I really don’t know what to say

by Maria on March 15, 2010

Sad and upsetting times in Ireland. Cardinal Brady, it turns out, was instrumentally involved in the closed investigation of the monstrous Fr. Smyth, and himself swore to secrecy two children raped by Smyth. The incident simply resulted in Smyth getting some form of censure from the Church and going on to rape and abuse many, many more children. Whose parents were in turn stonewalled by the Church. How does anyone get over this? Should they?

Meanwhile, Pope Ratzinger is wriggling off the hook – at least this hook, this time – for his own involvement in a cover up. It’s odd to me that people are searching so intently for Ratzinger’s smoking gun, when as head of the Congregation for the Indoctrination of the Faith, he wrote to bishops telling them that breaking the seal of secrecy on church investigations of sex abuse was punishable by excommunication. That’s the smoking gun that destroyed not just the childhoods and perhaps lives of one or two children in Ratzinger’s direct responsibility, but thousands of children around the world who deserved better from the one, true Church.

The Irish adult voices of raped children are joined by American ones; people now grown up who were raped and abused by Fr. Smith when he was sent away from these shores and off to where he wasn’t known and could start again. A Connecticut woman poignantly asks why she was repeatedly raped by a priest who had been sent to America instead of to the police. An Irish woman asks why no one went to the police. If they had, she might have been saved. Many might have been saved.

Cardinal Brady’s voice on the radio saying it was different times then, and he chose differently. And that others are guilty of doing nothing also; teachers, doctors, the media itself. And it’s true, but only part of the whole truth. So strange to hear the institution that stands for absolute moral values and the timeless nature of sin asking to not be judged by the mores of another time.

Forty years ago, the Fethard-on-Sea boycott took place. Another case of the Church claiming dominion over the souls of Irish children while destroying their childhoods.

Three weeks ago I listened to my parish priest go through the motions of reading out the Cardinal’s letter, asking for prayers for the Irish bishops as they went to visit the pope in Rome. Then a week passed of outrage that no bishop was called on the carpet. Then a statement from the Vatican that said our modern cult of not respecting ‘the dignity of the human person’ was to blame for it all. That’s usually code for saying gay people sin mortally, or that women’s bodies are the Church’s to dispose of. What on earth can they mean in this context?

Reading the Cardinal’s letter in a monotone, the priest had just sent all the first holy communion kids back down off the alter to sit with their parents. His pure joy at celebrating the rite of passage with the children was innocent and good. But can anyone else see it that way ever again? After the victims of abuse – and far, far behind them – those most hurt are the parish priests who’ve given over their lives to something bigger and supposed to be better than themselves. They are betrayed by their leaders and distrusted by the faithful.

A week or two later another bishop was asking for a special collection of 60,000 euro to pay off the victims. Otherwise the diocese might have to start selling property. A new meaning for the term ‘blame the victim’. Another round of newspaper and radio interviews of people coming out of Mass. One of them said churches are full of old people and middle aged ones that have been sold a pup. But they’ve nowhere else to go.

A spokesman sympathetic to the Church reminds us that most abuse happens within the family. He’s right. Meanwhile, the children of parents who inflicted unspeakable abuse on them sue the state for not stopping it. The state did try, ten years ago and not hard enough, but was stopped from intervening in the sacred zone of the family by a constitutional court case bankrolled by a rightwing Catholic organisation from abroad. Today, a home grown Catholic lobby group lobbies against a constitutional amendment on rights for children. (Unborn children have rights contra their parents. Born children, not so much.)

The quiet dignity and sheer persistence of victims of the abuse talking on the radio every day or every second day. Joe Duffy trying to whip up his own easily stirred moral outrage, and being quietly side stepped by the people who’ve truly been hurt. Some of them think bishops’ resignations can help. Others have given up hope on the lot or, with unbelievable generosity, say getting a few scalps now won’t help them and will only harm the innocent believers.

Is there such a thing as an innocent believer?

{ 58 comments }

1

Bill Gardner 03.15.10 at 5:25 pm

Thank you.

Is there such a thing as an innocent believer?

