Here’s the latest defense of Catholic abuse of children, infomercial-style:
If you can’t stomach that douchebag long enough to hear him make his point, he’s saying that priests molest an average of 220 kids/year, but teachers molest around 29,000, so it’s unfair that the media has singled out the church.
I take his point that we never read about teachers abusing students. So, it’s probably discriminatory of me to mention that the rate of abuse, based on recent census and church statistics, is 5 rapes per thousand priests, versus 4 rapes per thousand teachers.
If you want to read something more sane about the Catholic Church, Peggy Noonan has a good column on the subject, believe it or not.
(via Dan Savage)
Someone should tell him to stop gesticulating so much. It makes it difficult to concentrate on his rationalizations.
Your prediction about how long I could stomach that douchebag was very astute. Thank you for watching that so I didn’t have to.
When a teacher rapes/molests a student, and when the authorities find out about it, roughly 95 percent of the time they will fire said teacher, let the police drag said teacher off to prison, and promote or improve the warning system to ensure that crime won’t happen again.
When a Catholic priest rapes/molests a child, and when the church authorities find out about it, 100 percent of the time the church will keep it under wraps, delay the paperwork for 5-10 years, transfer said priest to another parish with kids, and pretend it’s not a problem.
Anyone notice the difference?
I’ve wondered about that statistic, too!
But you know, the issue isn’t the abuse. The issue is that the church is systematically protecting the abusers.
It’s not just the crime. It’s the cover-up. I can’t believe those douches don’t understand how horrific it is that they re-assigned sexual predators to work with other kids.
I read the Noonan article. It is well written. She doesn’t waffle [as she usually does] and plainly says what she thinks.
Question: Is she saying that Upper Management in the Vatican is made up mainly of criminals and perverts who are hiding out in the Vatican so they won’t be arrested by secular authorities?
That would explain some of the defensiveness coming out of that organization [they are out to get us!].
In order for this to be a good analogy, there have to be school districts that are moving offending teachers from one school to another to protect that school district. The institution has to be protecting itself rather than protecting the children. I don’t think there are schools doing this. I do think the evidence is there to claim this is what the Church has been doing for at least the past 50 years. They’re only whining because they got caught.
To me, the only reason the overall numbers have anything to do with the issue is that they suggest (to me at least) that priestly celibacy is not what is causing the problem. The problem is the criminal behaviour on the part of the Church hierarchy in enabling rapists.
I’ve seen a lot of people say things like, “Well, what do you expect when you force men into a stunted, unnatural lifestyle like celibacy?” as if removing celibacy is a necessary part of the solution. If that were true, I’d expect to see orders of magnitude higher frequencies of offenses, not 20% higher.
I really don’t care one way or the other about whether the Church relaxes the rule of priestly celibacy (I think ordaining women and gay people is much more important, from a human rights perspective), but I think it’s important to keep the focus on the real issue.
That’s really not all that far away from an SNL skit in its absurdity.
So basically, Cardinal Law told Noonan to “keep on walking,” but she was having none of it. The moral of the story then is: Church rapes, torture, and nonaccountability = bad; Government rapes, torture, and nonaccountability = a few broken eggs.
I do not believe it.
The Church has completely lost the plot. Until they laicize the perpetrators, force them to submit to secular justice, and allow married men and women to participate as equals in the priesthood, all the PR efforts to minimize child raping are for naught.
Well, that Peggy piece is surprisingly coherent and honest–I love the part where she runs into Cardinal Law and he still thinks she should kiss his ring (metaphorically). But if you really want your blood chilled read the 360 odd comments below her piece. The raging catho-holics come out and do battle over Peter and Paul’s respective claims to primacy, Luther’s egotism, the “women would be better” comment and just about everything in Peggy’s piece. They are not having any of it. Did you know that the Catholic Church is the best organization in the world? And its not a democracy. So everyone should sit down and shut up already. And I’m leaving out the scary bits.
Meanwhile we were watching “Born Yesterday”–the marvellous movie about politics, education, and corruption with Judy Holliday as the naive heroine and Broderick Crawford as the raging, gangster, junk dealer who tries to buy Congress. Her response to his accusation of disloyalty:
“If I see a fire and I call the [fire] engine so who’m I betraying? The fire?”
Doesn’t that about sum it up? One rapist priest is a sign of a sinful world, maybe. But a coverup that goes straight to the Pope? That’s a sign of a fallen institution.
The church still has many defenders! Man this is so bad. As a practicing Catholic- Im mortified. My kids are in the parish school and I believe it is a good safe place. The church next door won’t say a word about the issue this morning, I bet. But they will pray for the unborn and an increase in religious vocations. They are just going to end up losing future members by the hordes-like Republicans.
Again, the problem here isn’t that Catholic priests molested kids. I think it’s true that priests don’t molest at a higher rate than people in other, similar professions.
The problem is that the hierarchy transferred priests they knew committed molestation to unsuspecting congregations where they could, and did, commit the same crime over and over and over again. The relatively few priests who molest were given an unending supply of unsuspecting kids to do this to and were able to victimize a disproportionately large number of people.
Schools and officials in other religious denominations would have stopped this as soon as it was exposed and fewer people would have been victimized.
And the problem today is that they keep scapegoating other people (the media, gays, etc.) instead of pointing the finger where it belongs – with the bishops who enabled this.
