procedures of the church could hardly have been better at providing the maximum of access of victims and the greatest possible harm to them had they been designed with that specific objective in mind.

    And this was made even worse by the fact that when an abuser was discoivered, the church has in most cases seemed to give far more attention to the welfare of the abusing priest than to his abused victims.

    The scandal of the catholic church isn’t about numbers of abusers, it is about the manifest failure to do what could and should have been done to minimise the number of their victims.

  • David Lindsay

    Peter Tatchell is liable for wrongdoing. He would lower the age of consent to 14 and thus legalise almost every act of which any Catholic priest has ever been so much as accused, and he wrote in The Guardian (26th June 1997) that:

    The positive nature of some child-adult relations is not confined to non-Western cultures. Several of my friends – gay and straight, male and female – had sex with adults from the ages of 9 to 13. None feel they were abused. All say it was their conscious choice and gave them great joy. While it may be impossible to condone paedophilia, it is time society acknowledged the truth that not all sex involving children is unwanted, abusive and harmful.

    Having printed that, The Guardian is liable for wrongdoing. In 2010, David Cameron offered Tatchell a peerage. David Cameron is liable for wrongdoing.

    Harriet Harman and Patricia Hewitt are liable for wrongdoing. They ran the National Council for Civil Liberties when it was passing resolutions in support of the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation, and when it was publishing calls to legalise and destigmatise sex between adults and children.

    The University of Cambridge is liable for wrongdoing. For many years, the recommended reading for its postgraduate students of Criminology included the 1980 book Paedophilia: The Radical Case, by Tom O’Carroll, chairman of the Paedophile Information Exchange, whose 1981 conviction for conspiracy to corrupt public morals through the contacts section of that organisation’s magazine was attacked a year later in the journal of the National Council for Civil Liberties by O’Carroll’s barrister, Peter Thornton, who is now a Queen’s Counsel and a senior circuit judge. His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC is liable for wrongdoing.

    Stephen Fry is liable for wrongdoing. His books, The Liar and The Hippopotamus, glorify sex between men and teenage boys, exactly the acts that have brought scandal on the Catholic Church. Successive Chairmen and Controllers of Channel Four are liable for wrongdoing. In its dramatic output, that channel has been and remains a relentless, publicly owned campaigner in favour of such acts.

    Germaine Greer is liable for wrongdoing. Her book, The Boy, is a celebration of the sexual fetishisation of the adolescent male both by men and by women. Richard Dawkins is liable for wrongdoing. In The God Delusion, he describes having been sexually abused as a child as “an embarrassing but otherwise harmless experience”. Philip Pullman is liable for wrongdoing. His famous trilogy concludes with sexual intercourse between two children aged about 12, and he has repeatedly denounced the absence of sexual content in the Narnia novels.

    Geoffrey Robertson QC is liable for wrongdoing. He made his name defending the Schoolkids’ Edition of Oz, and his wife made hers writing explicit depictions of teenage sex, so that she, Kathy Lette, is liable for wrongdoing. All those who rushed to defend and to laud Roman Polanski are liable for wrongdoing. All those in any way involved in Internet pornography, the principal, and highly commercial, sexual abuse of teenage boys in the world today, are liable for wrongdoing.

    All those who have taken us to, and who keep us at, war in Afghanistan are liable for wrongdoing. That war is in defence of the endemic abuse of boys, an abuse to which, whatever else may be said of the Taliban, they were very actively opposed and not without success in seeking to eradicate, whereas the regime that we have installed in their place actively colludes in it as surely as in the heroin trade.

    Numerous Social Services Departments are liable for wrongdoing. They ran homes in which, at the same time as the Church was hushing up sex between men and teenage boys on the part of a small number of priests – and thus, however imperfectly, indicating disapproval of it – such behaviour was absolutely endemic, with major figures in that world publishing academic studies, used for many years in the training of social workers, which presented it as positively beneficial to both parties and therefore actively to be encouraged.

    The police are liable for wrongdoing. They long ago stopped enforcing the age of consent from 13 upwards; as with their non-enforcement of the drugs laws, one really does have to ask for whose benefit that is.
    Among many, many, many others.

    What’s that you say? They do not purport to be moral authorities? Really?

