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Scott P. Richert

Clergy Sexual Abuse: Separating Fact, Fiction, and Anti-Catholic Bias

By March 23, 2010

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Over the past few weeks, I have had several readers ask about the recent allegations of clerical sexual abuse in Europe, particularly in Ireland (where the revelations began in 2006) and in Germany.

Until now, I've held off on writing anything, because it's hard to separate fact from fiction, let alone account for anti-Catholic bias. Much of the reporting is mixed with commentary, and it's all rather sensationalistic. Otherwise respectable news outlets, such as Slate.com, have given professional anti-Catholics such as Christopher Hitchens carte blanche to write pieces that viciously attack Pope Benedict XVI by making connections that really aren't justified by the facts as we know them.

None of this is to suggest that the vast majority of allegations aren't truthful. But the conclusions that are routinely drawn from revelations of sexual abuses are often wrong (e.g., celibacy is the problem, or sexual-abuse rates are higher among the Catholic clergy than, say, rabbis or public-school teachers) or deliberately provocative (e.g., Pope Benedict's brother admits to slapping boys when he was a choir director, therefore it's certain that he knew that a previous choir director had sexually abused some boys, and thus obviously Pope Benedict engaged in a cover-up to protect his brother).

In every country where widespread allegations of clerical sexual abuse have emerged, it's clear that the Catholic hierarchy has handled the situation very poorly. The new regulations for the reporting and handling of allegations put into place here in the United States several years ago were designed to put an end to such mismanagement, and the consistent drop in sexual-abuse allegations since 2004 indicates that those regulations are working. The U.S. regulations have become a model for other countries, including Ireland.

One thing that is often forgotten is that not every allegation is true, and a priest, like anyone else who is falsely accused, deserves the opportunity to defend himself. Indeed, canon law, as much as civil law, gives him that right. But some who have other axes to grind against the Catholic Church (such as the aforementioned Christopher Hitchens) insist that every accused priest is guilty until proved innocent.

In my day job as executive editor of Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture, I wrote many thousands of words about the clerical sex scandals here in the United States several years back, and so I know from painful journalistic work how hard it is to separate fact, fiction, and anti-Catholic bias. Over the coming weeks, I'll apply that experience to discussions of the current allegations, as well as to some of the commentary being offered here and overseas.

March 23, 2010 at 12:04 pm
(1) SteveBNH says:

With all due respect, the catholic church has EARNED much of this supposed “anti-catholic bias.” The church is as judgmental an organization as they come. They cross the line from ministering to their parishioners to weighing in on legislation. They have proven to be arrogant, corrupt, engaged in cover-ups and have behaved much like a criminal organization. I think far too much weight is given to religious leaders. I do not believe George W. Bush should have granted diplomatic immunity to Pope Benedict in the sex abuse cover up trial in Houston. HIs culpability in that crime occurred before he was a “head of state.” And frankly, the idea that the Catholic Church should be afforded diplomatic status is absurd on its face. Religious leaders are leaders of people who believe their particular story. Most of these stories contradict each other out. Therefore, most religious leaders are simply wrong. (I could argue that all are, but I won’t.) And yet we give them diplomatic status? for holding a set of beliefs? It is high time for some rationality and some accountability.

August 3, 2011 at 1:53 pm
(2) Onyibe chinedu isaiah says:

I don’t agree with u that catholic is like a criminal organization, though some priest are not the best but many are good and God fearing

March 23, 2010 at 12:48 pm
(3) Frank Eastwood says:

Priests raped and abused children over a long period. Church didn’t help the children. Priests and Bishops failed to look after the kids. These are the facts, deal with it mate.

August 8, 2011 at 9:06 pm
(4) Edward Mansfield says:

The Roman Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ. These are the facts, deal with it mate. Let he who is without sins cast the first stone.

March 23, 2010 at 1:33 pm
(5) Tom Piatak says:

I look forward to this series. Your pieces in Chronicles on the topic were excellent.

March 23, 2010 at 1:36 pm
(6) Wes Bennett says:

I live in an overwhelmingly protestant area of the “Bible belt”. Over the last six years there have been a total of…zero..allegations against Catholic priests. During that same period there have been a dozen allegations against protestant ministers, youth ministers, music directors etc….Including one who beat his wife to death with a piece of firewood… Where were you “finger pointers”?

The Church..the Catholic Church..will survive these trials and tribulations as it has every other for two thousand years. Because Jesus Christ SAID it would.

