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 ...
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?
We have been saying this for years, but no one believed us.
It is not sexual misconduct, rather it is sexual assault, that Catholic priests were accused of in the John Jay Study. The topic isn't "who's accused of sexual misconduct", it's "who's accused of committing a felony against a minor".
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.
Should I consider the intentional conflation of "statutory rape" with "sexual misconduct" to be deflecting attention? Damn straight I do, skippy. The John Jay study speaks of 4% of Catholic clergy (mostly priests ordained between 1950 and 1979) who were accused of raping underage male parishioners. Let's get back to your post now, to see a prime example of how this deflection is pitched to the masses:
...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.
The John Jay study (or at least the American Catholic-hosted story on it) does not speak of simply "relations" and "intercourse" but rather of rape and assault and felonies and crimes. But for argument's sake, let's take apart your statistics anyway, and see where they lead us:
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. To start, we have 38% of Protestant clergy have engaged in inappropriate sexual relations. How are "inappropriate sexual relations" defined? Guess what? They're not. We know what it isn't, however - sexual intercourse. How do we know? Because only 12% of the 38% have engaged in actual intercourse!
So 88% had some kind of undefined "sexual relationship" that did not include intercourse. But check out what those percentages hide! To break it down:
Out of 100% of all Protestant clergy,4.6% are accused of inappropriate sexual intercourse, but are not accused of statutory rape or sexual assault. So what was that line again? Ah yes, here it is:
- 95.5% have not engaged in sexual intercourse inappropriately (62% not accused plus 88% of 38% accused)
--- 62% stand not accused of any inappropriate sexual relations (100%-38%)
--- 38% stand accused of inappropriate sexual relations
---- 4.6% stand accused of inappropriate sexual intercourse (12% of 38%)
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.
Of the 38% of all Protestant clergy being accused of some level of inappropriate sexual contact, only 4.6% have engaged in actual sexual intercourse outside of marriage. And none of them of rape.
If the Catholic apologist were really comparing apples to apples, the real statistics would speak of Protestant clergy accused of criminal sexual contact with minors, or would adjust the John Jay study's four percent upwards to include inappropriate but otherwise legal sexual relations. But the Catholic apologist does no such thing. They start with John Jay's 4%, move on to Protestantism's 38%, and leave the reader thinking that 4% "statutory rape" is comparable to 38% "inappropriate relations".
Sometimes you have to keep score, to tell when the other side is moving the goalposts on you.
The priests identified as accused in the John Jay study committed offenses ranging from outright rape to inappropriate touching. Especially with older adolescents, “sexual assault” doesn't quite properly describe all these cases.
Thus, “sexual misconduct” better fits the entire range of accusations.
“So 88% had some kind of undefined ‘sexual relationship’ that did not include intercourse.”
You misread what I wrote. Of the pastors responding to the survey, 12% admitted to sexual intercourse. 38% admitted to at least some inappropriate sexual behavior. Not 12% of the 38%. Twelve percent of all the pastors who completed the survey.
So, your little trick of multiplying 12% by 38% is inaccurate.
“If the Catholic apologist were really comparing apples to apples, the real statistics would speak of Protestant clergy accused of criminal sexual contact with minors,...”
Unfortunately, it doesn't appear that Protestant powers-that-be have the guts to do what the Catholic hierarchy did, in paying someone to find out the extent of the problem in our Church.
First, I do wonder if this is reported correctly.
Second, saying “Well all the other guys are doing it!” is not a defense. In many ways it means you have no defense.
First, I have to ask who you think these "Protestant powers-that-be" are? Because if they haven't got the guts, it leads me to ask where did the statistics come from?
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.
It seems to me that forbidding homosexuals from becoming priests would pretty much solve the problem, no?
Maybe. As others will tell you, the Catholic Church's problems with paedophile and ephebophile clergy is statistically behind them. The days of having 4% abusers is over, or so we're told.
But the scandal was never really about the 4% abusers in their ranks. The real scandal was that 66% of bishops covered for the 4%, negatively affecting 95% of the dioceses in the United States - actions which cost the Catholic Church over three billion dollars paid in settlements and awards to the victims.
“...it leads me to ask where did the statistics come from?”
I've never seen comprehensive statistics on Protestant clergy abuse of children. There are fragmented statistics that suggest perhaps at least 400 cases per year or thereabouts (which would have been 20,000 kids over 50 years). But the documents I've seen are fragmentary and likely don't paint the whole picture, and I'm not really sure of the complete context in which they exist, so I usually avoid referencing them.
That was kinda the point of your post - that I was comparing overall sexual abuse by Protestant clergy - which appears to involve roughly 2 in 5 Protestant clergypersons - with sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests - which appears to have involved roughly 4% of priests - or about 1 in 25 - over the past 50 or so years.
