Skip to comments.Scoundrel Time(s)
Posted on 03/29/2010 6:37:38 AM PDT by marshmallow
The sexual and physical abuse of children and young people is a global plague; its manifestations run the gamut from fondling by teachers to rape by uncles to kidnapping-and-sex-trafficking. In the United States alone, there are reportedly some 39 million victims of childhood sexual abuse. Forty to sixty percent were abused by family members, including stepfathers and live-in boyfriends of a childs motherthus suggesting that abused children are the principal victims of the sexual revolution, the breakdown of marriage, and the hook-up culture. Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft reports that 6-10 percent of public school students have been molested in recent yearssome 290,000 between 1991 and 2000. According to other recent studies, 2 percent of sex abuse offenders were Catholic priestsa phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared (six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members).
Yet in a pattern exemplifying the dogs behavior in Proverbs 26:11, the sexual abuse story in the global media is almost entirely a Catholic story, in which the Catholic Church is portrayed as the epicenter of the sexual abuse of the young, with hints of an ecclesiastical criminal conspiracy involving sexual predators whose predations continue today. That the vast majority of the abuse cases in the United States took place decades ago is of no consequence to this story line. For the narrative that has been constructed is often less about the protection of the young (for whom the Catholic Church is, by empirical measure, the safest environment for young people in America today) than it is about taking the Church downand, eventually, out, both financially and as a credible voice in the public debate over public policy. For if the Church is a global criminal conspiracy of sexual abusers and their protectors, then the Catholic Church has no claim to a place at the table of public moral argument.
The Church itself is in some measure responsible for this. Reprehensible patterns of clerical sexual abuse and misgovernance by the Churchs bishops came to glaring light in the U.S. in 2002; worse patterns of corruption have been recently revealed in Ireland. Clericalism, cowardice, fideism about psychotherapys ability to fix sexual predatorsall played their roles in the recycling of abusers into ministry and in the failure of bishops to come to grips with a massive breakdown of conviction and discipline in the post-Vatican II years. For the Churchs sexual abuse crisis has always been that: a crisis of fidelity. Priests who live the noble promises of their ordination are not sexual abusers; bishops who take their custody of the Lords flock seriously, protect the young and recognize that a mans acts can so disfigure his priesthood that he must be removed from public ministry or from the clerical state. That the Catholic Church was slow to recognize the scandal of sexual abuse within the household of faith, and the failures of governance that led to the scandal being horribly mishandled, has been frankly admittedby the bishops of the United States in 2002, and by Pope Benedict XVI in his recent letter to the Catholic Church in Ireland. In recent years, though, no other similarly situated institution has been so transparent about its failures, and none has done as much to clean house. It took too long to get there, to be sure; but we are there.
These facts have not sunk in, however, for either the attentive public or the mass public. They do not fit the conventional story line. Moreover, they impede the advance of the larger agenda that some are clearly pursuing in these controversies. For the crisis of sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance has been seized upon by the Churchs enemies to cripple it, morally and financially, and to cripple its leaders. That was the subtext in Boston in 2002 (where the effort was aided by Catholics who want to turn Catholicism into high-church Congregationalism, preferably with themselves in charge). And that is what has happened in recent weeks, as a global media attack has swirled around Pope Benedict XVI, following the revelation of odious abuse cases throughout Europe. In his native Germany, Der Spiegel has called for the popes resignation; similar cries for papal blood have been raised in Ireland, a once-Catholic country now home to the most aggressively secularist press in Europe.
But it was the New York Times front page of March 25 that demonstrated just how low those determined to bring the Church down were prepared to go.
Rembert Weakland is the emeritus archbishop of Milwaukee, notorious for having paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to satisfy the demands of his former male lover. Jeff Anderson is a Minnesota-based attorney who has made a substantial amount of money out of sex abuse settlements, and who is party to ongoing litigation intended to bring the resources of the Vatican within the reach of contingency-fee lawyers in the United States. Yet these two utterly implausibleand, in any serious journalistic sense, disqualifiedsources were those the Times cited in a story claiming that, as cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith [CDF], Joseph Ratzinger, later Benedict XVI, had prevented sanctions against Father Lawrence Murphy, a diabolical Milwaukee priest who, decades before, had abused some 200 deaf children in his pastoral care. This was simply not true, as the legal papers from the Murphy case the Times provided on its Web site demonstrated (see here for a demolition of the Times case based on the documentary evidence it made available). The facts, alas, seem to be of little interest to those whose primary concern is to nail down the narrative of global Catholic criminality, centered in the Vatican.