The pope is on a PR tour and he’s doing the Jimmy Swaggert ( sp?) routine.
Next he’ll say, I’m not a crook.
In the credit-where-credit-is-due department, kudos to Peggy Noonan for writing a lucid and decent column on this subject. And note to the Catholic heierarchy: When you’re losing even defenders of torture, you’ve got no one left.
One of the things about teachers – if someone had said “this teacher is abusing students,” and moved them out of the jurisdiction of the various laws, that person would be guilty of a crime, and everyone who knew about it would be guilty of a crime, and everyone who held authority over those people who encouraged them not to do something about these crimes would be guilty of a crime, etc..
Here’s the thing: the church is whining and crying about how *horrible* it is that people are being so mean to the church over this, as if it wasn’t a huge fucking *self inflicted* wound.
They could have said “you molest a child, and the church will care for you, and protect your soul, and provide you solace and comfort – while you serve your jail sentence!”
And if they’d done that, people would be talking about how the underground horrors of church sex abuse was cracked by the Catholic church, helping other churches root out and fix problems they had.
But they figured like Abu Ghraib, just cover it up and hope it doesn’t stink so bad that someone notices – and, then, if someone tells the truth, you can blame *them* for the hurt you’re feeling.
I heard another douchebag on an NPR panel recently claiming that lots of the coverage has been unfair, and particularly that the NYTimes was completely biased against the Church because Bill Keller, before becoming executive editor, had written an op-ed comparing John Paul II to Hitler and Stalin. The other panelists were somewhat doubtful about this claim, but he said “really, you can look it up!”
Turns out this is like a lot of wingnut claims of things people are supposed to have said — completely false. Here is the op-ed. He make as quite apt comparison of the Church to the Soviet Union, and doesn’t personally compare JPII to anyone. And yet you can find lots of outraged wingnut articles and postings about how he compared the pope to Hitler and Stalin.
Only wingnuts could believe that an editor being outraged about systematic child abuse could be grounds for dismissing factual articles in an entire newspaper for “bias.”
Yesterday morning, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis invited Maggie Gallagher (President of the highly phobic “National Organization for Marriage”) and Bishop Salvatore Cordileone to speak at St. Thomas University about ways to stop marriage-equality from becoming legal in MN.
I attended the pro-marriage-equality rally and protest along with about 200 others. I’ve been trying to find some decent coverage this morning, but I can say that it was a wonderful event. Very upbeat, great speakers, very diverse and energized group of protestors.
The Catholic Church’s pedophile problem did get mentioned by the protestors…
The anti-gay-marriage crowd looked appropriately tight-assed as they walked past the protestors (we were blocked off but just yards from their route of travel). I’ve never seen such a non-casual looking crowd on a saturday morning. Lots of suits.
Funny. And when will he address how, unlike public schools, the entire hierarchy of the Catholic Church has been devoted to protecting its pedophiles and covering up the crimes?
When the church turned itself into a pedophile protection racket, they sealed their own fate.
Public schools do not tolerate accusations of abuse and get those teachers/employees out and involve law enforcement immediately.
Anyone who can’t see the difference needs a psychiatric intervention.
Exactly. It’s the classic “when you’re in a hole, for fuck’s sake stop digging” scenario. We laugh at Michael Steele acting as if he’s a Dem mole, sabotaging the GOP from the inside. Well, Pope Ratz and his boys are doing a more effective job of blowing up the Church than anyone they’re accusing of “hate campaigns” ever could. That they can’t/won’t see this is mind-boggling — assuming they all aren’t actually anti-Church operatives who know exactly what they’re doing.
I assume this would make Catholic schools the double-whammy of pedophilia heaven?
Noonan is wrong insofar as her presupposition posits that there is something worth saving in and of the church. Like so many of our institutions today (ex. in politics, finance, media etc.) the church deserves nothing more than to be razed to the ground.
I read excerpts from the letter in question online; the over-riding rationale for the coverup was to protect the Church’s reputation as an institution.
That’s staggering; the Catholic Church is more important than the actual Catholics.
More important than Catholic children.
Good Bill Maher quote from Friday, about the Pope:
You know you’re having a bad week when you pine for the days when people thought you were just a Nazi.
You know, it’s amazing, but I never recalled the Teacher’s Union putting together a 5 minute power point presentation explaining why teachers were less likely to rape you than, say, Scout Masters.
It’s almost comical except it’s a matter of CHILD RAPE.
At this point, I can only imagine that all this post-mortem ass-covering is for the Church’s own benefit. These excuses are so utterly lame.
The Disgruntled Chemist
What’s he going to do with that pencil?
It would be irresponsible not to speculate.
Schools are almost all run by the lay people/used to be be nuns…
I really do not think my kids are in danger at school. Church, thats another story- my son is not an altar boy.
The entire rotten and corrupt structure of the RCC is being exposed for all to see and it gladdens my heart. The bishop of Greensburg, PA has denied permission for the Sisters of St. Joseph (the nuns who were my teachers in parochial school) to conduct recruitment activities in his diocese die to their signing of the nun’s letter in support of HCR. The bishop of Pittsburgh, Zubik, who is a local Beaver County native who was also educated by the good sisters has announced that he is also considering a similar ban. This is what the church has become. Disgraceful, just disgraceful. Don’t know how anyone with a brain or heart can stay in that church. And how happy am I that I dumped the whole rotten ediface 35 years ago?