  • Anonymous

    Secular society has no reason it knows of to bother with God & the demands of Christ. But a Church is dead if it disregards them. It cannot adopt a secular attitude to molestation (since that is the evil we are discussing); even if the secular attitude is profoundly moral & (as far as it goes) praiseworthy. The Church is called to something higher, greater, more exacting than that. So it is not faithful to its Divine vocation if it is satisfied with anything less than the kind of life Divinely revealed in Christ. It is in deep trouble if those who govern in it do not apply the standards of the Gospel – how can a generation of sub-Christian laity produce a generation of profoundly Christian clergy and religious.  

    IMHO it is very dangerous for us to excuse ourselves in any way – precisely because it is easy, so reasonable, so congenial to the ego, so tempting. AFAICS, the fact that it is a temptation is what shows it is wrong. How can it matter that sin X may be found less in the Church than outside the Church ? If sin X is a sin, then it needs to be repented of. Ther is no room for us to say, “but X is even worse than I am” – it is not the sins of others, but charity, that hides a multitude of sins. Unless we are open to repenting for this evil, how we can receive forgiveness from God ? But where there self-justification, how can there be repentance ?

    If we are the Church of Christ – we need to have His mind, & His values. May He grant us the grace to have them, to become the Church He desires.   

  • theroadmaster

    The bitter lessons that Catholic hierarchies across the world have learn’t to their cost regarding the fall-out from the sex-abuse scandals, must be taken on-board by organizations which have daily contact with children.  Although Catholic priests and religious form a miniscule percentage of the total number of abusers across global societies, Church organizations must be unceasing in their updating and application of best practice procedures to make their centres of interaction with children as safe as they can humanly be.  I hope that the universal Church becomes in time a major point of reference for experts acting on behalf of interested bodies which are interested in implementing robust and effective policies to protect children.

  • Poppy Tupper

    Stephen Fry really is a sanctimonious get, isn’t he?

  • Mikethelionheart

    I don’t believe it Poppy, I really like one of your posts.
    Extra like!

  • Anonymous

    You are wrong on two counts:

    Firstly, its called age of ‘consent’ for a reason – consent is required, regardless of age. In most abuse cases the sexual abuse would not be consensual.

    Secondly, changing the age of consent does NOT make it legal to have sex with someone under 18 – (unless you are a minor above the age of consent yourself). This is because it is illegal to have sex with a minor (under 18). Therefore regardless of the age of consent the abuse would still be illegal.

  • Anonymous

    It was not so much the abuse, or statistically how common it is compared to the rest of society – but the cover-up of such acts – by a group that specifically is involved in being a ‘moral entity’. People hate hypocrisy.

  • Davidfsavage

    In my work I have to deal with children who are abused – none of them by clergy but nearly all of them by family members or neighbours (about 10%).  I would say in my own personal experience it is mainly women who have been the abusers in about a 60/40 split. the tendency is not to prosectute women so they dont appear in the official statistics.  This is the real hidden scandal, and it is something secular society wants to keep hidden. Abuse I have dealt with has been sexual and physical and it is surprise to some that women – mothers and and grandmothers are involved in this.(Maybe this reflects less men involved in child rearing.) This is the real scandal that needs addressing by society as a whole and urgently. Secular society is in denial .
    Less serious statistically but of ultimate concern to us catholics is priestly abuse. The abuse carried out by clergy is abhorrent and needs addressing.  Statistics in USA say about 5% of clerics have been accused.  I saw something written that if 5% of cars passing by a primary school caused an accident then we would do something quickly. We should address this- it is caused by the culture of silence.  Silence about homesexuality, silence about the number of clergy who have sex. and break their vows. But are these the healthy ones?  Most lay people do not want their priests to be celibate, do we have a voice?  At least let us as a whole community – the people of God, pray and discern, then have an open free and frank debate. Not all clergy discern that God has called them to be celibate. Church history of over a thousand years teaches us that this not necssary to priesthood.  But let God have a voice in this, let us be uncomprimising about seeking truth in this.
     I wonder about the heirachy’s uncomprimisng position on married people who break their vows and the way this contrasts with the often liberal approach to clergy who step into and out of their vows.   I do not want us to be unforgiving of clergy but for us to have the same tolerance and forgiveness to divorced people.
    Our clergy are victims of the culture of silence and they are frightened to say outloud what they feel and think.  They are victims of a mindset that demolishes honesty, and drives real debate away. The laity are not invited to the debate.  Only the enemy can be happy with keeping things hidden, dark and surpressed – oppressed. 

    lets admit this is a major crisis, but the Holy Spirit is great at creating life out of what seems destruction. We are being moved as a community to something new, we will only get there by prayer, love, and honesty.