The Times descent into tabloid sourcing and innuendo was even more offensive because of recent hard news developments that underscore Pope Benedicts determination to root out what he once described as the filth in the Church. There was, for example, the popes March 20 letter to the Catholic Church in Ireland, which was unsparing in its condemnation of clerical sexual offenders (. . . you betrayed the trust that was placed in you by innocent young people and their parents and you must answer for it before Almighty God and before properly constituted tribunals) and unprecedented in its critique of malfeasant bishops (grave errors of judgment were made and failures of leadership occurred . . . [which have] undermined your credibility and effectiveness). Moreover, the pope mandated an Apostolic Visitation of Irish dioceses, seminaries, and religious congregationsa clear indication that dramatic leadership change in Ireland is coming. In framing his letter to Ireland so vigorously, Benedict XVI succeeded in overcoming the institutional Vatican preference for the subjunctive in dealing with situations like this, and the pleas of Irish bishops that he cut them some slack, given the intense pressures they were under at home. That the pope rejected both curial and Irish opposition to his lowering the boom ought to have made clear that Benedict XVI is determined to deal with the problem of sexual abuse and episcopal misgovernance in the strongest terms. But for those obsessing over whether a pope had finally apologized for something (as if John Paul II had not spent a decade and a half cleansing the Churchs historical conscience, as he put it), these unmistakable signals were lost.
Then there was the March 25 letter from the leadership of the Legionaries of Christ to Legionary priests and seminarians and the Legion-affiliated movement, Regnum Christi. The letter disavowed the Legions founder, Father Marcial Maciel, as a model for the future, in light of revelations that Maciel had deceived popes, bishops, laity, and his brother Legionaries by living a duplicitous double life that included fathering several children, sexually abusing seminarians, violating the sacrament of penance, and misappropriating funds. It was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who, as prefect CDF, was determined to discover the truth about Maciel; it was Pope Benedict XVI who put Maciel under virtual ecclesiastical house arrest during his last years, and who then ordered an Apostolic Visitation of the Legion of Christ that is currently being concluded: hardly the acts of a man at the center of a conspiracy of silence and cover-up.
While the Vatican has been far quicker in its recent response to irresponsible media reports and attacks, it could still do better. A documented chronology how the archdiocese of Munich-Freising handled the case of an abusing priest who had been brought to Munich for therapy while Ratzinger was archbishop would help buttress the flat denials, by both the Vatican and the archdiocese, that Ratzinger knowingly reassigned a known abuser to pastoral workanother charge on which the Times and others have been chewing. More and clearer explanations of how the canonical procedures put into place at CDF several years ago have accelerated, not impeded, the Churchs disciplining of abusive clergy would also be useful.
So, of course, would elementary fairness from the global media. That seems unlikely to come from those reporters and editors at the New York Times who have abandoned any pretence of maintaining journalistic standards. But it ought not be beyond the capacity of other media outlets to understand that much of the Times recent reporting on the Church has been gravely distorted, and to treat it accordingly.
George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washingtons Ethics and Public Policy Center, is the author of The Courage To Be Catholic: Crisis, Reform, and the Future of the Church (Basic Books).
“In the United States alone, there are reportedly some 39 million victims of childhood sexual abuse.”
” Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft reports that 6-10 percent of public school students have been molested in recent yearssome 290,000 between 1991 and 2000.”
Er, well actually I don’t buy this for one second.
“Er, well actually I dont buy this for one second”
Same here. Once you have an entrenched industry devoted to “finding” abuse, it’s amazing how you’ll find it everywhere.
Kinda like autism today.
Thanks for posting this. This is exactly my take on the whole situation. The gates of hell are always upon us.
Well, I do buy these facts. I substituted in numberous schools — almost all of the schools in my district’s residence area) — and you would be surprised at the behaviors I witnessed, the stories told by the teachers, etc. etc.
But that doesn’t make all schools bad, does it?
Likewise, because one priest sinned, does that make the entire Catholic Church bad?
Or because one minister molests children, does that make all Protestant and other ministers bad?
If such abuse is so common, and so intractable, then obviously children need to become inured to it. That is, to resist, but if still abused, then for them, the children, to minimize their emotional and spiritual damage.
This should be looked at from four angles. The first is that an abused child should “get over it” as soon as possible, instead of indulging in feelings of victimization. For them to remain victims, and to think of themselves as “damaged goods” for the rest of their lives compounds the injury. Instead they should be encouraged to “shrug it off”, even though it is up to them to do so. They cannot be made to do so, but they can be encouraged to do so.
The second angle is the noteworthy FBI statistic, that adults who were abused as children are much more likely to be sexually assaulted as adults. This indicates that they, as people, give off body language or other signals that attract aggressors. Such signals are well known to muggers searching for victims, so it is not improbable that sexual assault victims do so as well. Importantly, it does not matter if they have always projected such signals, or if they do so now because of their abuse. But it is important that they stop doing so.
It is also known that martial artists are surprisingly less likely to get into fights, because other people pick up on their body language and moods that tells them to fight someone else. So there is common sense in teaching abuse and assault victims self defense.
