Skip to comments.Sex abuse rife in other religions, says Vatican
Posted on 09/29/2009 9:31:08 AM PDT by Alex Murphy
The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its paedophilia crisis by saying the Catholic church was "busy cleaning its own house" and that the problems with clerical sex abuse in other churches were as big, if not bigger.
In a defiant and provocative statement, issued following a meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva, the Holy See said the majority of Catholic clergy who committed such acts were not paedophiles but homosexuals attracted to sex with adolescent males.
The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that "available research" showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.
He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.
He added that sexual abuse was far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbours, and male children were quite often guilty of sexual molestation of other children.
The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would "be more correct" to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.
"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17."
The statement concluded: "As the Catholic church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it."
The Holy See launched its counterattack after an international representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Keith Porteous Wood
(Excerpt) Read more at guardian.co.uk ...
If "Dear" can provoke such a reaction, I can only imagine what happens when some gray-haired restaurant waitress calls you "Honey."
Quite the opposite, actually: abject revulsion.
Discuss the issues, not each other.
At it's apex, the USCCB's John Jay Study reported that 4% of all (US) priests serving from 1950 until 2002 were accused of abuse. The John Jay study puts real numbers on that percentage:
The study said that 4,392 clergymenalmost all priestswere accused of abusing 10,667 people, with 75 percent of the incidents taking place between 1960 and 1984. During the same time frame there were 109,694 priests, it said....
....68 percent of the allegations were made against priests ordained between 1950 and 1979, while priests ordained after 1979 accounted for 10.7 percent of the allegations.
For the entire 52-year period "the problem was indeed widespread and affected more than 95 percent of the dioceses and approximately 60 percent of religious communities," said the study.
“Accused of abuse” and “guilty of abuse” aren’t the same thing, at least, not in America.
Perhaps it’s different in Geneva...at least where Catholics are concerned.
To use the technical, Catholic term: bingo.
Thanks for the perspective in absolute numbers. Even if those numbers will be debated, that’s a whole lot of abuse cases...only for the US - never mind the rest of the world. The ‘Boss’ really needs to get on top of things. NOW!
Oh, as a PS: Why exactly would abuse numbers in other religions justify the appalling abuse by Catholic clergy? Just doesn’t make sense to me.
Correct - and AFAIK, no numbers have ever been published saying how many of the 4,392 clergymen have admitted to or been found guilty of sexual and moral crimes. But then again, no numbers have ever been published saying how many of the 4,392 clergymen have been exonerated of sexual and moral accusations, either.
If the InsideCatholic.com blog can be believed, two-thirds of all American bishops were complicit in covering up the immoral and illegal actions of 4% or fewer Catholic clergymen. All we can say with certainty is that 96+% - 105,302 Catholic clergymen - were never accused, yet 95 percent of all Catholic dioceses in the United States were impacted negatively. The numbers are more damning for the bishops then they are for the priests.
Lastly, it's worth pointing out that no numbers have been published about the levels of abuse committed by Catholic (or other) clergy worldwide. We have no way of knowing if that John-Jay-confirmed 4% accused ratio holds true of clergy outside of America.
How about among worshipers of the obamassiah? Oh, wait, it’s not abuse among them, it’s the way they would have us all behave.
‘Justify’ in the sense of comparing the numbers within the Catholic church to other religions. Which seems to be the thrust of the topic article. The “well, there’s others that are even worse than us” type of argument doesn’t get a lot of milage with me.
As a Catholic, I was bitterly disappointed and outraged at some of the shenanigans of some of our bishops. That there will be priests who commit grevious sins is a given. That many of the cases of abuse would be settled quietly was appropriate. But that some bishops just played musical chairs with some of the worst offenders was without excuse. And that while some bishops were playing musical chairs with the most awful priests, many other bishops and priests averted their gaze makes our blood boil.