  • Anonymous

    The mindless haters out there are worried about sex abuse in the
    Catholic church the way that Democrats were worried about petty break
    ins during Watergate or the way Republicans were worried about perjury
    in a civil deposition during the impeachment of Bill Clinton.

    100

    times more sex abuse takes place and is taking place in the government
    schools than in the Catholic church from many decades ago.  See: 
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/10/21/AR2007102100144.html

    So if sex
    abuse and not hatred of the church worries you you may want to take just a
    little peek over there.

    Oh well never mind the man behind the curtain….

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    At a time of such moral despair, the Church should be raising moral standards, not lowering them. On that I don’t think anyone can disagree.

    If one is to find a silver lining on this very dark cloud, however, it has to be that the clerical abuse crisis has prevented (well, slowed down, at least) proponents of sexual paedophilia from seeking a way to legalise it. After all, they can’t reasonably spend half their time complaining about the Church and some of its priests and spend the rest campaigning to legalise the very thing they use to villify the Church.

    My greatest hope is that this episode will be used as a springboard for moral cleansing – towards a future in which all the priests are called to be faithful to the words and spirit of authentic holiness in Jesus Christ. Then maybe we’ll finally be able to declare that we have no room in the Church to accomodate those who do not wish to conform to God’s plan for mankind.

  • Anonymous

    I take cold comfort “that the sexual abuse of minors is
    significantly higher in secular society than in the Church”, 
    Are we not talking about the one true holy catholic apostolic church founded by Christ.
    That one of the marks of our Church is the holiness of the Church, with
    reference to Christ  and to what power and authority it has.
    Many of the priests and their superiors have betrayed Christ and the obligation he
    gave them to make holy.
    One priest abuser is one too many and there should be zero tolerance of abusers and
    certainly no cover up.
    It is debatable whether clerical celibacy is at the heart of this particular problem.
    But I suggest that the very special significance given to holy orders has helped to
    create an elitist mindset within the clergy.
    I seem to recall that Pope Benedict has referred to priests being part of God’s inner
    circle by virtue of holy orders – an elite band of brothers.
    A Brahmin caste, perhaps, that is set apart from the rest of us the faithful.
    With this mindset a culture of pride is inevitable. Hence we get the circling of the
    wagons by the clergy at critical moments and special treatment for those
    priests who transgress. Canon law is for the clergy and civil law for the rest of us.
    Is it too much to ask that, whilst humility should be for all of us, it should especially
    be one of the marks of holy orders?
    Eucharistic prayer II – ‘ Remember, Lord, your Church, spread throughout the world and
    bring her to the fullness of charity, together with Benedict our Pope and N our
    bishop and all the clergy’

  • Jonathan West

    And all that justifies the abuses committed, permitted and covered up within the catholic church how exactly?

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I certainly don’t think the hierarchy has an “uncompromising position on married people who break their vows”. If anything, I think it’s too lenient, and the give-away approach to annulments is certainly proof of that – if proof was needed.  Nor do I agree that we need another debate on the celibacy of priests. There are many ways to serve God, of which priesthood is the most prominent, but nobody is forced to become a priest and there are many avenues for those who wish to marry to still serve God.

    However, I agree with most of your text. I had no idea that there are so many female sexual predators, although you’re right that it might have something to do with the decline of fatherhood. On the other hand, I’m not so sure “most lay people do not want their priests to be celibate”. I certainly think it’s very honourable and in complete agreement with God’s will. Giving lay people a voice is no solution either, as it would be an impossible job to define a “lay Catholic”.

    We should certainly hold our priests to the highest moral order…Although I hasten to add that we should accept no less for ourselves either.

  • Mikethelionheart

    Does he say it justifies it?