As I said, I've never seen comprehensive, in-depth statistics as exist in the John Jay study, requested and paid for by the Catholic Church, for Protestant clergy. I just figure that the Protestant powers-that-be just don't have the guts to do what our bishops did.
Not only that, they may not have the means. In congregational churches, there are a lot of deals that are cut, where a compromised pastor has enough support among the “deacons” to cut a deal. He departs and gets to keep his reputation as he moves on to another congregation. There may be no paper trail. It is pretty much the same game in the public schools, where a teacher plays around with a young cutey, or at least is accused of it. He then moves on, maybe to another state, and his former district does not bother to warn other districts for fear of trouble.
Yet conclusions have been formed and applied and prosecuted anyway. From post #56:
...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....Still no authoritative source for these statistics has been provided. Still the conflation of "sexual misconduct" and "felony assault" is being made. Still the goalposts are moved, and after wiping one's hands the only acknowledgement forthcoming is 'I've done nothing wrong.'
....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!
As I stated before, the real scandal was that 66% of Catholic bishops covered for the 4% of sexual predators among Catholic clergy. Their actions negatively affected 95% of the dioceses in the United States. Their actions cost the Catholic Church over three billion dollars paid in settlements and awards to the victims. Two-thirds of the bishops. Roughly the same percentage that chose not to speak out when Notre Dame honored Obama last spring. Coincidence?
Let's see the comparable statistics for Protestant clergy who intentionally cover up rapists and felons within their ranks.
The Bishops Who Speak... And Those Who Don't
So how many bishops back Notre Dame now?
Kneeling Before the World [Catholic Caucus]
Immunity, Denied (Catholic Caucus)
Sixth Circuit: Vatican Can Be Sued for Sexual Abuse
[Faithful Departed author Philip] Lawler points out that while less than five percent of American priests have been accused of sexual abuse, some two-thirds of our bishops were apparently complicit in cover-ups. The real scandal isn't the sick excesses of a few dozen pedophiles, or even the hundreds of priests who had affairs with teenage boys -- the bulk of abuse cases. No, according to Lawler, it is the malfeasance of wealthy, powerful, and evidently worldly men who fill the thrones -- but not the shoes -- of the apostles. In case after case, we read in their correspondence, in the records of their soulless, bureaucratic responses to victims of psychic torture and spiritual betrayal, these bishops' prime concern was to save the infrastructure, the bricks and mortar and mortgages. Ironically, their lack of a supernatural concern for souls is precisely what cost them so much money in the end.
There are three different sorts of data regarding these questions that I've seen.
The first is the gold standard - where someone endeavors to do a comprehensive account of the behavior in question. The count covers both the numbers of perpetrators and victims. The attempt is made to be exhaustive, and the results are reported publicly. This is the nature of the John Jay study and its subsequent report. The study isn't perfect. One problem with the report is that it merely counted accusations made without any attempt to distinguish between reasonable accusations and accusations that are less likely to be true. Nonetheless, the report is probably as good as it's going to get.
Unfortunately, I'm unaware of any reports of this nature covering Protestant communities and ministers and victims. None. So, from the get go, we're comparing apples and oranges.
The next best sort of data derives from research conducted by social scientists using appropriate research methodologies. This doesn't come near to the standard set by the John Jay report, but it's the best that's been done with regard to the Protestant communities.
Thus, I've relied mostly on this data, flawed and incomplete as it is.
However, I haven't personally seen any methodical research studies that specifically address the question of sexual abuse of children by Protestant ministers. Thus, it's tough to make an apples-to-apples comparison between the scandal in the Catholic Church and the unreported scandals amongst the various Protestant communities.
What this data relates is that although direct comparisons with the data we have for the Catholic Church are difficult to make, it is clear that Protestant clergy have an enormous problem regarding sexual abuse.
That's not deflection, that's just the truth.
And if you want to tell me that a minister who has sex with someone he is counseling (a common scenario) isn't sexual abuse, even if ostensibly “consensual,” then I will say that it is you who is minimizing the enormous problem seen generally among Protestant clergy. A minister who has an illicit affair with a member of his congregation is doing more than just fornicating or committing adultery (As if these were relatively trivial offenses!!). He is committing a serious breach of trust with the sheep of his flock. In some states, it is actually illegal for a minister to have a sexual relationship with someone he is counseling.
And that's really all this article above reports the Church saying - We have our problems and we've attended to them. You have your own problems, why not address them?
A third sort of data comprises a hodgepodge of data sets that suffer from definitional problems, incompleteness, and that they often represent a different set of parameters than those used in the John Jay study. I've avoided this sort of data because it's difficult to draw much from it other than the fact that Protestant communities have a huge nearly-unreported problem with sexually molesting children that seems to go unabated even as the Catholic Church seems to have gotten more of a handle on Her problem.