Yeah, I also don’t recall teachers unilaterally declaring themselves the earthy representatives of a supreme being.
Well actually, this does happen, after a fashion. Not infrequently, when a school district strongly suspects misconduct by a teacher but either doesn’t have definitive proof or just want to avoid a messy public controversy. They just don’t renew the teacher’s contract, or ask them to leave before they get fired. The teacher moves on to a new district which has no idea why the teacher left their previous job since there were no allegations.
I really wonder what the average age of a child raped by a priest is, versus a minor ‘raped’ by a teacher.
Typically, when a teacher molests, you’re talking about a teenager. At least, in most every case I’ve ever seen, you’re talking about a teen who willingly gave consent or was manipulated into consent, but who is unable to legally consent no matter how willing.
Typically, when a priest molests, you’re talking about pre-pubescent or barely pubescent children and quite often, it’s forced.
Perhaps some will say I am splitting hairs, but I think not. Both are wrong, but there is something much more sinister about forcing a ten year old to engage in oral sex, than consummating a high school student-teacher crush.
Isn’t there also that part where the teachers tend to be criminally prosecuted?
Not necessarily apropos to this topic since I reject what Catholic Teevee is saying, but what is it with teacher-bashing lately? It’s become the “Morning Joe” show’s Raison d’être, for example.
This should be about as surprising as the Vatican resorting to blaming the Jews and gays.
I think we also have a right to expect better from the Catholic church.
I’d like to see a comparison of priestly molestation rates with those of other religions. Either there’s a massive conspiracy to keep quiet dozens and even hundreds of cases of Protestant clergy molesting children… or else it’s a problem which is somewhat unique to the Catholic church versus other denominations.
…there’s also a scandal among orthodox Jews in NY, where apparently there were several orthodox rabbis who engaged in systematic child sex abuse over a period of years. I’d suggest that this might be strongly correlated with misogynistic institutions, which fairly describes both orthodox Judaism and Catholicism.
I stay in the church because it is my church and it is worth fighting for. Peggy Noonan is exactly correct. Its time to purge the church from the inside out. The old heirarchy has to go.
I agree; it’s all part of devaluing certain human beings.
Actually, I’d go with misanthropy, hatred of the human species.
Their attitude towards sex, taken to its logical conclusion, would have the whole human race die out.
This is consistent with the Church’s position on the abuse scandals. Once a man is called to be a priest, his calling becomes more important than his actual behavior. Raping children is no reason that he cannot continue as a priest, live a long life as a priest, die as a child raping priest.
Secondly, as reporting on abuse scandals in the US and Ireland in particular demonstrate, Church officials believe that the defense of the Church is so important that it is permissable to lie, to withhold evidence and to sacrifice the lives of children.
I suppose that somewhere in their cracked brains, they believe that if a priest “forgives” a child after raping him or her, then the child’s soul is saved, so everything is all right. No crime is committed because a child raping priest is really not a criminal in their eyes. He has just strayed. No sin has been committed because the stain has been wiped free.
Noonan’s op-ed piece is powerful, but she avoids the conclusion to which her criticism leads.
The Church has elevated protectors of pedophile priests precisely because they are also the most vehement protectors of the Church itself. They will not change. They have no reason to.
Worse, the Church assumes that people will simply tire of this and move on, and that the core of the faithful will accept their lies and obfuscations. It’s worked before.
Is this a Pajamas TV video?
I wish this site had a “recommend” button. So many of these posts are sooooo good.
Sorry, but you don’t get to make that call – the faithful do. And we will. So kindly BTFO.
From Nooner’s piece:
Sounds like FoxNews. Yeah, it’s always a smart move to look to arrested adolescents living cloistered lives for understanding of the verities of life. However, Nooner’s solution — bringing in the nuns – doesn’t make much more sense.
Does anyone know if the Church uses any outside consulting or PR firms? They should all be fired, if so.
“I stay in the church because it is my church and it is worth fighting for.”
Exactly. And I feel sorry for those who can’t get their tiny, closed minds around that. You know who you are.
comrade scott's agenda of rage
Except being gay. It’s okay to be homosexual but not okay to engage in homosexual activities. The latter is the sinful bit.
Of course this flies totally in the face of what George Carlin used to say about being raised Catholic (and that’s how I was introduced to the church). When Carlin was growing up, the simple sinful thought was in itself sinful and “worthy” of penance.
“Recovering Catholic”. There’s a reason that term exists as my wife can attest to.
I live in a very Catholic swath of central Missouri and *nobody* here will utter a word about this. Typical Midwest conflict avoidance, ie, bury your head up your ass and hope the problem goes away.
I certainly understand and support the sentiment. But this has been going on for thirty years; and it only gets worse.
What can a good Catholic do, and how do they do it?
I’m not being sarcastic; I really want to know.
I’m not Catholic, and I’m not even Christian, but I don’t exactly agree with burnspbesq’s argument that the only voices that matter in this issue are Catholic ones. I think there’s a lot of great stuff in the Catholic Church—lots of history, art, people, buildings, ideas that need to be fought for, sure. And the only ones who can fight for them are inside the Church–that, of course. But the fact of the matter is that until very recently the Church has laid claim to rights over many kinds of people, not all of them voluntary Catholics. There are Catholic schools that serve a mixed base, there are Catholic hospitals that serve a non-Catholic population, there are (or were) Catholic orphanages that handle non Catholic orphans and place children with families who are (or could be) non Catholic.