No. And I don’t think that you think that that is the goal.

2

bert 03.15.10 at 5:59 pm

You’ve seen this, I assume:

Reason to be pro-European #94: look at the secular space that has opened up in places like Ireland, where debate was previously conducted within bounds set by the church.
If you were in any doubt how tenacious the grip of servility can be, the drivelling about innocent believers is a reminder for you.

3

Bernard Yomtov 03.15.10 at 6:00 pm

A week or two later another bishop was asking for a special collection of 60,000 euro to pay off the victims. Otherwise the diocese might have to start selling property.

We’ve seen this sort of thing consistently in the US. Church policy seems to be that the financial responsibility is strictly local, so there is a lot of crying poor and talk of bankruptcy and damage to worthwhile programs when it comes time to pay damages.

Isn’t that the clearest sign possible that the Vatican is dodging responsibility? Legalities aside, I think a truly contrite Vatican would meet the dioceses’ liabilities itself, rather than isolating itself from the costs. How many of their baubles would they have to sell to do that?

4

john b clay 03.15.10 at 6:04 pm

What does the Bible and a penis have in common?
They’ll both be forced into you by a priest.

What do you give a pedophile who has everything?
A new parish.

Sorry for making light of this issue, but don’t these jokes ring true? I watched a program on SBS recently about these dispicable rock spiders. I found it very disturbing to learn that the taxpayers are footing the bill for ongoing counselling and supervision of these lowlifes. It won’t change them. If I were in charge, I can promise you they would never do it again. They would be in the cemetary.

5

Danny Yee 03.15.10 at 6:19 pm

How can there be no criminal prosecutions over this? Or does benefit of clergy still exist in Ireland?

6

Matt 03.15.10 at 6:38 pm

How can there be no criminal prosecutions over this?

My understanding is that, at least in the US, the statute of limitations had run on many of the crimes. There’s been some movement to retroactively change this, but I don’t know how successful it’s been or if it’s a good idea. I’d not be surprised if there were similar problems in Ireland, but I don’t know for sure about that case.

7

politicalfootball 03.15.10 at 6:41 pm

It’s odd to me that people are searching so intently for Ratzinger’s smoking gun, when as head of the Congregation for the Indoctrination of the Faith, he wrote to bishops telling them that breaking the seal of secrecy on church investigations of sex abuse was punishable by excommunication.

Yeah, Bernard Law’s sinecure in Rome should have pretty much ended any question about where the Church stands on this issue.

At one time, I had hoped a process like this – the gradual discovery of damning details – would work against the U.S. torturers. I figured that since Bush had denied torture all along – and people professed to believe him – that contradictory evidence might scandalize people.

Cheney was, however, able to make a bold play that the Vatican must envy: He just admitted it.

That approach is probably unavailable to Ratzinger. Even Americans probably couldn’t be persuaded that the abused children were really terrorists.

8

jacob 03.15.10 at 6:41 pm

When the US was having its big priest-abuse scandal six or seven years ago, there was a lot of discussion about how the moral authority of bishops was now gone. Despite this–or, more likely, as a way of countering it–we have seen in the past six or seven years the bishops demanding increasing ideological and political fealty. (See the disputes about whether pro-choice politicians should be excommunicated; their active opposition to marriage equality, including, in D.C., threatening to withdraw some contracted social services; and the USCCB’s role in passing the Stupak Amendment.) Bishops seem to be throwing their weight around more, rather than less, despite their moral bankruptcy in their own institution.

The power of the bishops within the Catholic Church has waxed and waned throughout history. (I would recommend Jay Dolan’s American Catholic Experience on this.) As an American, I can only hope that Europeans will fare better than we have in wresting power away from the bishops and back into the hands of the laity.

9

Doug 03.15.10 at 8:31 pm

I note that Wikipedia is keeping score, after a fashion. A note at the top adds, “This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.”

10

kindness 03.15.10 at 9:02 pm

With billions of known galaxies, each of which contain billions of stars, even if only 0.0001% can support life that leaves tens of millions of worlds where they no doubt also have touched god.