One source of data that stands out in my mind is the report of various insurance companies that handle Protestant ecclesial communities. These companies pay somewhere between 260 and 330 claims per year, and have done so for a couple of decades or more, for child sexual abuse on the part of Protestant ministers. The last year that I've seen reported was 2006, if I recall correctly. In that year, the Catholic Church throughout the United States received 14 new claims of abuse against children under 18.
This data is suggestive that there have been roughly 15,000 sexually abused children by Protestant ministers over the last 50 years (roughly 300 claims per year X 50 years).
But before this, I've avoided noting this in our correspondence because frankly, I think that those numbers could be off by a factor of two or three or more.
Factors that would tend to suggest that these numbers might be on the high side include:
- One of the companies reports an average of 73 cases per year, seemingly most of child sexual abuse, but an unknown number of those cases comprise abuse against adults (It's ironic that you would choose to distinguish so sharply between abuse of adults and abuse of children. A little bit of “your sins are worse than ours,” an attitude of which we Catholics often are accused in these discussions.).
- These companies only tell us about the last 15 - 20+ years, not the last 50 years, and thus, we have to extrapolate data in a way with which I'm completely uncomfortable. Yet, it we don't extrapolate, we have no data to compare chronologically apples-to-apples to the John Jay data.
Factors that suggest that these numbers drastically minimize the absolute number of victims include:
- The John Jay study included ALL known accusations that hadn't actually been disproven. The insurance company numbers represent claims that are actually credible enough for the insurance companies to be involved.
- The John Jay study endeavored to count ALL claims of abuse. During the time that the John Jay study was conducted, I remember the Church actively seeking out unknown, previously unreported victims through various media. Advertisements ran in Catholic periodicals urging people to come forward with their stories of abuse, no matter how long ago in the past. We had inserts in our bulletins, etc. The insurance companies passively deal with what claims are made to them, and don't endeavor to go out and search for victims not previously identified. One might conclude that the John Jay approach would yield comparatively more cases than the insurance companies’ approach.
- There is no claim to be made that the insurance companies’ cases represent the total universe of cases of child abuse. I imagine that many storefront Protestant groups just don't have the bucks to do everything that a large, established congregation might do, and it wouldn't surprise me if many of these folks don't have liability insurance against sexual abuse.
Furthermore, it's quite likely that many congregations deal with victims in a variety of ways other than having them file claims against their insurance companies. I'm sure that in many cases, victims are urged to keep their mouths shut. I've read of cases where pastors with big reputations were able to keep their many victims under wraps for decades at a time. For every pastor where scandal explodes in his face after many years, how many are still keeping things in the dark? Remember, there is no John Jay College hunting down every conceivable allegation of abuse.
As well, many congregations choose to quietly pay off victims without involving the insurance companies, because otherwise, it will draw wider attention and scandal. I've seen many cases reported like this, where the minister is permitted to resign and go elsewhere and abuse again, as no public notice is ever given of his abuse. Kinda sounds like some of what was charged against the Catholic Church...
But we don't have any conceivable idea of how often or how rare that might be in Protestant groups because... well... no Protestant groups have stepped up to do the hard work that the Catholic Church did with the John Jay study.
We only know that Protestant clergy have raped large numbers - thousands and thousands, possibly some tens of thousands - of underaged children over the past five decades.
These problems suggest that the cases reported by the insurance may only be the tip of the iceberg of sexual abuse against children under 18 by Protestant clergy. Fifteen thousand over 50? Who knows? Maybe 50,000!
But that's speculation, and previous to this, I'd resisted speculating on the numbers of underage victims of Protestant clergy. It's clearly in the many thousands. It's clearly in a similar ballpark as what Catholic priests did, but whether it's roughly the same number of kids, or 50% more kids or 500% more kids is unknowable. So I didn't speculate.
Rather, I focused on the better data, which only deals with improper sexual conduct. Not to deflect, but rather not to introduce shaky speculation into the conversation.
Of course, this really only looks at one side of the equation - how many victims were there? We know that there were at least thousands of children sexually abused by Protestant clergy, perhaps tens of thousands. But by how many clergy? I've never seen ANY statistic regarding that.
We know that roughly 4,000 priest abused roughly 11,000 children. Does that 3:1 ratio apply to Protestant clergy? I have no idea. For one thing, we know that most Catholic priests were guilty of abusing one or two children, and a small subset abused very large numbers of children. Is that the statistical model that would apply to Protestant clergy? I have no idea. No one in the Protestant communities has done the hard work to figure it out. That that data doesn't exist at all is hardly the fault of the Catholic Church.
