By Tom Quiner
The stunning announcement of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation has rocked the world.
Predictably, it has opened the door to a new wave of anti-Catholic attacks. Here’s a response Quiner’s Diner received to an earlier post today (“We owe him gratitude“):
“Just a pity that his ‘placing the needs of the church’ above all else led him to ignore the evidence of abuse of vulnerable children by Roman Catholic priests and lead an immoral and unforgivable cover up of this scandal. I guess those damaged young people probably don’t feel the same ‘debt of gratitude’ that you do. You, too, should be ashamed.”
Clarification is called for.
Pope Benedict did not ignore the evidence of abuse, he confronted it, as did his predecessor, Pope John Paul II.
When the media broke the abuse scandal in 2002, the Church responded with tight, new protocols. I was involved with a youth choir at the time. The Church required me and ANYONE involved with youth to undergo training and be certified before we could continue our ministries.
No adult or clergy could be alone with a child or adolescent. I had kids who asked me for rides home, and I would turn them down if another adult wasn’t present in the car.
As a result, the incidence of abuse allegations was reduced to a trickle in the past decade. (The same can’t be said of another critical institution to American culture, our public schools.)
In fact, most of the reported abuse among Catholic clergy occurred between the mid 60s and the mid 80s. The abuse was studied and documented in a comprehensive study: “John Jay Study on Sexual Abuse: A Critical Analysis.”
The media, which I think did pretty fair job on reporting the scandal in 2002, threw all objectivity aside in their reporting beginning in 2011. As a result, many people were left with factually incorrect conclusions in the aftermath of the entire affair.
Here are some quick clarifications revealed by the John Jay Study.
Media Spin: The abuse scandal was due to the Church’s imposition of celibacy on the priesthood.
False. Celibacy has been around since the 11th century. The rise in abuse corresponded with the cultural rise in promiscuity in the mid sixties in the U.S.
Media Spin: Pedophile priests were the root problem.
False. Less than five percent of the abuse could be defined as pedophilia.
Media Spin: The bishops responded incorrectly.
True. It appears there were two reasons why their response, in hindsight, was damaging. First, they were presented with the wrong problem. They were being told the root problem was pedophilia. We now know that, although it existed, it wasn’t the dominant issue. More on the dominant issue in a minute. Secondly, clinical psychologists of that era suggested that pedophilia could be treated and cured through psychotherapy. Bishops sent priests for treatment in the belief that they would return cured.
The John Jay Study explains:
(prior to 1984) “the common assumption of those who the bishops consulted was that clergy sexual misbehavior was both psychologically curable and could be spiritually remedied by recourse to prayer.”
(After 1885) “prompt psychological treatment for the priest was seen as the best course of action and became the primary intervention.”
Tragically, psychiatry was unable to cure too many of these men, many of whom were subsequently reassigned after their “cure,” only to prey on more victims.
Media Spin: The problem was primarily with heterosexual priests.
False. This gets politically incorrect in this era of liberal devotion to homosexuality. Between 1952 and 2002, 81% of the victims were male, and 78% were post pubescent.
In other words, the scandal was not largely based on pedophilia. Rather, it was dominated by homosexual abuse targeting adolescent boys.
The caustic writer I quoted at the outset says that I personally should be ashamed by abuse inflicted by members of the Catholic clergy on their flock.
You know what? I am.
Every Catholic is.
By the same token, I come from a family with a long line of school teachers. I am ashamed by every single incidence of abuse heaped on our kids in public schools by predator teachers.
I only wish our schools would respond as vigorously as the Catholic Church.
I wish the media would connect the dots on abuse in our schools with the same intensity as they did in their reporting on the Church.
I wish they’d report on Planned Parenthood’s cover up of statutory rape with the same intensity as they did in their reporting on the Church.
They don’t because of the intensity of anti-Catholicism in the mainstream media.
I truly understand the anger non-Catholics (and even Catholics) feel toward the Church. My heart bleeds for the victims and their families.
In fairness, Pope Benedict personally met with victims throughout the world and tackled the scandal head on.
He deserves credit for his handling of the crisis.