The third angle is based on the idea that the abused often grow up to be abusers. This is because the abuse they were subjected to had a strong element of domination, which creates a distorted view of how superior-subordinate relationships work. Just because you are put in charge of a group does not mean you need to dominate them sexually.
This misunderstanding needs to be watched out for and corrected as soon as possible in an abuse victim. Otherwise it is like the bullied child who themselves become bullies.
And the fourth angle is to protect the abused child from those who would capitalize on their abuse for profit or political power. Yes, indeed there are scoundrels out there willing to compound the abuse at the expense of the abused.
The most probable pedophiles in order are:
Priests are way down on the list.
So if a father is a teacher of mid-high history, coaches the girls basketball team and is a youth minister at his church on weekends/Sundays watch out! He would be much more prone to pedophilia that any priest.
**According to other recent studies, 2 percent of sex abuse offenders were Catholic priestsa phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared (six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members).**
Did you miss this fact?
I worked the prev detail for a couple of years and you are wrong.
If you know my posting history, I've never bashed any religion, (Not even Mormons) but let me assure you the Evil One does his foul thing just about equal within both traditions.
Now if you are talking about taking the church building fund and running off with the Organist .... then you are correct.... Protestants lead the way.
What? 6 cases? What does that havoe to do with wild claims about 39 million sexually abused children.
I said I didn’t believe that 39 million children have been sexually abused nor do I believe that 10% of all school children are sexually abused.
This reminds me of the “Satanic Child Murders” that the shrinks were claiming was a widespread national phenomenon. The FBI proved it was entirely bogus. Or the “Repressed Memory Syndrome”. Another psychological industry fraud where hundreds of people were prosecuted and convicted based solely on the word of a child coached by a shrink. Just liars trying to amass money and political power.
None of this passes the smell test.
Why not decry pedophiles wherever they are, instead of trying to prove with statistics that Catholics are no worse than everyone else? Robotic defense of one’s own denomination is a distraction from the real issues.
It didn't say that there were 39 million children who had been sexually abused, it said that there were 39 million "victims of childhood sexual abuse". That would include adults who were molested as children.
That number seems high to me, but not unbelievably high.
Okay. That would mean 13% of the population. No way to know really.
It IS a good article. I am constantly amazed at how we are often *surprised* at the extent of sexual abuse when our culture seems obsessed with sex. It is any wonder?
Setting the record straight in the case of abusive Milwaukee priest Father Lawrence Murphy
Long Applause for New York Prelate Who Defends Pope
NYT UNFAIRLY CITES POPE'S ROLE [Catholic Caucus]
The Pope and the Murphy case: what the New York Times story didn't tell you
It is in this context that the defense of Benedict and even of the Catholic Church, not as a clerical bureaucracy or a sociological category but precisely as a church is not "robotic" and is not a kind of partisan team-spirit. It is very much part of the work of defending the innocent --- and bringing the guiilty to judgment.
Maybe the biggest catastrophe is this: the fact that those in the Catholic Church who have fought and are fighting with determination, intelligence, and moral uprightness against the forces of corruption, are themselves being attacked.
According to this article by George Weigel (Link)-- which maybe I should run as a thread in itself --- Sex abuse by priests is "a phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared (six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members). ...The Catholic Church is, by empirical measure, the safest environment for young people in America today."
But this is not in the news; or I could say, it's the news nobody knows: the thorough self-examination, investigation, and internal cleansing which has transformed and is transforming the Church in the USA, in the past 20 and especially the past 12 years, since the introduction of the VIRTUS child-protection program (Link) in Catholic parishes and schools.
It's a story that needs to be told. And Pope Benedict has been the captain leading the way.
But instead, we have the corrupt, like the New York Times and the pro-sodomy "moral ethicist" Daniel Maguire (Link) targeting the upright (Benedict) for destruction.
Maguire and the New York Times have their own reasons for attacking the very people who uphold the moral law. And that very attack is one of the most outstanding features of this very disturbing drama.
We all know the agenda of the anti-Christian Left. Still, that should not prompt anyone to robotically defend the Catholic Church vis-a-vis all other groups. That is what detracts and distracts from the main problem. I guess I am thoroughly sick of the denomination wars, and everyone's eagerness to jump back into them at the mention of anything to do with Catholicism when a larger issue is before us.
Pope Benedict is the one person at the Vatican who has done the most to fight the moral rot in the Church. The one thing the New York Times attacked then-Cardinal Ratzinger for during the years when he was head of the CDF, was his opposition to churchly corruption and his defense of the moral law.
And those who defend the moral law, defend children.
The attack on him now, at this time, is a strategic move to protect the corrupt.
And once again, the Lie is running around the world, while the Truth is still tying its shoes.