March 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm
(7) tom says:

im sorry i disagree i feel that most of these cases are false there usually never backed up with the same kind of evidence that would be needed to convict in criminal courts it seems all you have to do is point a finger and get paid….i for 1 would like to know how many of these cases were backed up with evidence dna etc…i think that either these are people who are trying to take down the church…make easy money..or became priests just for that reason….i love my church and will always defend it…

March 23, 2010 at 1:40 pm
(8) Dan F. says:

enter the trolls….

just to save Scott the time and effort:

1. The Pope is a head of state – the Vatican is it’s own little landlocked country in the middle of Rome.

2. Legislation affects all sorts of organizations who therefore weigh in on them – is it crossing the line for the ACLU to weigh in on free speech legislation rather than just litigating? All legislation has a moral component – those who claim to champion whatever kind of morality SHOULD weigh in on legislation pertaining to their beliefs or adherents.

3. Every anti-catholic commentator seems to want to make claims about what “they” (i.e. ?) do/don’t do without making specific claims. Because an institution, such as the church, is made up of individuals, and individuals have free will, accusations have to be specific to INDIVIDUAL actions. You can’t argue (logically) from specifics to general principles, nor can you accuse INDIVIDUALS of crimes and thereby indict 1 Billion people (current rough estimate of Catholics in the world who make up the church).

4. As far as I know, only the Dalai Lama and the Pope have dipolmatic status as a result of their religious leadership (rather than some other position).

5. Some priests abused children. Other priests and bishops covered it up. Other bishops followed the best psychological understanding of the time (70s and 80s) that treatment and rehabilitation was possible for sex offenders and attempted that route.

6. since everything started coming to light in the last several years the Church (at least in the US – I’m not familiar with the policies elsewhere) has instituted extensive policies to prevent cover up (as Scott mentioned above).

7. The incidences of sexual abuse in the Church were roughly comparable to rates of sexual abuse in any other ‘leadership of children’ type group (i.e. rabbi’s, teachers, etc.).

March 23, 2010 at 1:48 pm
(9) flagon says:

I have compared statistics of Catholic Clergy to that of Lutheran Clergy in matters of sexual abuse. To put it mildly, the Lutherans lose that one by a mile. Sad to say, the Baptist clergy are comparable to the Lutherans.

March 25, 2011 at 10:23 pm
(10) cb says:

all well and good, but where did you get your statistics? back up your statement, please.

March 23, 2010 at 2:12 pm
(11) Tom2 says:

Seems we actually have some Hitchens want-to-be’s responding to this article. Yes men/people are weak and will sin. All of us even Priest, Minister’s, Rabbi, Politicians and Teachers, within and outside the Church. That doesn’t excuse this. The Church has not handled it right and should have reported, defrocked and disciplined those who are guilty. But, I believe a lot of this mishandling comes, not from corruption and more sinister motives, but from a lack of understanding the true nature of this behavior in Society at large and the propensity for clergy to forgive and to offer a means toward reconciliation and recovery. I my opinion, the truth is that those driven to sexual child abuse whether within the church or in Society in general cannot be cured and should not be forgiven by man, but punished and isolated by man and left up to God to forgive. The Church is coming to that conclusion and way to slowly, but even Civil Judges give Child abusers way to much “understanding”, second chances and lenient sentences.

How should the regular Catholic’s respond … reject the Church?… Reject God?.. Give up our Faith and become cynical haters as Hitchens and the other responders to this article. I think not.. for me the Church is imperfect due to Man imperfection but maybe this current controversy within the Church is God’s way of correcting it and protecting it from the “Gates of Hell”

March 23, 2010 at 2:21 pm
(12) Cindy says:

Abuse by priests can come in many forms. Emotional abuse is just as bad as physical abuse. It may be worse because they play with a person’s mind and there are no obvious physical signs. It is swept under the rug and the priests remain to continue to abuse further.

March 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm
(13) SteveBNH says:

@Dan F.

Yes, I know the Vatican is technically a country. I think granting it diplomatic status is absurd nonetheless.

I find it appalling that the Catholic Church weighs in on issues like the health care bill. Yes, other group weigh in too. I think it is a bad idea for faith groups to be holding sway in legislative affairs. At least one member of congress said he checked with his priest before casting his vote on health care reform. I just think for a body that has so many skeletons in its closet, it should really focus on cleaning up its own act rather than trying to deny Americans access to healthcare.

If indeed the church is committed to preventing cover-ups, why get diplomatic immunity? why not go to the court and testify? Saying “Oh, wait…no….I don’t have to testify, I am a head of state,” is hardly a staunch commitment to curbing coverups or to any sense of openness.

I dont think anyone is indicting each of the one billion catholics. I was expressly voicing my discontent with the leadership of the Catholic Church – namely, the Pope. He was in a position of power from which he could have done a great deal to help stem the tide of the Catholic Church’s pedophilic priest problem, but he didn’t. He brushed it under the rug. And he isn’t held to account. That to me is a problem. If a teacher in a school were to molest a child, and the principal covered it up. And the superintendent helped them cover it up…I would fully expect there to be criminal and/or civil repercussions for that. But no, not in this case. He is a head of state.