All of those people have some kind of moral and intellectual right to look at what the Catholic Church has been doing with it special dispensation from secular governments and say “woah!” The local Catholic grade school is very popular in my town–I could easily have sent my children there—are those parent to have no feelings and ideas about Cardinal Law (our former Cardinal) and his coverup of the scandal among his own priests? The local Catholic Charities (against the will of its own trustees) refused to place children for adoption with gay families. They didn’t limit their actions and concerns and ideology to believing Catholics–they imposed their view of what was right and natural on all of us. In the end the state stepped up and refused to allow Catholic Charities to take public monies and refuse to place children with gay families.
There’s no hard and fast line, in this country certainly, between the Catholic Hierarchy, its funding, it politics, and the non Catholic population. If the CC wanted to argue that public monies were fungible and that any tax money anywhere could be considered to pay for abortions somewhere in the system the same argument could be made here–the CC gets tax breaks, and even accesses tax payer monies in its Hospitals, and yet pushes its religious strictures on non Catholics all the time.
WTF? That marsupial sitting on the head of Mike Lavoris, S.T.D. doesn’t match the color of his hair. Needless to say, his words won’t match the facts. Just sayin’, ’cause that’s a trigger for an old baldy like me.
SATSQ. Of course they do. From an LA Times story (L.A. Archdiocese Enlists Services of Top PR Firm):
Not yet read thru all the comments, but just to note that once again, This American Life brings the power:
The stream of the episode is here. I can understand Wall’s ideal.
That TAL was amazing.
There are catholic bishops who are actively working to deny me and all GLBT adults the rights that you take for granted. YOUR church is taking political stands and spending their funds and providing national advice on how to discriminate.
Kindly take your BTFO and stick it up your F’inB. Thanx.
RE: @ morry – Noonan is wrong insofar as her presupposition posits that there is something worth saving in and of the church. Like so many of our institutions today (ex. in politics, finance, media etc.) the church deserves nothing more than to be razed to the ground.
Actually, we do get to make the call, at least in part. While I commend the faithful in the Boston area who worked to get Cardinal Law to admit problems and to resign, the sad fact is that the Church in turn spit in the face of the faithful and elevated Law to another position of authority within the Church.
Child rape by priests is a crime, not just an issue for the faithful. The Church has engaged in a criminal conspiracy to protect abusing priests, and has used secular law to avoid investigation and prosecution.
Seems to me that the government should revoke the Church’s tax exempt status, and use every tool that is used against gangs, terrorists and organized crime to apprehend, prosecute and convict pedophile priests and their protectors.
As for the faithful, whom or what exactly is it that you are being faithful to?
aimai nailed it with the quote from Born Yesterday:
“If I see a fire and I call the [fire] engine so who’m I betraying? The fire?”
I speak only for myself on this one, but I think it’s time for the laity to stand up and send a clear message to Rome that we don’t approve of what has been done supposedly in our name, and we will walk if our voices are ignored. Maybe it’s time for a second Reformation.
Meredith Gould has writte far more eloquently than I could hope to on this topic.
I appreciate the sentiment, but I’m not sure how true it is. One of the things that troubles an outsider like me the most about the Catholic Church is the extent to which the Church hierarchy seems to see itself and not parishioners as the true center of the church. I don’t see how you’re going to fix the organization when its deepest problem is that it is structured to ignore any input from people like you.
Seems to me that the government should revoke the Church’s tax exempt status, and use every tool that is used against gangs, terrorists and organized crime to apprehend, prosecute and convict pedophile priests and their protectors.
I heard an admirable suggestion not too long ago that the US government should start confiscating Church property under RICO, on the grounds that they were running a criminal conspiracy to abet child abuse for decades.
Even a credible threat of that would cause change at the top, I think, although it would create such a political shitstorm that nobody would every try it.
“There are catholic bishops who are actively working to deny me and all GLBT adults the rights that you take for granted.”
The bishops are wrong. They don’t speak for me. I think you know that, if you’ve paid attention to what I’ve written here over time. Some of us are working to get the bishops to get their heads out of their asses. We may not succeed. But we are trying.
Could you respond to the criticisms made of charlie cook’s gop leaning projections made here and here.
Historically, baring a national emergency, the party in the WH loses congressional seats. It even happened to the great ronald reagan, who lost 28 seats in 1982, even though he had the new census gerrymandering wind at his back. So I expect loss – it’s par for the course. What I object to is beltway analysts like charlie always tilting the narrative towards the gop – always.
Teachers in public schools are also state-licensed, so there’s a backstop if they’re charged and convicted, and we’re not just relying on a local school board or a principal’s discretion, in terms of them re-locating and abusing again. Teachers leave a paper trail.
Since the MAJOR institutional problem here is not that priests raped children, but that the Church then transferred the rapists so they could rape again, I think this is a stupid comparison.
Is the Catholic Church proposing a state license system for religious who work with children? Because that’s how we limit the damage from rapist who are public school teachers. We pull their license, and make a public record. If so, then it’s a valid comparison.