Yet you say one true church. I’ve never understood that disconnect. Since god is omnipotent, and everywhere, isn’t god also in the lives of those other millions of worlds?

Yes, god is. But they know god through different prophets there. Stop suggesting we are the only ones. You are selling your god short.

11

urban legend 03.15.10 at 10:12 pm

The statement about Ratzinger threatening excommunication for anyone breaking the secrecy of church investigations is a very serious one. Links and credible support for that claim are needed, and their absence calls the statement into question.

12

scathew 03.15.10 at 10:54 pm

“not be judged by the mores of another time”

Funny, I thought modern times were filled with sin and depravity and all God fearing types longed for the old days of chastity and morality?

Incidentally, when has it been ok to rape little boys and little girls?

I wish I could say I really believed in God as it would give me a little satisfaction to at least know they’d get theirs someday, alas the irony is they undoubtedly won’t.

13

Stuart 03.15.10 at 11:39 pm

Incidentally, when has it been ok to rape little boys and little girls?

I am not sure that is really the problem – any organisation large enough and with trusted contact with children is going to attract some pedophiles, just an unfortunate fact of life. The problem is that by covering it up when it happened, the Catholic Church basically became an ideal home for them, protecting them and ensuring they will damage and destroy many more lives than they realistically could have done without that protection.

14

Colin Danby 03.16.10 at 12:45 am

Re #12, the same argument was used recently re R Polanski — that back in 1977, you know, everyone was raping children so it’s unfair to judge acts then by today’s standards. Almost all “by the standards of that time” arguments are vacuous.

15

LanceThruster 03.16.10 at 2:42 am

Sadly, as an atheist…I somewhat consider the people doing this as godless. How could one pretend to believe the teachings of the RCC, and still destroy childhood innocence in this manner? Do they think they’ll be lucky enough to get absolution at the right time? Is it a case of asking forgiveness on Sunday for the sins you commit on Monday?

I’m fully disgusted (and an ex-Catholic/xian since my mid-20s).

16

politicalfootball 03.16.10 at 2:47 am

u. legend – I hadn’t heard that Ratzinger story before, but really, is there anything odd or out-of-character about it? Anything at all implausible?

I mean, it’s not as if you need to rely on that narrative to know that the Church facilitated sexual abuse and still covers it up. Bernard Law is really all you need to know about.

Anyway, here’s the London Observer on the Ratzinger allegation:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/apr/24/children.childprotection

17

parse 03.16.10 at 3:07 am

Stuart, do we know if the Catholic Church did become an ideal home for pedophiles? The “scoreboard” over at Wikipedia reports for the arch diocese of Los Angeles a total of 22 priests were involved in the settlement with cases going as far back as the 1930s. I don’t know how many priests there were in the archdiocese between 1930 and 1990, but how does that score of 22 compare to, for example, the Los Angeles Board of Education, or Boy Scout Council or families of abuse victims as a source for molesters? Are members of the Catholic clergy significantly more likely to commit sexual abuse than others, controlling for other differences?

18

Inquisitioneer 03.16.10 at 4:17 am

At what point does the benefit-of-the-doubt expire?

@11 really, are we still at the point where the burden of proof is on those making the accusations? At what point does the Catholic Church have to prove that there has been no Papal level co-ordination of the cover-ups of sexual abuse of children that have now been reported in every single country where the Catholic Church has a secure political position?

A fish stinks from its head.

What is rather striking to me is the fact that all the scandals that have come to light so far have been in countries where the Catholic church could have easily reported the priest to the police and shrugged off any publicity following without much concern.

I don’t think that it is merely the vow of celibacy that is a factor. It must be rather hard for a church that claims the right to forgive sin on behalf of God to remember that it is not entitled to pardon crimes against lawful government.

No doubt the response of the Church to this scandal will be the same as its response to the last: double down on the hatred of gays in the hope that it will divert attention.