  • Nat_ons

    Family men, respectable in all ways, fathers to their own flesh, and to the spiritual welfare of others – can be rapists, incestuous and child abusing. That a local assembly not a local ordinary has chosen them, and are as deceived in their choice as such overseers, makes not the slightest difference to the abused or abuser. Baptist churches face a catalogue of abuse as deep and dark as their neighbouring Catholics, but more, the localism of Baptist organisation adds to difficulty in uncovering the issue let alone in resolving its gravest horror: blind-eyed denial.

    http://stopbaptistpredators.org/index.htm

    The great difference is in the basis for revulsion; the minister of religion or education or state is just that – a hired hand. The appalling reality of a Catholic pastor abusing his position has all the horror of a father .. the destruction of a family, indeed of ‘family’ as a basis for life. Precisely because of their power, fathers have a more intense and intimate responsibility – and hence faces deep and truer horror in his abuse and having others hide it; pivotally, the hireling, although required to be professional, has none of this quality; so the reason that priestly abuse among Catholics is of more terrifying importance rests on .. saying that such wickedness is worse elsewhere does not undo the terrible import, it reminds Catholic why it is so much more horrific when a priest sinks to level of the world and its ways.

  • Davidfsavage

    I dont think I have a clear answer, but I just think we should pray more and speak more of what God  wants.  I often see some very holy lay people who are saints led by spiritual  donkeys, but I acknowledge and have been pleased to witness Gods power working through these priests.  I have also seen some  fantastic priests who I know are gay and I also know of some who have partners - I dont want to judge- but they seem human and effective and if I am honest I think God is working powerfully though them. I personaly would rather they were celebate but because I think (in the words of Mary Ward)… we should appear as we be.  That means if priests are gay they should feel safe enough to tell their friends and Christain brothers and sisters  that is what they are.  If they dont feel safe it is because their community is not loving enough.  It is no good saying they should not  be gay …we all know in the parishes if we are honest that most priests are gay .Lets have the confidence to stop this denial.   .  Every one of us is a sinner and sexual sins, yes even being gay is not going to block the love we have from Jesus. It is so unimportant that Jesus never mentioned it. He did mention the mote in your brothers eye, the dangers of being too legal like the Pharisees, and the dangers of wealth.Jesus spoke at length on these subjects.   He was found with prostitutes and tax collectors as his friends. How many prostitutes are your friends?  It is the a culture of silence that becomes the devils playground.  The demons must dance with joy at all this hidden activity that breeds temptation and causes mental illness and anguish.  We have an opportunity to shine a light in this darkness but it must be done in a manner that brings love and forgiveness.  This is because we are Christians.Those who are ready to bring judgement and condemnation had better watch out on judgement day …as you judge so will you be judged.. We were freed from the Law by Grace, none of us is worthy of coming near God.  It is through  Jesus  and through his power we can call ourselves Christian. Lets stop this pretence. Ask God why did you call so many gay men to priesthood, you knew what you were doing, is it because you love them and knew this was the way to perfect them and to perfect your family?   I repeat though, my own view is that if you say that you are celibate that is what you should be which is why I think the community is being called away from celibacy for some priests. Again I say lets not pretend that a celibate priesthood has always been Gods will, it isnt for our Eastern orthodox brothers in communion and it isnt for the Anglican priests coming over and it wasnt until the 11century  for our community. I think celibacy is a power for the Church and a witness of the kingdom and some are called to this.   What worries me in all this is the lack of people willing to seek what Jesus wants, and I can see people moving to entrenched mindsets.  The Poltical Correctness brigade on one side and the Pharissees on the other.  We are the Church of Jesus, led by the Spirit, loved by the Father. We sinful people should seek what is God’s will and have the humilty to realise it might not be what we will.

  • Janet Heimlich

    Sir,
    Having researched this issue thoroughly, I can assure you that there are no reputable studies that directly compares clerical abuse with secular abuse. One justification for fewer cases can result from the fact that fewer cases are reported. Without an apples-to-apples study, you simply cannot draw a conclusion one way or the other.
    Janet Heimlich
    http://religiouschildmaltreatment.com/

  • Jonathan West

    It’s implicit in the long piece of whataboutery he engages in.

  • Peter Garsdeb

    The calls of the Pope for reconciliation and counselling for the victims of child abuse is a million miles away from the litigious attitude of their lawyers, who stop at nothing to take any technical point the feel willing to do so, as I explain in my blog http://abuselaw.blogspot.com/2011/11/how-conciliatory-are-catholic-sounds-of.html

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I couldn’t possibly disagree more than I do with pretty much everything in your reply. Just because Jesus did not address something directly does not give anyone free licence to think he would have approved of it. After all, Jesus never condemned paedophilia, adultery or even murder, as far as I know…But then again, all these things are issues on which there was unanimity.