Maybe, but I think it would be really hard to get a new teaching gig if without listing your prior teaching position anywhere on your resume, and those things do get checked. I remember losing out on one teaching job I applied for back in the day because I did not realize that the principal I interviewed for was a good friend of the principal for whom I was currently working … and whom I did not inform I was applying for a new position. Not only did I not get the job, but I had bad relations with my current principal until the day I left. Definitely a learning experience for me. So anyway, I can’t imagine leaving a position under a cloud of suspected pedophilia and future employers not learning about such suspicions before hiring except in the most ineptly run school districts.
” I don’t see how you’re going to fix the organization when its deepest problem is that it is structured to ignore any input from people like you.”
There are two possibilities. We can engage from within and hope that the next Pope (the current one is a lost cause) is inspired by the Holy Spirit to see the necessity of a more open institution. Or we can vote with our feet and our checkbooks. I favor the first, but unfortunately I think the second is more likely to succeed.
But this has been going on for thirty years;
What–abuse? Puh-leeze. This has surely been going on for centuries. The revelation of it is what’s relatively recent.
Plus, file that video under “Ways to Lie With Statistics.” I waited in vain for him to compare the total number of teachers in the country with the total number of priests.
Of course, I bailed after about three minutes, so maybe he addressed that. And maybe he addressed the fact that it is a priest’s job to be a moral exemplar, and a priest derives his or her–sorry; his–authority from that fact. This is not to excuse sexual abuse by teachers. But “oh yeah? Well teachers do it, too” is hardly a persuasive argument for asking people to reduce their outrage.
@burnspbesq: there is no changing the “institution” when it has defended the primacy of Peter for nearly 2000 years and has crystallized that primacy in the insitution and in the figure of the Pope. Not gonna happen. For people like the current Pope and people like Noonan, the Pope is Peter and is carrying out the wishes of Jesus. vatican ii is a distant memory as the Church began competing with evangelical protestantism for Third World converts, which meant meeting the rhetorical needs of the converts with the same language of evangelicals. This, plus the un-holy union with evangelicals in the US over abortion and teh gays, has further moved the Church away from a message of LOVE, that odd and wonderful thing that so moved god to sacrifice his only son on pain of crucifixion. (I speak in the langauge of the Church to make the point.) it matters to me only insofar as these creeps tell me that I am not living a godly life by supporting pro-choice politicians. Perhaps it would make them feel better if supported only those pro-choice politicians that molest children.
@burnspbesq: Thank you, that was an eloquent and heartfelt exchange.
But as you pointed out in a later comment, you have only two choices of action; hope the Church will change, or leave.
I bailed on my church of origin in my teens, but that wasn’t my only choice; Protestantism offers a huge variety of experiences. Catholicism is a take it or leave it; what would a Second Reformation accomplish? There’s already Lutherans.
No one is going to break away, confiscate the churches, and elect a new Pope.
What people do in the name of God has nothing to do with God; that was what I took away from the articles you pointed me to.
And I completely agree.
@WereBear: I think that what is going to happen to the catholic church is this:
More and more people will vote with their feet.
The church will be left with the “true believers” who have unquestioning loyalty to the institution and its leaders.
The church will feel increasingly embattled – leading to retrenchment and increased authoritarianism.
More and more people will vote with their feet.
Etc. and so on…
Wow. I’m not one to bash the catholic church, but when I see something like this it makes me sick. Does this help them with anyone other than the true believers?
One of the calculations I saw was that roughly 5% of Catholic priests had been seriously accused of sexual abuse of youngsters.
Let’s say that figure was correct.
Would there be any other institution having not only 1 in 20 of their frontline employees (i.e., those involved directly in interacting with the public and with their charges) sexually abusing youngsters but a hierarchy which systematically protected the employees and either facilitated their continuing sexual abuse and/or avoided the criminal justice system?
Should the Catholic Church be given more leeway in this matter than would be Wal-Mart or ACORN?
@El Cid: and that five percent would tend to be low – there will be abusers who have not been accused.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think you should have to defend remaining in the Church. Makes sense to me. I think if you leave you’re going to be completely ignored. Why on earth would they pay any attention to people who are no longer Catholic, and no longer within the entity? I don’t even know how that would work, as a practical matter. A picket line?
@kay: Well, exactly, and well-put.
Where I live, which is a conservative area, (though I guess we all conservative when it comes to the safety of our kids), a whiff of sexual misconduct by teachers will cost them their jobs.
I know in our community there was an educator arrested for alleged solicitation of a prostitute, and two others arrested for alleged suspicion of some type of impropriety in public places. Nothing involving students or minors. All three were offered the chance to resign, which they did, before any disposition of the legal matters.
I agree with the above commenter, certified teachers leave a paper trail. There is no public paper trail for priests. In the church, the employer controls all the records, with no oversight.
And I think that most of the people who are arguing with you are more or less saying that they’ve already giving up on the first and think you’re a fool for believing that it can succeed. I think it would be wonderful if the Catholic Church were to reform. I just don’t see it happening until there have been real, terrible consequences for the top of the hierarchy. The only thing they’re going to listen to is money and/or prison sentences.
Great. Let’s start with the hospitals and orphanages. We can turn them over to people who will run them as though the physical well being of the people they serve is more important than following church doctrine. After that, we can go after the
personal propertyChurch owned property that just happens to be devoted to the exclusive use of Church officials.
I’m not religious, so I stay out of that part. I do think there are real questions about old-fashioned corruption, though.