19

Idiot/Savant 03.16.10 at 4:48 am

I am not sure that is really the problem – any organisation large enough and with trusted contact with children is going to attract some pedophiles

Where “some” equals 4% of all the priests who have served in the US in the past 60 years. And that’s just the public allegations. That’s not looking like bad luck – its looking like a serious institutional problem.

As for the Irish Cardinal, he conspired to pervert the course of justice, and he should be prosecuted for it.

20

NomadUK 03.16.10 at 7:09 am

Every time I read about the CofE and the Catholic Church ‘building bridges’ and trying to heal the schism, I want to vomit. I see no reason to invite that bastard to visit this country. The wanton destruction of architectural and artistic treasure aside, Henry had the right idea.

21

Maria 03.16.10 at 7:31 am

11 – this has been in the public domain for many years and was published by the Holy See. If you want a reference, you can start with wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Ratzinger_as_Prefect_of_the_Congregation_for_the_Doctrine_of_the_Faith

22

Stuart 03.16.10 at 10:28 am

Where “some” equals 4% of all the priests who have served in the US in the past 60 years. And that’s just the public allegations. That’s not looking like bad luck – its looking like a serious institutional problem.

That was the point of what I was saying – by protecting them, they very likely attracted more to their ranks.

23

Robert the Red 03.16.10 at 10:43 am

@18: No doubt the response of the Church to this scandal will be the same as its response to the last: double down on the hatred of gays in the hope that it will divert attention.

Don’t forget the doubling down on the Church’s anti-abortion-for-everyone stance, as in the current health care reform debate in the US.

24

hix 03.16.10 at 11:26 am

Gay is fine with the catholic church. Priests are much more likely to be gay than the average population. Openly gay not so much.

25

Randy McDonald 03.16.10 at 11:59 am

“Where “some” equals 4% of all the priests who have served in the US in the past 60 years. And that’s just the public allegations. That’s not looking like bad luck – its looking like a serious institutional problem.”

More to the point, the Church has set itself up as the supreme arbiter of morality. Claiming “the times were bad” misses the point of the Church entirely.

26

politicalfootball 03.16.10 at 12:31 pm

but how does that score of 22 compare to, for example, the Los Angeles Board of Education, or Boy Scout Council or families of abuse victims as a source for molesters?

I haven’t seen evidence that Ratzinger molested children. The problem with Ratzinger is his insistence on a systematic coverup, and the facilitation of pedophilia by the Church fathers. There’s no similar evidence with the Boy Scouts, and if there were, they’d be shut down.

In theory, one could imagine the facilitation of pedophilia being the product of a particular diocesan culture, but it seems widespread, and there is hard evidence (cited above) that the pro-pedophilia cultural preference extended to this pope and the previous one.

The idea that there have only been 22 pedophile priests in L.A. since the ’30s seems, on its face, absurd, and surely that’s not what you meant to imply.

27

ogmb 03.16.10 at 2:11 pm

Ratzinger is also the former archbishop of Munich-Freising, which has its own abuse scandal brewing.

28

Bill Gardner 03.16.10 at 3:40 pm

Hitchens on Ratzinger.

29

Michael Sprague 03.16.10 at 4:03 pm

It seems a shame that nobody is going after these many and various men of the cloth with conspiracy charges.

Rapists and child abusers ought to be taken as the serious criminals they are, and pursued vigorously. Sounds as though the church was playing the same shell game with your Irish priests that was taking place in the US with similar miscreants. Though the underlying crimes of non-consensual sex, etc. possess time limits, if the church command structure was involved, that makes the concealing of the crimes themselves a conspiracy. That is likely ongoing until the point at which all the parties involved admit to all the details of their misdeeds against society.

It isn’t an easy thing to prove, and so a difficult crime to prosecute, but who ever told the bar that being licensed to practice law was going to be easy, or that protecting society from evil was just not that important that they should break a sweat?

Sorry, hypocrisy ticks me off, and I tend to get a bit eye for an eye. Which seems oddly appropriate in this case. (These cases, even.)

30

Ray 03.16.10 at 4:22 pm

I really don’t know what to say

Something about entrails and lamp-posts would seem appropriate.