However, as the scandal unfolded, we Catholics were barraged by ignorami (especially here at Free Republic) who claimed either that the problem traced to priestly celibacy or worse, to the evil “system” of the “Roman Catholic edifice” or garbage like that, or some combination thereof. We Catholics have had to put up with a lot of holier-than-thou self-righteous ignorant non-Catholics who supposed that this was exclusively or mostly a Catholic problem, related to our “wrong” theology and “evil” disciplines.
Thus, we have taken pains to show that sexual misconduct among clergy has not been an exclusively or predominantly Catholic problem. Not to say that somehow, non-Catholics are worse than Catholics, but rather to say, it seems to be a problem that crosses religions, and is not a “Catholic problem,” and thus, is not tied to our practices or theology.
Of course, when we make this argument, ignorami (often the same ignormai who blamed the problem on our disiplines and/or theology) then said that we were “keeeping score,” or trying to deflect attention from the sins of our clergy, or trying to say that non-Catholics are worse than Catholics. This sort of thing is of the variety “damned if you do and damned if you don't.”
What we see in this article is the Church making the argument that this is not a problem that arises from Catholicism, but rather is a problem that is universal to all religions, in fact, to all social institutions (and yes, in some social institutions, it is far worse than it has been in the Catholic Church, or any other Christian community, for that matter).
An in fact, the Church is correct. The clergy from non-Catholic Christian denominations commit inappropriate sexual improprieties at rates which appear to exceed that of Catholic priests. I saw one study that showed that 38% of Protestant clergy had inappropriate sexual relations with their congregants, and fully 12% of these relationships had been consummated in sexual intercourse. This study was of self-reporting Protestant clergy. In other words, the researcher surveyed Protestant clergy, and this is what they admitted to the researcher.
I haven't seen break-outs of homosexual vs. heterosexual, or sexual abuse of minors vs. sexual predation of adult congregants.
But studies like this one indicate that sexual predation is certainly not the exclusive, or even predominant territory of Catholicism.
As well, the rate of abuse in certain public institutions far exceeds anything found in our churches. One study showed that roughly 7 out of every 400 female congregants in Protestant ecclesial communities had been taken advantage of sexually by a Protestant clergy person. I don't know how they're counting congregants. Everyone who claims to be a Protestant Christian? Or just folks who are registered in Protestant communities? Or just folks who actually show up on Sundays? In any event, based on the percentages we've already discussed, that suggests that somewhere between a couple of hundred thousand and a million Protestant congregants have been sexually taken advantage of by a member of their clergy. Yikes!
But that's nothing. I've seen studies that suggest that 1 out of every EIGHT public school children will be molested by a public school teacher before graduating 12th grade.
“Saying that child abuse is ‘common’ in American Jewish Synagogues is really even more disgusting.”
That wasn't what was actually said. Here is the quote:
“He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.”
What was alleged about Jewish communities was that “sexual abuse” was common, not “child sex abuse.” I have seen research that suggests that this statement is by-and-large true. The percentage of Jewish religious personnel who confess to improper sexual activities with other persons is in double digits. Although that doesn't mean that all rabbis commit sexual sins with others, it does mean that more than 1 out of 10 apparently do. That's unfortunately more common than anyone would like.
Another reason why we Catholics want to talk about this sort of thing is because for many of us, seeing what happened in our own Church has opened our eyes, and we see the problem doesn't only exist in our own Church, but in other religions, too, and most especially, in the broader secular society. And we wish to see something done in these other communities and institutions.
We have gone through it. We've learned some things. Now, we're sounding the alarm - the problem exists elsewhere, and needs to be addressed elsewhere. We are very cautious in our Church now. I don't let my sons alone with priests or other parish personnel, whether volunteer or paid. I, myself, as a leader in my parish, have had to submit to a criminal background check conducted by the FBI. I have been finger-printed and my fingerprints are now on permanent record with the FBI, because sometimes I occasionally lead activities in my parish for the benefit of children. Paid workers in our parishes must undergo annual renewal of their criminal background checks.