In the Wisconsin case, with the deaf children, it looks to me like the county prosecutor and the state children’s services entities were compromised. I cannot for the life of me figure out why a child abuse investigation was never initiated. It should have happened. It should have gone : state children’s services agency and then referral to prosecutor. That didn’t happen. Why? Some of those kids were wards of the state. They were placed there by state agencies.
We don’t need the Pope’s permission to investigate that aspect. There are records, and a process that wasn’t followed, and triggers for an investigation that should have occurred, but didn’t. That’s my interest. I’d like that aspect pursued. Not “where was the Church”, but “who got to the State?”
There was a pattern like that in the Toledo cases, too. Something weird was going on there, statewise.
@kay: Excellent point, Kay, about the role of the state.
Similar situation in Canada with the Mt. Cashel orphanage in Newfoundland – people went to the civil authorities and nothing happened. Children who had escaped and made complaints were sent back.
What can a good catholic do? I guess you could vote the administration out of office.
Oh wait. I guess you’ll have to vote with your feet. No, I’m serious, because your membership and especially your tithes simply enable this behavior. If you really want the same rites, just become an Episcopalian.
It’s not simply about corruption. State authorities often defer to the Church out of a false sense of the Church’s authority or honesty. And the Church is part of the power structure. In terms of social hierarchies, church and state are interconnected.
Here in LA, although Cardinal Roger Mahoney has resisted efforts to investigate priest abuse cases, he is still a celebrity, sought by Catholics and non-Catholics to appear at public events, to give his opinion about social issues, etc.
One of the saddest revelations about many of these child rape cases is how often authorities said, simply, “we didn’t believe the accuser. We gave priests and bishops the benefit of the doubt.”
It is a sad aspect of human nature that we often defend the status quo, we just want unpleasantness to go away, we don’t want to know. And when those in power say, don’t worry, we’ll take care of it, we eagerly go about our business and let evil continue and go unpunished.
@kay: That’s the gist of it, really. I’m neither religiously nor culturally Catholic (Russian Orthodox in case you’re wondering) and so feel a bit touchy speaking about the issue. It’s like combining religion and politics, two of the most flammable topics imaginable. You just tend to avoid it; looking back, it becomes so obvious that human nature has truly benefited the Church.
But the part I’m so frustrated with is, where was the state? And it is beyond offensive that the video in the OP seems to attempt to equate teacher-abuses with clergy-abuse. That kind of propaganda just preys upon the ignorant, and is as hideous as the original and multiple offenses.
I think it’s huge. In the Toledo cases, there was a sort of willful blindness by the state that gave religious much more leeway than ordinary people, IMO, just looking at what happened, and what was ignored.
It really doesn’t take much to trigger a child abuse investigation. Ask the people who have been wrongly accused. A bare allegation is enough to start the process. That’s deliberate. It’s a trade-off. Children are so vulnerable that there’s a recognition that agencies have to act regardless of the damage to reputation that might occur from a false accusation and initial investigation. They don’t need “probable cause”. They don’t need anything but one contact and one allegation. LOW bar.
They err WILDLY on the side of “safety”. Every allegation merits a visit, and an initial determination if the allegation is “substantiated”, and if it isn’t then they drop it but they flag it in case they get another allegation, and one more allegation makes child abuse “indicated”. That’s the process. So, why not here?
“And I think that most of the people who are arguing with you are more or less saying that they’ve already giving up on the first and think you’re a fool for believing that it can succeed.”
That may be so, but if no one tries it surely won’t succeed.
Thanks. Not an easy time for the faithful, but thoughts like yours make it easier.
Stay or leave, I don’t care much about that, but don’t give them another penny. Donate to, I dunno, Doctors Without Borders, if you want to give to an actual charitable organization.
I agree with you. I think corruption is actionable though. There’s a process they have to follow when an allegation of child abuse is made. If they didn’t follow it, they should have to explain why. It’s not like it’s arbitrary. It goes ONE,TWO, THREE… and there are records kept and people signing off.
Take it out of the whole context of “a church”. Approach it like any other corruption case. Was any kind of special influence in play to avoid or limit state process? I don’t necessarily care why the bias arose, or which particular power broker was protected, and that shouldn’t matter.
Since they can’t reach the Church, how about we look at the State? That’s where the public interest is. When individual caretakers of children fall down on the job (parents), the NEXT QUESTION is always: where was the State?
Why haven’t we gotten to that next question? I think that’s bizarre. It was my first question.
@joe: You are either NOT a catholic or you do not understand your own religion – the Pope decides and YOU obey or are forced out of the church; you have zero direct say.
So what’s your point.
Just to be clear, I’m not making assumptions they state agencies compromised or conflicted or corrupt. I mean, I have my own suspicions, but no one should rely on that.
I was just struck by the NYTimes piece on the Wisconsin case, where (good for the Times) they DID ask the county prosecutor where he was, but then they just took him at his word.
They don’t have to take the State at their word. They may not be able to get access to church documents, but they sure as hell can access police incident reports (probably the first place people would call: everyone calls the police first for anything) or reports of child abuse to a county agency.
I’d like to know which of the Wisconsin kids was a state ward and who their appointed guardians were, for starters.
Child abuse repeated, broadly, is a failure to protect. Child abusers exist. We know that. The whole point of the thing is to protect when it happens, because it’s going to keep happening. When the parents don’t protect, we look to the State. When the Church doesn’t protect, we should also look to the State. State protection is the last resort for children, when everything else fails. It’s all they got left. Where were they? I don’t know why no one is looking there. It’s as if we’ve made a decision to “investigate” the one entity we can’t really reach, the Church.