31

Kenny Easwaran 03.16.10 at 5:09 pm

Re kindness in comment 10 – This is actually a problem that the church has thought about for a while. They had a recent conference on astrobiology, partly to see what evidence and theories we have about extraterrestrial life, and partly to think about the consequences for the church.

There was a similar worry in the middle ages about the antipodes. The thought was that the equator was inhospitably hot, so if there were people in the southern temperate zones, then they must never have come in contact with people in the northern temperate zones. Thus, there would either have been a separate coming of Christ or the people on that side would be unsavable. It seems that some theologians dismissed the worry because any people would have to be descended from Adam and Eve in order to be fallen, and if you can’t get to the south from the north, then they couldn’t be descended from Adam and Eve.

32

Inquisitioneer 03.16.10 at 8:23 pm

@26: Why would someone be so keen to protect pedophiles if they were not sympathetic to them?

I am sorry but given the form of the Catholic Church’s attacks on gays and women, I really don’t see why they shouldn’t be treated in precisely the same terms they treat others. They come out with these pious statements of the most vile hatred imaginable and then claim the dignity of the cloth!

Years ago there was a Conservative clique at my UK university who did the usual things for young Tories in Thatcher’s Britain. They made up enemies lists, set off fire extinguishers, attacked gay rights, called Macmillan a war criminal.

It was only a few weeks ago that I discovered that the same students who had been openly supporting Clause 22, a Thatcherite attack on gays were in fact having weekly gay sex orgies.

@20: Henry VIII had the right conclusion but the wrong reasoning. In point of fact the Tudor Anglican church had rather fewer doctrinal differences with the Catholic church than might be imagined. The real schism occurred after Bloody Mary attempted to turn the clock back.

The idea that a priest is a representative of God is a blasphemous notion. The idea that a Pope might utter any statement infallibly is blasphemous. The idea that priests forgive sins is a blasphemy.

Why should the notion of Anglican/Catholic reconciliation be any less ludicrous than the notion of Anglican/Jewish or Anglican/Islamic reconciliation? There might be rather more agreement as to the basic history on which the faith is based, but as far as interpretation goes, the view of the Catholic and Protestant churches are utterly and totally incompatible.

If you are a Protestant you believe that a man needs no intermediary to God. If you are a Catholic this is a heresy.

33

AntiAlias 03.16.10 at 9:26 pm

@ 30: Yes, something similar came to my mind too…

34

Lantern 03.16.10 at 11:28 pm

Not to pile on or anything, but the “one, true Church” thing bugged me too. Not just because I’m not a member (I’m an atheist) but because, as an acquaintance of mine with personal experience of this matter put it, the priests in question (i.e., both abusing priests and accomplice priests) use _exactly_ this lie to cover up their crimes. If you tell Mummy or Daddy, the Church will kick you out and you’ll all go to Hell. If you report what your child told you, the Church will kick you out and then it’s Hell for you.

Ratzinger’s stance is a perfect example of how these criminals keep their racket going. Abuse a child? No problem, new parish for you. Report the abuse of a child? _Excommunication_.

So, while I know that you didn’t mean anything bad by it, Maria, I think it’s worth reconsidering whether articles about sex abuse in the Catholic Church are the right place for implicitly accepting the Church’s claims in re its own legitimacy and authority.

35

riffle 03.17.10 at 6:38 am

Another datapoint from today’s AP:

Brazilian authorities are investigating three priests accused of sexually abusing altar boys after a video allegedly showing one case of abuse was broadcast on television, police and church officials said Tuesday.

The case came to light after the SBT network aired a video purportedly showing an 82-year-old priest having sex with a 19-year-old altar boy who worked for him for four years.

With video, even. I’m really eager for the next lecture on morality from the bishops of the pedophile protection society.

36

Mrs Tilton 03.17.10 at 7:10 am

Inquisitioneer @32,

If you are a Protestant you believe that a man needs no intermediary to God. If you are a Catholic this is a heresy

And if you think prod and pape alike suffer under the burden of lunatic delusion, albeit of slightly different brands?

Which reminds me — beannachtaí na féile oraibh, a chairde!