That's another reason I preferred to look at research data that focused on percentages of Protestant clergy who were sexually abusive (and again, having sexual intercourse outside of marriage with a member of your own congregation is certainly abusive, even if "consensual"). How those statistics relate directly to the Church's problem is difficult to say. But it certainly sustains the comment that these problems cross all religious groups, and that folks doing the pointing might wish to look to clean up their own houses.
Thus, it isn't a matter of Catholic disciplines or our theology that has been at the root of these evils. It's sin. And it's sin that crosses all religious borders and boundaries. AND THAT'S REALLY THE POINT.
As for “covering up,” well, definitions change. We say that two-thirds of Catholic bishops “covered up” abuse by Catholic priests, but that definition now appears to be:
- if the case wasn't made public;
- if prosecution wasn't sought against the offender. - if the offender wasn't expelled from the priesthood.
Frankly, as I've discussed previously, and which you seem to have studiously ignored, the standards were different 30 and more years ago.
Before the 1980s, the standard way of dealing with accusations of abuse included:
- Making an internal investigation of the charges;
- If the charges could be reasonably sustained, working with the victim and the family of the victim, always providing outside counseling at the Church's expense, coming to terms on any other financial settlement, and asking whether the victim and family wished to advance beyond these actions.
- Prosecution was discouraged because folks in the mental health community had counseled that this was often harmful to the victim.
- In many communities, law enforcement and judicial officers preferred that the Church deal with Her own problems and keep them out of it.
- The abuser was always sent off for therapy. In some cases, these men were laicized outright. In other cases, they were reassigned to posts where they would not come into contact with children. I remember reading about one case where then-Archbishop Hickey of Washington appointed a man to be the chaplain at the maximum security prison in Richmond.
Unfortunately, in a subset of cases, victims were truly silenced, were truly stonewalled, and abusers were reassigned to places where they would abuse more children.
THESE CASES truly represent cover-ups and scandal.
The cases where the above-mentioned guidelines were followed may represent a flawed methodology, but not cover-up and scandal. It was well-known which priests were reassigned to the two therapy centers in the United States, one in Maryland, and one in Arizona. Dioceses often made no secret of the assignment of priests to these two places, and everyone knew what that meant.
In a number of cases that I can personally recall, priests REFUSED to go to the therapy centers, as it was pretty much a silent confession of guilt of child sexual abuse. These priests were suspended, and in at least one case, the suspended priest broke off and formed his own pseudo-Catholic “church,” and took with him some 80,000 souls.
Since the mid-1980s, however, the Church's guidelines have included alerting law enforcement whenever a priest abuser is discovered. Not all dioceses followed this protocol in all cases, but I know that in my own archdiocese, every single priest against whom allegations were made from 1986 on was turned over for further investigation to law enforcement. That's over a decade-and-a-half BEFORE the Boston Globe broke the “news” about Catholic priest sexual abuse.
But turning folks over to the authorities represented a change on the part of not just the bishops, but the mental health professionals, and to a large degree, law enforcement itself.
To allege that prior to that time, if a priest wasn't turned over to authorities, that that represented a “cover-up” is to be anachronistic.
Nonetheless, the bishops aren't covered in glory with regard to all this. Many of them (not two-thirds, but a substantial number) DID truly cover-up, and DID reassign priests wrongly, and DID treat victims poorly, unjustly. And I suspect that some other bishops knew what these bishops were doing and turned a blind eye.
But the charge that two-thirds of Catholic bishops “covered-up” isn't sustained.
“Let's see the comparable statistics for Protestant clergy who intentionally cover up rapists and felons within their ranks.”
Unfortunately, because Protestants generally have been satisfied to look the other way and generally charge that this is a Catholic problem, because Protestants haven't done the hard work that Catholics have done, and because the various Protestant ecclesial groupings just aren't the juicy media targets that the Catholic Church is, there are no comparable statistics. Because unlike the Catholic Church, which paid big bucks to find out and report as much of the bad news as they could pay someone to find, none of the Protestant ecclesial communities have had the guts to find out.
The frequent charge that this all came about as a result of priestly celibacy or the "evils" of Catholic theology is not sustained, as these problems - sexual abuse by clergy, and yes, significant numbers of sexual abuse of children by clergy, exist in the Protestant communities as well.
That Protestants generally seem to have had a problem to own up to their own problems, preferring to blame distinctive features of the Church rather than face the fact that the problem crosses religions, is hardly a sin of the Catholic Church, of Catholic bishops or priests, or Catholics generally.
To fail to recognize that this is the failing of each and every Protestant group is a major case of deflection and projection.
the well of scorn is endless when it comes to abuse and victimization of children