The ugly specter of anti-Catholicism

By Tom Quiner

Pope Benedict XVI met and prayed with abuse victims throughout the world.

Pope Benedict XVI met and prayed with abuse victims throughout the world.

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.



  1. Lisa Bourne on February 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm

    The incidence of Catholic priests accused of abuse is roughly 4%, less than that of the general public and significantly less than that of public school teachers. The abuse scandal in the Church was dominated by homosexuality as you say, though it seems even the Church is afraid to say so. The term pedophelia is incorrect in referring to the situation, it was actually ephebophilia. Abuse of a child in any fashion is heinous, sexual abuse another step further in that direction, and the abuse of power to do so on the part of clergy abominable. The U.S. Church dropped the ball in its initial handling of the scandal to be sure, and I’m not so sure steps taken since have been of utmost effectiveness. Yet the whole thing has been misrepresented by the media, providing fodder for every person with an anti-Catholic chip on their shoulder. This misplaced dogpile serves no one and nothing, certainly not the victims. The only thing it accomplishes is feeding hate for the Church. Pope Benedict addressed the situation in front of him. The anti-Catholic contingent will never be happy, because what they desire, the demise of the Church, will not occur. Any fault to be found with the Church is possible only at the hands of humans. God’s children are never perfect, his Church on the other hand, has and always will prevail. God bless the Holy Father, now and in his retirement.

    • quinersdiner on February 11, 2013 at 10:42 pm

      Good follow up comments, Lisa. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

    • Bob Vance on February 12, 2013 at 8:23 am

      Abuse is abuse. To say “at least our abuse is 4% lower” to justify it seems odd to me.

      Also, to somehow write it off as “they’re just anti-Catholic” seems to minimalize what those children went through.

      • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 8:56 am

        How in the world did you make that leap, Bob? Perhaps you didn’t read far enough “when I said: My heart bleeds for the victims and their families.” Perhaps you didn’t read the part where I acknowledge the shame of the Church, and the shame I feel that this happened in my Church. There is no justification anywhere in this piece, Bob, unless someone wants to concoct it out of their own animus toward the Catholic Church.

      • Lisa Bourne on February 12, 2013 at 10:38 am

        Abuse IS abuse. And anti-Catholicism is anti-Catholicism. The fact is, as horrible as the abuse scandal was and as bad some of the handling of it has been, it has been blown way further up than the reality for the purpose of flogging the Catholic Church. Everyone who wants to dog-pile on simply takes up the mantra. Likewise, refusal to call it what is was is also used to bash the Church. I did not say “at least our abuse is 4% lower” and I in no way justified any abuse. Further, calling something what it is, anti-Catholic bias, is not an endeavor to minimalize what abuse victims have gone through. I in no way advocated for “writing off” any abuse. Attempting to put words in the mouth of another does not successfully advance a position. Using the plight of abuse victims to smear the Church is exploiting them. I can speak as someone for whom abuse has touched someone they love. If I were to go on a rampage implicating everyone who fit the profile of that particular abuser for the purpose of gaining revenge on that one person or to release anger, it would be regarded at the very least as illogical. And really, if the abuser is not part of a politically correct target group, it would be called discrimination or hate speech. Address ALL abuse everywhere as it should be addressed, because it’s the right thing to do. God bless you Bob.

        • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 10:53 am

          Very well expressed, Lisa. Thanks for the follow up comment.

  2. justturnright on February 11, 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Good post, sir.
    For more on the entire story, you may wish to pick up Michael Coren’s book ‘Why Catholics are Right’.

    And further, the plight of our school children and the teachers who continue to abuse them is a national disgrace. You’re 100% right: the press ignores it, because they don’t have the same animosity for teachers as they do for the Catholic Church.

    We did a couple of longish posts on this last year, and the mind-boggling numbers of our kids who are sexual abuse victims.
    Just another reason why my wife and I home school…

  3. abcinsc on February 12, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I wouldn’t want the Pope’s job. Start praying now for the man who succeeds him. God help him.

    • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

      I agree, and I shall.

  4. Bob Vance on February 12, 2013 at 8:08 am

    “…The rise in abuse corresponded with the cultural rise in promiscuity in the mid sixties in the U.S.”???

    I would question how you can come up with data to back this up. I could just as easily say that it was just never reported. Even if you believe the 60’s to be some form of catalyst, I could just as easily argue that prior to the 60’s where people started questioning authority, people would be more likely to cover it up to avoid the scandal brought down on not just the Priest but the family itself. You wouldn’t want your son to have to go through the humiliation of growing up as that kid that was raped by his priest.

    As for the sex scandal, it will be forever part of his legacy.

    • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 8:19 am

      That is exactly what the John Jay Study did. Their data reveals most of the abuse took place between the mid sixties to the mid 80s. Almost none of the abuse occurred during Pope Benedict’s pontificate. He, in fact, addressed it head on. You can say it will forever be a part of his legacy, but only in the sense that he was God’s instrument in helping to advance the process of healing and restoration.