37

Maria 03.17.10 at 7:22 am

Indeed, Mrs. T.

And a happy Paddy’s day to all.

38

Nabakov 03.17.10 at 8:51 am

Well gee guys, what do you expect from a highly authouritarian institution with a logo based on an ancient torture and execution device where orders about one of our most primal drives are issued by professionally celibate men in dresses called “Father”?

Incidentally whenever someone starts railing on about homosexuality as unnatural, it’s probably worth reminding them that voluntary celibacy is only really practiced by members of one species in nature. And not that successfully either judging by the behaviour of certain “competent organs” as the Sovs so charmingly used to phrase it.

If you fuck around with the human sex drive, it will inevitably fuck you up in return.

39

Tomboktu 03.17.10 at 10:53 am

I do wonder why the failings of the State authorities do not get the same attention. Maybe it’s because we cannot name a specific Chief Superintendent X in the Gardaí or a Senior Inspector y in the Department of Education in the same way we can name Cardinal Seán Brady or (the late) Archbishop Dermot Ryan. In saying that, I do not claim those state institutions have not been criticised, but I do notice that specific, named individuals in them are not now being held accountable for their failures of ten, twenty or thirty years ago.

And I am reminded that the failings of some non-religious bodies went beyiond failing to act and include sins of commission. A title=”post on Irish Left Review”> recounts one person’s experience of being stonewalled by the ISPCC, who took a court case to have them taken from their father when they were a child.

40

Mrs Tilton 03.17.10 at 11:19 am

Tombuktu,

I do wonder why the failings of the State authorities do not get the same attention

Obviously it’s because the hypocritical, spiteful, bigoted, mean-spirited, poison-minded haters now focussing unhelpful attention on certain regrettable if no doubt somewhat exaggerated incidents in the Church’s (distant) past, all of them solely the responsibility of a few bad apples who have since been dealt with appropriately, are motivated by bitter hatred of the Church and Her holy priests and by nothing else.

I mean, that’s the answer you’re fishing for, isn’t it.

41

ajay 03.17.10 at 11:50 am

I do wonder why the failings of the State authorities do not get the same attention.

Because, as far as we know, the prime minister and cabinet did not, over a period of decades, cover up the fact that State employees were abusing children, force the victims to promise silence, and shift the employees to another area to carry on the abuse.

42

Chris E 03.17.10 at 1:45 pm

11 – This is a translation into English of the letter in question, the original is in Latin:

http://www.bishop-accountability.org/resources/resource-files/churchdocs/EpistulaEnglish.htm

43

parse 03.17.10 at 3:19 pm

The idea that there have only been 22 pedophile priests in L.A. since the ‘30s seems, on its face, absurd, and surely that’s not what you meant to imply.

politicalfootball, I certainly didn’t mean to imply that, since I have no idea whatsoever the number of pedophile priests in L.A. since the ’30s, but I don’t have good reason to consider that number on its face, absurd either. Although I may be using a different definition than others here, as I wouldn’t consider evidence of an 80-year-old man having sex with a 19-year-old to be in anyway related to pedophilia.

The 4% figure is enlightening, but without reference to similar figures from members of other professions with regular contact with minors, it doesn’t go very far to explaining whether the Catholic clergy are particularly inclined toward sexual abuse.

44

Inquisitioneer 03.17.10 at 3:36 pm

@34 The point is that the idea that there is any prospect of healing the rift between the Anglican and Catholic churches is bizarre. The Anglican church could not in any circumstance accept the authority of the Pope on doctrinal matters. If the Catholic church gave up the claim of doctrinal authority of the church there is no point in healing the rift.

45

Substance McGravitas 03.17.10 at 3:37 pm

it doesn’t go very far to explaining whether the Catholic clergy are particularly inclined toward sexual abuse.

Your original question was whether or not the Church was an ideal home for pedophiles. The approach then is not at all about the proportion of pedophiles within the church – which seems high – but whether or not you can get away with pedophilia and have opportunities to molest again. And it seems you can as the church’s punishment for children blabbing about being raped is more severe than it is for raping a child.