    The relevant teachings on sex are crystal clear:
    The Catholic church tells us that sex should have both a procreative and a uniting function within a lifelong marriage.
    The Bible tells us that all sex outside marriage is a mortal sin.
    Jesus Christ tells us that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and be joined with his wife, and they shall become one flesh”.

    None of these statements about the proper use of our sexual desires is ambiguous in any sense. I also dispute your assertion that most priests are homosexuals. I don’t know any who engage in homosexual activity – which prior to the re-definition craze that has struck the modern world was what it took to be labelled a homosexual.

    We should all adhere to the basic and fundamental teachings on the proper use of our sexual drives, and priests should uphold them even more than the laity. After all, they are our fathers in the faith and all we ask of them is that they uphold the same basic morals to which we are all expected to adhere.

    The last thing our world needs is bad priests. – i.e., those who think upholding virtue is optional.

  • Davidfsavage

    Actually Jesus did condemn adultery and divorce if you check the full text of…. that is why a man shall leave his wife … and he did condemn paedophilia when he said if anyone harms these little ones it is better for a millstone….  I wish that intelligent Catholics would study the Gospels more.    He also says that people do not get married for the Kingdom and that some are born that way ( born gay perhaps).  As for priests ask someone who has been to a seminary  .. I just think we should start to shed some light.   My point is the devil works when things are hidden. I as much as  you wish that celibacy was upheld but it seems a burden too much for some.  I think Jesus would not put a burden too heavy on peoples backs.. ( come to me .. my burden is light….woe to you pharisess you put burdens on my people’s backs  and dont lift a finger to help..).  I personally believe in and uphold celibacy as a powerful charism  but am trying to understand those who break their vows. I dont know the answer and it is clear we havent got one yet or this crisis wouldnt be upon us. Laudible though your position is, it does not speak to what is happening for some. I think the Church is in a time of purgation, honesty and repentance then forgiveness and  a time of moving forward is what is called for.   

  • Dosabhain

    I joined a religious order at one time, and as I was carrying a heavy table in the first week I said to a guy who became my best mate.. have you noticed everyone is so camp here.. I could see from his face that I said the wrong thing as he later had to leave due to public display of his affair with a member of another order. I felt I was the only one not engaging in sex it was so rife. I had to physical threaten one priest who wouldnt take no for an answer.  Why should hetrosexual priests who feel called to love in a sexual relationship have to leave but active gay priests carry on hidden in parish houses.  Why should parishes pay them and keep them. They dont keep their vows but deny communion to divorcees. these are the ones who treat the laity as non entities.  Can we get away from the hypocracy please. Or we need some priests to be married and some who are gay to be partnered.. but stop the hypocracy.

  • Tpolak2002

    It is a fact that the sexual abuse of children by various churches is near the bottom of this horrible statistics, way below public schools, sports clubs and, yes, families which top the list. The abuse in the Catholic Church is really homosexual predation and not paedophilia, too. Of course, that does not change the imperative need of its complete elimination.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    Jesus did not condemn adultery – the condemnation was implied. Likewise, he did not condemn sexual paedophilia in the story about harming this little one – although we should assume it was also implied – and there seems to be general consensus that that story was about causing scandal and definitely not about sexual paedophilia.

    Jesus was being asked specifically whether divorce was right or wrong, and he consequently condemned divorce as adultery. Obviously, that only makes sense if adultery is a sin, but my point is that if we are to refrain from only what Jesus explicitly condemned, then we’ll essentially not be any different from those who don’t believe in God, because Jesus explicitly condemned very little.

    What Jesus condemned, in fact, had mainly to do with non-expression of faith, and unauthentic expression of faith and not morals as such – which he left untouched.

    Furthermore, Jesus Christ stated that he did not come to change the law…Finally, his express endorsement of lifelong marriage contains an extremely strong implicit condemnation of all sexual relations outside of it.

  • https://openid.org/locutus LocutusOP

    I feel very sorry for you.

    We should all (as Christians) be ashamed for that situation.