I feel fairly certain that if it were protestant churches involved instead of Catholic that it would be approached like any other case probably even more zealously than normal.
The deference to the church as mentioned is someones post is a privilege that seems to extend only to the catholic church.
I don’t think we need a RICO investigation, or to go right to the tax code, or anything elaborate or creative or huge. I think we just have to ask the county agencies involved, or NOT involved, as here.
A home for deaf children (as in Wisconsin) is perfectly comparable to a day care center. The advocates for the victims in Wisconsin were handing out leaflets. I’m not sure what more of a head’s up the county children’s services agency needs. A bullhorn outside their office?
Maybe I’m being obtuse (not unusual) , but if I were presented with allegations of abuse, like, oh, a LEAFLET handed out detailing the incidents, I don’t know why I would draw any distinctions. I know I wouldn’t. What do I care? Priest, day care worker, same thing, to me anyway. I think I’d visit the home for deaf children.
Then you haven’t paid attention to at least twenty years’ worth of scandals and quashed charges of child abuse, endangerment, and even murder against Protestant-based “schools for troubled children” in the South. The main distinction there is that the children beaten, raped, and occasionally murdered by the reverends and their thugs have already been categorized as ‘delinquents’, or at least ‘in need of supervision’. The Catholic church hierarchy has had many more years of practise to improve its skills at covering up the abuse of its most vulnerable members, but wherever a local church of whatever denomination becomes part of the local power structure, then the local perverts will use the church as a tool for their crimes & cover-ups.
I want to take out of “a church”, not The Church.
This is February, 2010:
“In Brooklyn’s ultra-orthodox Jewish neighborhoods, the rabbinical leadership’s muted response to a wave of sexual abuse allegations has come under increasing scrutiny.
The problem of sexual abuse by rabbis and yeshiva teachers against children has garnered much media attention in the last year. Twenty-six alleged molesters were arrested–8 of them convicted–throughout orthodox Brooklyn in the last year. Hundreds more children have been molested, mainly in Borough Park, according to reports in The New York Times, The Jewish Star, and The Jewish Week.
But many of the parents of those children–fearful of offending the powers that be and the possibility of being ostracized from a notoriously insular community–are not reporting these crimes to the police.”
It’s a failure to protect. Maybe if we took it out of the heady language of theology and religion we’d be more effective in having the state step in when the parents OR church fail. That was my point (I think).
The State steps in regularly when parents fail. So what’s different here? I think it’s “church”. The deference to religious isn’t a great idea. It’s not like kids who are religious are somehow not afforded state protection, is it? That can’t be right. Every kid gets that last line of defense.
In a sense, we’re STILL treating religious differently. No one would be wringing their hands and saying “why oh why didn’t the perpetrators self-report?” if this were a non-church case, right? We’d ASSUME they wouldn’t turn themselves in.
It’s just very strange to me, how delicately the state treads, where religious are concerned.
That’s really not far from the reasoning in the Onion’s “Pope Vows To Get Church Pedophilia Down To Acceptable Levels” piece.
Well I an not convinced that the Catholic church should act better. Religion of any sort points the way to acting more humanely; the Sermon on the Mount is one of the most morally challenging passages out there; but even that doesn’t guarantee that people are going to act better.
Look at the Gospel story itself: Jesus’ disciples, who lived with Him, shared in His ministry, heard His teachings and witnessed the miracles, then turned around and betrayed Him, deserted Him, repeatedly lied about knowing him and did nothing to help once He was arrested by the Roman authorities, tortured and executed. Even direct exposure to Jesus didn’t turn His most intimate friends into better people.
I’m a liberal gay practising Episcopalian, so I don’t have a dog in the Catholic fight. I understand that intuitively one would think that religion makes people moral, but that can’t even be found in the Gospel story itself, so that idea is in error.
I guess I don’t get your surprise about how delicately the state treads when dealing with *any* balkanized local community with money and political clout. The state (doctors, police, judges, social workers, teachers) routinely moves in only on officially dysfunctional or politically powerless families: minority, illegal immigrant, single parent. It has historically stayed out of communities where the local powers that be were, well, powerful. That was specifically the case in Boston where the police and the social workers were *also* Catholic and also took as a serious charge the duty to protect the church from scandal.
In addition–the Catholic Church everywhere, and the Protestant Church in the South, and the Orthodox Jews have always protested the role of the state as an honest broker in family matters. Women’s rights, Children’s rights, right to refuse marital partners, right to divorce, right to die? These are all objects of political action by organized religious communities because it is precisely at those points: marriage, birth, death that individual freedom of conscience is most dangerous to an authoritarian religious hierarchy.
But it is also clear from some of the stories that, especially in the 1950s and early 1960s, authorities simply did not want to hear about sex and sex abuse. It is clear that people simply did not want to believe that a priest, being a man of God, could do anything heinous. Obviously, when a priest chooses celibacy, all sexual desire disappears.
Perhaps things have changed recently, but for a long time, children were simply not believed or, worse, their problems were seen as less important to bigger issues related to social stability.
And so, what happened when accusations about Father Murphy rose to a level that could not be conveniently ignored?
And when they went to the police?
The State offered little protection and seems to want the whole thing to just go away, as does the Church.