46

Mrs Tilton 03.17.10 at 4:05 pm

Inq @42,

yes, well, my point was that, for me and many others, the question whether Rome and Canterbury can or should reconcile is precisely as important and interesting as the prospects of a merger between Cao Dai and Raelianism.

Mind you Anglicanism is, on the whole and in many places, a much less thoroughly loathesome thing than the RCC. Indeed it has certain features for which I feel an odd sort of affection. But its foundational beliefs are none the less as insupportable as those of Rome; or of Mormonism, Islam, Scientology, Animism or any other body of religious beliefs you care to name.

47

ajay 03.17.10 at 4:18 pm

44: have to disagree with that; you should find it important and interesting. Just because their views are erroneous doesn’t mean the churches don’t have power. Cao Dai and Raelianism don’t have similar amounts of temporal power. (Though, back in the early 60s, a merger between, say, Cao Dai and Hoa Hao would have been an event of major international significance, as I’m sure you know.)
You presumably believe that both Shia and Sunni Islam are wrong, but you should know that the history of tension between them is extremely important…

48

parse 03.17.10 at 8:03 pm

The approach then is not at all about the proportion of pedophiles within the church – which seems high

It does seem high, but I’m left wondering if it really is. It also seems, as far as I can tell, that many of the priests involved weren’t pedophiles–the same link that gives the 4% of priests figure reports that 78% of the victims were between 11 and 17.

And Substance, I asked in my initial post Are members of the Catholic clergy significantly more likely to commit sexual abuse than others, controlling for other differences? What’s the difference between asking that and asking whether the Catholic clergy are particularly inclined toward sexual abuse.? I’m missing your point.

Unless you point is just that, regardless of the numbers, the Church’s response to credible reports of abuse facilitated continued offenses. That much seems obviously true to me.

49

NomadUK 03.17.10 at 9:13 pm

MrsT@44: Mind you Anglicanism is, on the whole and in many places, a much less thoroughly loathesome thing than the RCC

That was really my point. I personally don’t have any use for any church, but I find the CofE, in its current incarnation, fairly reasonable and progressive on most issues, and have no real difficulty with it being the state church, despite my own atheism.

But any rapprochement between Canterbury and Rome is unlikely to result in a change in Catholic doctrine and much more likely to result in a push of the CofE to the right, and that I would find extremely unfortunate, to say the least. Canterbury seems to have been, all in all, reasonably successful in keeping a lid on its less enlightened branches in other countries, though, oddly enough, the US branch seems to be outstripping it in progressive thought. But I suppose that’s the advantage of not being in charge of the worldwide communion.

50

Sherie. C. X 03.18.10 at 12:02 am

First, I think each aspect of life has good man and evil doer. Religous life is a part of our life, there is no exception to it. What we have is more than what has just been uncovered. The more serious attitudes we hold towards life, the more pethatic sides will be exposed. This is by no means an excuse to avoid real life though, rather, is an alarm for us to have some reflection on our life.

Admittedly, the distinction in the behavior between religous people and unbelivers becomes more vague, to a certain upset extent. This is not happening by one side; the mass should not have kept silent. Religous leaders could do what the other secular people do, including such a crime; they are doing whatever others are doing, the only difference is that they are still having a job like religous leader, this is the only distinction between them. People are not upset about this and keep silent for it for a long time. For example, some Buddist leader in some temple in mainland China could behave like a celebratiy or even a business man, holding the most advanced cellphone and riding BMW, coming to every important event and show himself for something back. People do not care, as long as he could host an excellent worship ceremony at some important religeous occation. Relationship is always the central concept, problems happen within it. The relationship between God and human beings got broken, and countless disasters came, finally God with mercy sent his only beloved son to repair the relationship between him and human beings. Now, the weird relationship between religeous leaders and believers or unbelievers are problematic. More and more things are gonna go wrong. This time, human beings should fix the relationship by themselvs. However, the first hard question would be: how many people are aware of the existance of the problems.