  • Anonymous

       

    There are two basic factors to ‘sexual abuse’: one is lust,
    the other vulnerability.  It is not reasonable
    to suppose either can be illuminated. 
    Both these factors are an unfortunate constituent of the human being, so
    where ever human beings exist, these factors will attend them.  Where ever the vulnerable are in greatest
    number and most vulnerable, there the lustful will be most drawn:  As the shark is drawn to the beach where the
    seal pups must enter the water, because this is where the ‘feeding’ is
    best.  What is being feed is Lust.  It should be obvious then that extra precaution
    should be taken where there is great vulnerability.  This is why the Church has always scrutinized
    those entering Seminary to become priests, as sexual disorders (such as
    homosexualism) add too great additional burden on the already lustful human
    nature.  This is why the argument that celibacy
    is the great equalizer that makes it ok for homosexuals to become priests is false
    and misleading.  False and misleading too
    is the argument that doing away with celibacy will make for priests who will
    not molest children, which is further proven wrong by all the married men still
    sexually abusing children.  This is to
    claim that having sex reduces one’s lustful nature/inclination.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, it is a fact that celibacy actually reduces
    lustful inclinations through habitual abstinence.  After a period of time, and not really very
    long, going without sex is rather easy. 
    Constantly slaking one’s lustful inclinations is to constantly reinforce
    the lustful inclination through habitual repetition.  In fact, frequent indulgence demands higher
    stimulation to achieve the same level of gratification, (as with any addition),so
    it actually increases the dynamics of lust and its need to ‘be fed’, drawing
    the shark to the beach.  It is a false
    notion to believe that lust can be pacified or made content through
    frequent/regular indulgence.  It’s akin
    to feeding fire with fire, or worse, feeding fire with gasoline. 

    One point that is nearly always left out of this discussion
    is the lust that is natural to the child. 
    Children are people too, and are just as subject to lustful inclinations
    as any other human being.  Children do
    not know what’s good for them and will indulge in any manner of behavior and
    indulgence.  This being said, it is
    because of this that those who are entrusted to their guidance and care be
    especially diligent and possess a level of self-control and personal discipline
    beyond that of the average person.  For
    this reason it is clear that anyone with a sexual disorder cannot be expected
    to endure the many temptations of being surrounded by potential victims anymore
    than a shark be expected to swim peacefully among the playful seal pups.  Human beings are vulnerable to both the interior
    and exterior predator, Lust from within and Lust from without, regardless of
    their age (to a point that is, infancy the exception).  The child needs a safe environment to retain
    innocence, while the adult needs to restrain himself and foster interior innocence,
    for in both young and old the interior predator is the driving fire that
    manifests into an exterior predator.  The
    real problem begins and ends from within, and no amount of exterior ‘relief’
    through habitual indulgence (allowing priest to be married) will fill the
    hunger of this interior demon that claws and chews at the soul of every human
    being.  It’s a fact, the more this beast
    gets, the more it wants.  

    This is not, as you say, a problem unique to the Catholic
    Church, it is a problem unique to Mankind who has Fallen from his original
    state of Grace. 

    In the end, lust is both interior and exterior predator,
    while vulnerability is both interior and exterior prey.  Of primary concern is the nature of the
    interior, the ‘psychos’, the soul.  If
    this ‘habitat’ fosters the natural predator consuming prey economy, where concupiscence
    is allowed, even encouraged to attack and devour the vulnerable prey of our
    innocence, the manifestations to the exterior realm, the ‘cosmos’ world, will
    be abominable indeed.   Heal the wounded soul, the world will
    follow.  Until then, expect blood in the
    water……

    There are two basic factors to ‘sexual abuse’: one is lust,
    the other vulnerability.  It is not reasonable
    to suppose either can be illuminated. 
    Both these factors are an unfortunate constituent of the human being, so
    where ever human beings exist, these factors will attend them.  Where ever the vulnerable are in greatest
    number and most vulnerable, there the lustful will be most drawn:  As the shark is drawn to the beach where the
    seal pups must enter the water, because this is where the ‘feeding’ is
    best.  What is being feed is Lust.  It should be obvious then that extra precaution
    should be taken where there is great vulnerability.  This is why the Church has always scrutinized
    those entering Seminary to become priests, as sexual disorders (such as
    homosexualism) add too great additional burden on the already lustful human
    nature.  This is why the argument that celibacy
    is the great equalizer that makes it ok for homosexuals to become priests is false
    and misleading.  False and misleading too
    is the argument that doing away with celibacy will make for priests who will
    not molest children, which is further proven wrong by all the married men still
    sexually abusing children.  This is to
    claim that having sex reduces one’s lustful nature/inclination.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  In fact, it is a fact that celibacy actually reduces
    lustful inclinations through habitual abstinence.  After a period of time, and not really very
    long, going without sex is rather easy. 
    Constantly slaking one’s lustful inclinations is to constantly reinforce
    the lustful inclination through habitual repetition.  In fact, frequent indulgence demands higher
    stimulation to achieve the same level of gratification, (as with any addition),so
    it actually increases the dynamics of lust and its need to ‘be fed’, drawing
    the shark to the beach.  It is a false
    notion to believe that lust can be pacified or made content through
    frequent/regular indulgence.  It’s akin
    to feeding fire with fire, or worse, feeding fire with gasoline. 