Kathy in St. Louis
Thanks for the link to the Peggy Noonan article. Not my favorite person, but even a broken clock is right twice a day. And she’s right on this one.
Maybe because I’ve never been a part of any balkanized local community with money or political clout?
All good points, aimai, and to be honest, I never thought of it in such broad terms.
Most of the people I encounter in the juvenile court system are somehow marginalized. There are exceptions, but generally, you’re right. They are not within some kind of group protection or status (even a two person system, like marriage). I just never got further than the specific set of facts that brought us “together”, which are NOT “status” questions, but specific things they did or didn’t do.
To me, looking at it from the outside, it’s like these kids got membership in a community (whichever religious community) and by doing so were effectively excluded from even bare-bones state protection ( “police”-type protection from physical harm) which everyone gets. That’s how it played out, anyway. If you tick through the people who were supposed to protect them, and didn’t (parents: fail, church: fail) you get to the last line for kids, which is The State and even THAT protection wasn’t available because they were inside a church community.
Membership in the “community” may have had a lot of benefits for some, but it certainly came with a cost, to others.
I absolutely agree with you that membership in the “community” may have had a lot of benefits for some, but it came with a cost to others. It sounds like you work closely with abused kids/families in the court system? I think, if that’s the case, that your sense of how things are done outside the court system may be a little warped. By the time people get to you, as you said, they are already in the system and already marginalized. Brachiator’s notes upthread remind us that for a very long time, historically and culturally speaking:
1) children were not considered reliable reporters
2) disabled people were not considered reliable reporters
3) women were not considered reliable reporters
4) the harm that abuse and/or sexual contact that occurred between important adults and children/disabled people/women were not considered very serious. Certainly not rising to the level of crime.
I am the last person to excuse priestly (or any other kind) of sexual abuse–whether of children or of adolescents or adults–but it is the case that cultural attitudes towards sexual abuse have changed very radically from twenty or thirty years ago. Many people thought, erroneously but sincerely, that “things happened” to children and would be better of forgotten or never mentioned. That’s true not only of sex and crime but even things like death–a few years ago I wound up in a grief group for parents and while people were sharing their own experiences of death an astounding number of people, and I was one of them, discovered that if you were over the age of forty the adults in your life had attempted to shield you from knowledge of death even if the person who died was, say, your own father or sibling. Attitudes towards childhood trauma have really changed and the modern cultural drive is towards publicity, transparency, criminalization, justice etc… That simply wasn’t the way families or authorities thought about it back in the day..
Children really aren’t reliable reporters, aimai. I interview them all the time. They lie a lot. The reason they aren’t reliable reporters is (I believe) because they’re so vulnerable. They’re like diplomats from a small, weak country. They have to try to keep everyone happy. They make all kinds of deals with the truth to do that. They’re conflicted. If the social workers or lawyer appears to be their best shot at survival, they’ll go that way. If their mother is who they need, they’ll go that way. They’re really survival-oriented. They try to read the situation and deal accordingly, and that can play havoc with the truth. I completely understand and respect their dilemma. They have to do that. They don’t have any power.
Parents are terrible too, honestly. They don’t lie, but they’re so invested in various ideas and protecting various factions or people that they can’t see anything objectively.
Teachers are the best reporters, in my experience. They spend enormous amounts of time with the child, so notice changes over time, they have enough distance to stay (somewhat) objective, and they overhear on the children talking to each other.
I’m afraid I sounded dismissive, and I didn’t intend that. Part of the reason I haven’t thought about this in a “global” sense is because I think that harms my ability to look at it starkly and honestly. My most useful role is, I think, one person at a time. I try to stay really, really close to the ground. I think the blanket “I believe the children” was nonsense, and led to horrendous results (the witch hunt for the day care workers) and the opposite is also nonsense. I’ve gotten so wary of “theories” involving children. Conservatives have a political angle there, a set of “beliefs” and liberals do too, although the conservative theory is probably ascendant right now. I’m all over the board. I come down on the conservative side probably as often as the liberal one. Honestly, in terms of state law and practice, the liberal theory that was ascendant in the 80’s and 90’s was a disaster, too. “Theory” is just too broad.
If I adopt a position (my clients got here because of class issues beyond their control) I can’t represent them effectively, because I’d be sort of throwing my hands up at the outset. Too, that isn’t how they see it, so if I want to talk to them, and I do, I can’t start with a “position”.
But what you wrote makes a lot of larger sense, and I am not unsympathetic or disinterested in the bigger picture. I just can’t go there, because it’s not my role, and, honestly, I’m wary. It’s why I fall back on process so much. It’s reliable in a way that “an approach” isn’t.
Kathy in St. Louis
Truly, the saddest part of this entire story is that the hierarchy, in an attempt to protect the reputation of the Church and, via the “old boys’ network, the reputations of its priests/abusers has ruined the reputation of the priesthood in general. There are thousands of priest who wouldn’t touch a child inappropriately for the world. There are thousands of nuns as well. These people have done the jobs expected of them for a lifetime, and now, they are all suspect as well. Thanks so much to the bishops, cardinals and the Vatican for compromising everyone’s reputation by handling this mess so badly.
And, let us never, ever forget the human wreckage this has left behind. By minimizing the criminality and betrayal involved in this fiasco, you’ve ruined my Church and giving many families a lifetime of sorrow.