But I read that in many public school jurisdictions (including ones local to me), thousands of workers have never had criminal background checks, and are only discovered to have unsavory records after they're caught harming a child.
So, having seen the devastation in our own Church, we turn to the wider society with newly-opened eyes, and realize how much worse the problem is within the wider society, and how much work needs to be done.
We HAVE done the work, and we HAVE addressed our problems. Sin will always happen, but the number of cases of child abuse in the United States in the Catholic Church has dropped from its peak in the 1980s of hundreds of cases per year to a handful each year. And these cases are quickly, and publicly dealt with.
Other religious communities, and social institutions broadly, could learn much from us and our bitter experiences.
I would point out that not all of the behavior of all these bishops was truly wrong.
When I was in graduate school the first time (back in the early 1980s), the idea that we psychotherapists (which is what I was studying at the time) would be obliged by law to turn in self-confessed child abusers was rather controversial. Our professors were generally against this violation of privilege, although we students mostly thought it was a good idea. But the orthodox view prior to this time was that handling these cases quietly was better for the victim.
Thus, in the Archdiocese of Washington, as an example, a priest discovered to be an abuser would be sent to therapy. If he was permitted to return to the ministry at all, he would get a job such as chaplain at the local maximum security prison. He wasn’t returned to ministry where he would ordinarily come into contact with children again.
In many cases, he would be removed from ministry altogether.
But as was the practice of the day, in most all of our social institutions, these men were nearly never prosecuted. This was often with the knowledge of local law enforcement.
As well, the Church began to take this problem seriously in the early 1980s, not long after Pope John Paul II ascended to the throne of Peter. If one looks at the Jay report, one sees the problem at its worst as the Church entered the 1980s, peaking in the mid-1980s, and then declining more than 90% by the early 1990s. Long before anything was reported in the Boston Globe.
So the actions taken by the Church starting in the 1980s began to substantially mitigate the problem over the next decade. Even if the solutions implemented were imperfect, even if the way abusers and victims were handled was flawed, the Church DID recognize the problem and DID work to resolve it. And was highly effective in reducing the incidence of abuse over time.
Experience has taught that some of the methods used - especially resolving specific cases privately - probably were not the best way to deal with them. But I’m not willing to heap much blame on bishops who acted thusly. Especially because in many dioceses, these cases didn’t come up often.
Think about it - there are nearly 300 dioceses in the United States. There were roughly 4000 accused priests over the course of 50+ years. That works out to an average of about one abusive priest per diocese about every four years.
Smaller dioceses may not have had more than one abuser a decade or more.
Many bishops saw fewer than a handful of cases.
Although the entire hierarchy had room for improvement in how to deal with these priests, the truly evil stuff was limited to a handful of large dioceses with large numbers of abusers, and especially with particularly vile repeat abusers. Cardinal Law’s Archdiocese of Boston became emblamatic of this subset.
And there were some bishops whose behavior was shockingly evil. When he was an auxiliary bishop, in Bridgeport if I recall, then-Bishop Egan knew of a priest who had abused FOURTEEN young men, none of whom knew each other or were aware of each other. Even though each young man told essentially the same story of abuse, then-Bishop Egan actually asked each set of parents, “How do I know your son isn’t lying?” to deflect these cases from this priest.
If it were up to me, Cardinal Egan would have been sent to Rome to a newly-revived Holy Office of the Inquisition and would have been sent to be burned at the stake.
And I’m sure that even though they didn’t all engage in the practices of Egan in Bridgeport, or the Archbishops of Boston (Cardinal Law took the blame for 50 years of bad archbishops there, not that he was a real peach or anything), many if not most of the bishops were aware of what was going on in the dioceses that were black pits of abuse.
Nonetheless, in most dioceses at most times over the past 60 years, there weren't great tidal waves of absue, and much of it, when discovered, was dealt with seriously and with at least some effectiveness.
Sit up higher in your chair and the reason won’t sail so far over your grape.
Did you save any scorn for the criminals at the UN or are you spent?