    One point that is nearly always left out of this discussion
    is the lust that is natural to the child. 
    Children are people too, and are just as subject to lustful inclinations
    as any other human being.  Children do
    not know what’s good for them and will indulge in any manner of behavior and
    indulgence.  This being said, it is
    because of this that those who are entrusted to their guidance and care be
    especially diligent and possess a level of self-control and personal discipline
    beyond that of the average person.  For
    this reason it is clear that anyone with a sexual disorder cannot be expected
    to endure the many temptations of being surrounded by potential victims anymore
    than a shark be expected to swim peacefully among the playful seal pups.  Human beings are vulnerable to both the interior
    and exterior predator, Lust from within and Lust from without, regardless of
    their age (to a point that is, infancy the exception).  The child needs a safe environment to retain
    innocence, while the adult needs to restrain himself and foster interior innocence,
    for in both young and old the interior predator is the driving fire that
    manifests into an exterior predator.  The
    real problem begins and ends from within, and no amount of exterior ‘relief’
    through habitual indulgence (allowing priest to be married) will fill the
    hunger of this interior demon that claws and chews at the soul of every human
    being.  It’s a fact, the more this beast
    gets, the more it wants.  

    This is not, as you say, a problem unique to the Catholic
    Church, it is a problem unique to Mankind who has Fallen from his original
    state of Grace. 

    In the end, lust is both interior and exterior predator,
    while vulnerability is both interior and exterior prey.  Of primary concern is the nature of the
    interior, the ‘psychos’, the soul.  If
    this ‘habitat’ fosters the natural predator consuming prey economy, where concupiscence
    is allowed, even encouraged to attack and devour the vulnerable prey of our
    innocence, the manifestations to the exterior realm, the ‘cosmos’ world, will
    be abominable indeed.   Heal the wounded soul, the world will
    follow.  Until then, expect blood in the
    water……

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_H3XOKBXWZJEM5DDA45NZELVZN4 ellablue

    As a child I was sexually abused by a ‘good’ friend of our family for 5 years. As an adult I worked for over 20 years with teenagers in care where 3 out of 4 girls had been abused, almost always by a close family friend or family member.

    Sexual abuse by clergy is not alright, period. However it happens less than in secular society. Most research shows that abusers are ‘happily, married, heterosexual men.’ So much for the nonsense about celibacy being an issue.

    Please remember, abuse is about POWER and not sex!

  • Jacob Suggs

    “Precisely because of their power, and to protect their esteem, bishops and priests have betrayed us.”

    True.

    “Is it a defence of the Catholic Church to say it’s worse elsewhere?”

    No.

    However, pretending that the Catholic Church is the only place where the problem is while the fact that it is worse elsewhere is dishonest, stupid and morally wrong.

    Think of it like this: the public outcry at the scandal in the Church helped to bring the scandal to the attention of the people who needed to know, so that they can start fixing it. And they are working on fixing it. And we should watch and make sure they do so – I’m not saying it’s time to pretend everything’s cool just yet.

    But all these other institutions which are worse are ignored – if some of the fervor that went into criticizing the Catholic Church was aimed at them, then chances are they would start fixing their problems as well. This needs to be done.

    The mere act of focusing on the Church to the exclusion of everyone else makes continuing abuse elsewhere easier. This means, and I want you to think about what this means for a second, that children are being raped right now and this is being ignored precisely because no one will look at the abuse in any organization other than the Church.

    This is, I think you’ll agree, a bad thing.

  • Joepublic

    Perhaps God should confirm if is ok or not for catholic teachers to rape schoolboys or not. Perhaps give a sign, so everyone can be clear on the matter.

  • RNUNES

    according to your church records they have over 4000 known paeds in their ranks,any other organization would be banned from working with children,and yet this ones gets away with it.