51

Tomboktu 03.18.10 at 12:27 am

Mrs Tilton:

Obviously it’s because the hypocritical, spiteful, bigoted, mean-spirited, poison-minded haters now focussing unhelpful attention on certain regrettable if no doubt somewhat exaggerated incidents in the Church’s (distant) past, all of them solely the responsibility of a few bad apples who have since been dealt with appropriately, are motivated by bitter hatred of the Church and Her holy priests and by nothing else.

I mean, that’s the answer you’re fishing for, isn’t it.“

Not at all. I am not a member of that church, but I am a citizen (and a taxpayer), and I want to see the individuals in the secular institutions — whether those be state bodies or NGOs — who were responsible also held to account too.

52

ChrisB 03.18.10 at 2:23 am

I have to say that here, as often, my interest is in the question “What’s changed?” Why are we now so concerned? Has the number or proportion of pedo priests gone up, has our tolerance gone down (certainly, but enough to account for the total difference?), has our respect for authority gone down (ditto), has our hypocrisy shifted to a different area? Rolfe’s Letters from Venice show how you could combine pedo and high romanism in 1901; is there any current cheat sheet?
In one work on Burgess, he of Burgess and McLean, it’s recorded that he used to walk through the Foreign Office in the fifties singing
“Little boys are cheap today,
Cheaper now than yesterday,
Little boys are half a crown,
Standing up or sitting down…”
It may be that an institution that prides itself on its slowness to adapt to modern mores is slower than others to adapt to changes in modern mores.

53

Jon H 03.19.10 at 4:17 am

@46: “It does seem high, but I’m left wondering if it really is. It also seems, as far as I can tell, that many of the priests involved weren’t pedophiles—the same link that gives the 4% of priests figure reports that 78% of the victims were between 11 and 17.”

Then they’re ephebophiles. But there’s still the issue of abuse of authority, sexual abuse of a minor, etc.

54

Inquisitioneer 03.19.10 at 12:17 pm

I think it is also worth pointing out that abuse by a priest is not exactly ‘normal’ abuse. And that the very actions of the church hierarchy were an integral part of what made it immeasurably worse.

The law focuses on the physical aspects of abuse because those are what can be measured. But it is really the psychological aspect that is the damage. And what could be more damaging than a Church that is telling the victim that it is all their fault and that they are condemned to hell?

Ratzenberger made it his business to ensure that the interests of the church would be put before the interests of the victims.

At what point do we declare the Catholic church a loathesome cult run for the interests of a few rich eunuchs sitting at the top of the organization in opulent splendor?

55

AntiAlias 03.19.10 at 5:42 pm

1096, I daresay.

56

bert 03.19.10 at 9:45 pm

Innocent believers:
Brady applauded at Armagh mass

57

moe 03.20.10 at 6:17 am

Someone may have posted this already: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/35944804/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/

It’s about the Boy Scout cover up. I have been baffled by the Catholic Church scandals (also sickened, horrified). I’ve tried to guess what could explain not only the rapes but the indifference to them. But apparently, the Boy Scouts did something rather similar. Of course pedophiles were attracted to Boy Scouts. So maybe it is partly that organizations tend to close ranks and worry about their brand when it might be tainted by association with child rapists. The horrific nature of those crimes might not be enough to overcome the reluctance to damage the organization’s image.

58

bert 03.20.10 at 7:58 pm

Ratzinger’s letter’s out.

4. In recent decades, however, the Church in your country has had to confront new and serious challenges to the faith arising from the rapid transformation and secularization of Irish society. Fast-paced social change has occurred, often adversely affecting people’s traditional adherence to Catholic teaching and values. All too often, the sacramental and devotional practices that sustain faith and enable it to grow, such as frequent confession, daily prayer and annual retreats, were neglected. Significant too was the tendency during this period, also on the part of priests and religious, to adopt ways of thinking and assessing secular realities without sufficient reference to the Gospel. The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse, which has contributed in no small measure to the weakening of faith and the loss of respect for the Church and her teachings.

What a colossal crock.
For any innocent believers out there, at #21 Maria posted a link to wikipedia’s article on the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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