      • Bob Vance on February 12, 2013 at 9:00 am

        I agree with you that the current Pope has dealt with the actual problem of abuse. I believe the scandal was due to lack of disclosure to the general public about the abuses, which gave it the properties of a cover-up.

        • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 9:46 am


          • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 10:02 am

            Bob, I don’t fully understand where the depth of the hatred toward the Church comes from. But, the folks who feel it are more than happy to share it.

      • Bob Vance on February 12, 2013 at 9:19 am

        Tom, do you honestly believe no abuse ever occured prior to the mid-60’s? Or perhaps it was not reported or if it was, never recorded.

        • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 10:00 am

          No, nor did I ever say that. In fact, the John Jay Study looked at the data beginning in 1952. They DID take that era into account. As I said before, Bob, the data that flowed from this study revealed the overwhelming incidence of the abuse occurred in a twenty year span from the mid 60s to the mid 80s.

  5. juwannadoright on February 12, 2013 at 8:10 am

    Thank you, Tom for putting this in rational perspective. I hope that your commentator will take the time to read your response and consider it with an open mind.

  6. Bob Vance on February 12, 2013 at 9:13 am

    I have seemed to reach my limit on “Reply”s.

    “Perhaps you didn’t read far enough …” My comment was a reply to the comments.

    What purpose is there to point to public schools? I have no doubt abuse happens in public schools, and I agree it is unacceptable there also. To bring it up here and now seems to me to be an attempt to deflect blame away from churches. There is plenty of blame to go around.

    • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 9:55 am

      What purpose is there to pointing to public schools? It is this:

      A fellow blogger (Two Heads Are Better Than One: points out that President Bush required a study of sexual abuse in the schools as part of the No Child Left Behind legislation. Consequently, Hofstra University researcher Charol Shakeshaft looked into the problem, and the first thing that came to her mind when Education Week reported on the study were the daily headlines about the Catholic Church.

      “[T]hink the Catholic Church has a problem?” she said. “The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

      It is fair to ask, Bob, that if the schools have a problem this large, why doesn’t the media give it the same scrutiny as the Church? I read stories about the latest teacher caught fooling around with our kids, but why no media push to connect the dots and expose the horror taking place in our schools? I maintain it is pure bias. What else could it be?

      • Bob Vance on February 12, 2013 at 11:40 am

        I agree there is bias. All of the cases I have seen in recent years involve a female teacher with teenage students. Part of society still sees this as no big deal. If a male teacher would have been involved with a female (or even male) student, I think you would see a whole different attitude.

        Another reason I think is that the church is a symbol of morality, so the public holds them to a higher standard. Compare Bill Clinton to Jimmy Swaggert. Not that many were suprised by Bill Clinton, where as the public expected a much higher standard from Jimmy Swaggert. Plus, critics found him an easy target because he preached one thing but practiced another behind closed doors.

  7. Bob Zimmerman on February 12, 2013 at 9:51 am

    It seems that ignorance and animosity often scream louder than rationality and reason. Invariably, attacks on Christianity, and in particular against the Catholic Church often quickly escalate to name-calling, ridiculous generalizations and downright vitriol in place of level-headed discussion.

    • Bob Vance on February 12, 2013 at 2:17 pm

      I am confused as to your reference to “name-calling, ridiculous generalizations and downright vitriol in place of level-headed discussion”. Are you referring to something in this article? A comment found here?

      I admit I only know a couple of Muslims, but not once I have ever heard them attack Christians.

      George H. Bush, while Vice President of the United States, made the comment that “atheists should not be regarded as citizens, nor should they be regarded as patriotic, because this country is “One nation under God.” ” Noone seemed to see his remarks as an attack.

      “Under God” was added back in the 1950’s, btw, and it could be argued the Founding Fathers would not have approved. The majority of people in the U.S. see atheists as untrustworthy and immoral, yet no one seems to be able to say why, or acknowledge even knowing an atheist.

      From what I have experienced in my long life time, nobody attacks Chrisitianity like a fellow Christian.

      How do you specifically see this as an attack on Christianity?

      • quinersdiner on February 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm

        I don’t think anyone is referring to anything you said, Bob. I may not agree with you all the time, but you seem to approach each subject reasonably. However, the the level of anti Catholicism bias and vitriol in the media and the blogosphere is profound, and that is what I think an earlier comment referred to.

  8. SgtZim on February 13, 2013 at 8:00 am

    One section could use a little clarification Tom. Under: Media Spin: The problem was primarily with heterosexual priests. How does the study define pedophelia? I’m inclined to think that any abuse of someone under the age of consent and often even older than that would constitute pedophelia or statutory rape and just as heinous as any of the other children who were abused by authority figures. It’s kind of picking a nit because the rest of your discussion certainly acknowledges the seriousness of the issue, and I completely agree that the “media” has generally become a liberal / progressive echo chamber that loves to persecute Christians in general as well as Catholics in particular.

    • quinersdiner on February 13, 2013 at 10:10 am

      No doubt the damage would be devastating to any teenager who is molested, especially I would guess to a teenage heterosexual boy being violated by a man. Your point is well-taken.