  • OnePersecutedByTheChurch

    I am a Sicilian who was raised Catholic and was always surrounded with constant elements of witchcraft and idolatry all accepted and permitted by the Church. It is instilled in Sicilian culture, even though people will deny it or simply not recognize it since the Church has made it all so normal, bottom line is that the Church is completely Necromantic, it is deceiptful, it throws down local economies to then take control of the locals to make them do their bidding, it controls prostitution and profits from it, it instigates and provides cover for the drug world and its lords and it provides immunity not only for its priests, but for all the criminals involved in supporting its disgusting empire of death. Sicilians and Jews have been primarily used by the Church over history to carry out their agenda whilst avoiding direct liability, simultaneously instigating propaganda hatred for these groups so that the focus would be totally take away from “it”, the biggest whore that it is.

    The Church`s main deal is that of child sacrifice and they are a cult of the “heart”, think of the Aztecs and you get the right picture. Child abuse, child abduction and child molestation will ALWAYS be part of its daily bread because that`s what the Church is based on. It practices high alchemy for which “things” (human life) has to be given in exchange of knowledge and power and it is no coincidence that IT runs/owns/operates most Unis and Hospitals, which in turn are responsible for the scientific discovery movements we face, for it craves absolute knowledge and the monopoly of all discoveries, which not strangely enough, are currently used against the masses in secret, quiet genocides in Western Societies, look up electronic harassment and the despair of T a r g e t e d  I n d i v i d u a l s. To maintain its cult, the Church has to constantly cause death in others and its cult is maintained by governments who offer it cover.

    Do not be misled by thinking that children will be saved as less and less people attend Church as the entire conspiracy has been well planned over time to excuse it from bigger torments which are to come. The church has it so set up that all governments channel needy people to the church, be it through family counselling or foster homes, and the children are then exposed to Catholics or apparent non, these days primarily women and teenage kids especially, to then abuse these children and blame the parents for it, so that the children are taken off from families to then end up in institutions and foster homes which will continue, in the name of their necromantic creed and practice, to abuse, kill and torment children and isolated women.

    IT IS NO CHANCE AND CO-ACCIDENT THAT THIS EVIL MAN IS WRITING ABOUT THE COMPARISON WITH SECULAR ABUSE – because they have planned it and implemented it over a very long time, having understood that as more and more people spoke up of their crimes, it would be, once again, better to divert attention.

    So listen carefully, it is now that we must be more alert for the kids because these demons have planned to cause much more suffering to our kids AWAY from them so as to excuse themselves and they know no boundaries and they have no remorse for they adore death. THIS DEMON IS TELLING YOU WHERE TO LOOK NEXT, just how does he know?

    They have stolen my teenage daughter from me who was used to molest my son heavily so that I could then be blamed for it – resulting in the child (eventually) being lost to the same system of apparent “care” which they operate under. Since being in care my daughter has caused another girl who at the time was 2 months pregnant to get entrapped with stealing make up, my daughter was not charged, which means later the girl will have problems in keeping her child as she is already under the scrutiny of corrupt Social Services and this is a tactic in line which another Sicilian cousin of mine has used in the past, her name is Gioia Musmeci and you will find Italian articles about her being “arrested” for drug trafficking whilst being in the company of another girl who was also 2 months pregnant at the time and without resources, my cousin has been at home and being looked after whilst the girl has had her kid under custody, Italian law only allows the child to remain in custody with the mother up until the child is 3 years old, thereafter it is taken away automatically = into what? and to whom? They discredit people and cause repeat entrapments instigated by apparent innocent “agents” of theirs to obtain this same end result of “managing” the care of our children, although they would primarily be under custody of local governments, which in turn further divert liability by placing our children in third parties, private care institutions closely affiliated with the church of independent families who have been chosen singularly for this purpose of protecting the Church whilst it continues its rites of child sacrifices.

    Caritas is everywhere, Maltesers are everywhere, our own ambulances are their property and whereas before innocents were branded as witches and burnt in the “ritual” fire sacrifice, nowadays they are locked up as crazy and psychiatry, prepped and taught in their same Catholic institutions, provides one of the biggest killer and silencer set up known to modern history. They have their hands in everything and control everything – no pathetic internet article can deny that.

    The Church and its secular devotees are the entire evil of our societies – end of!

  • Thesonicbubonic

    This video sums the whole thing up in my view

  • Simon Falla

    Coming from a Catholic…that’s a choice comment indeed!