Please for your own credibility – do not try to assert that the church dealt with these accusations the way they did because they were following the best psychological advice at the time. They didn’t notify the police. They continued to put children at risk. They shuffled priests around from parish to parish with little concern for anything more than the church’s reputation.

October 18, 2011 at 1:29 am
(14) Teddy says:

I just got around to reading this now.
You say that at least one member of
congress checked with his priest before his vote on health care.
Name this member of congress or is this just hearsay.
If you accuse, back it up, lets see the evidence.

March 23, 2010 at 2:27 pm
(15) Rosalee Adams says:

I believe that it ALL should have been turned over to
the police to investigate. It is a criminal matter, not a
clerical matter. If I were the mother of one of these violated children, the minute I heard from my child that a priest had violated him/her I would have gone to the police NOT the church.
It looks bad. It is bad because they have done nothing to
make it look better. To apologize is not enough if you are still holding onto the sin and in this case, the sin of doing nothing. Christ was very vocal when it comes to violating a child and I believe in this case, violation is clear.
Those who have taken the innocence from these children, should be in prison, not transferred to another parish or put in some safe position. They also should be defrocked. They have not only violated the child, but have violated their calling and therefore are unfit to wear a collar.

March 23, 2010 at 3:15 pm
(16) Paul Dale says:

It is the forthright condemnations of the Church and Papacy from some on this thread that makes one understand how pogroms and holocausts happen. The sins committed by some of the clergy are heinous, and God alone will cast his judgement. We cannot trust on the impartiality of man and Satan. But our Holy Father is as outraged and disgusted as all of us, nay, more so, as the Vicar of Christ. The secular media, abetted by their cohort of devils, attack the Church and the Holy Father, because they fear God. When the Church is being spat upon and lambasted, then know that She is not of this world; and rejoice. For truth will always provoke Her enemies. Let us defend the Holy Father, pray for the Church; that She may drive these devils, both inside and outside the Church, from further attacks on the Body of Christ. St. Michael the Archangel, Pray for us. St. Joseph protect our Holy Father.

March 23, 2010 at 3:29 pm
(17) JohnB says:

Now there is a part of the problem – deluded and deceived.

March 23, 2010 at 4:14 pm
(18) Mark C. says:

Allegedly, the stats are the same across all denominational boards regarding the number of abusers. My only issue is the attempted cover-ups and transfers. When the Vicar of Christ previously penned a statement telling others to keep it under wraps, it really says something about the Catholic Church as a whole. Priests should be fired, not transferred. For the past several years I have contemplated converting to Catholicism; this gives me additional hesitation. But if the RCC is indeed the church that Christ founded, you really have no choice but to come to the fullness of Truth.

September 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm
(19) Linda Fowler says:

Do not let the rotten apples ruin the entire orchard. The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church is the only true Church. Jesus said scandals would come but woe to those who bring them. All of us (except Jesus and His Blessed Mother) are sinners.Christ will deal with them and I do believe their Bishops should not cover up or sugar coat it. Pedophiles are in all aspects of society. The Church is no exception. Protestants, Jews and all faiths have the same problems – that of sin. Do not hesitate to join the True Church because some are bad apples. I am a convert and I knew plenty of Catholics ( in name only) who were adulterers, thiefs, gossipers, disobediant etc. But truth is truth. We live in a fallen world and the best thing you can do is to follow Jesus and His Church and pray for those who are not faithful. Stay close to the sacraments and be sure to find time for Eucharistic adoration and the daily Rosary. Be part of the solution Mark C. If you haven’t read some good apologetics I recommend anything by Scott Hahn, Patrick Madrid, Tim Staples, CS Lewis and GK Chesterson. I will pray for you to find your way home.

March 23, 2010 at 4:49 pm
(20) Tom Holloran says:

The truth will set you free. I am a life long Catholic, aged 62 and an active member of my parish Church. But, these so called Bishops who protected pedophile priests for decades at the expense of innocent children should be run out of the Church on a rail. – “Better a millstone be tied about ones neck and he be cast into the sea than to lead one of these innocents astray.” What is it that these sorry excuses for Bishops failed to understand here? – Tom Holloran, OLL Church, Queens Village, NY.

March 23, 2010 at 5:06 pm
(21) Char says:

(9) Cyndy ~ Yes, priests, bishops do give other forms of abuse and nothing gets done. These men have to much power, little compassion and are money hungry for there own agenda. This has been my experience. there is nothing we can do but pray for healing for ourselves and those inflicting the pain and healing for the church as a whole. Its one of the hardest prayers I’ve had to make.
(11) Rosalee ~ I agree! Turn this over to the police, no one but the courts has the right to investigate and do what the law states!
I have said this before and will say it again… The Catechism states that a grave sin would excommunicate a person from the church. If this is not a grave sin (sexual abuse), then there are none and no one should ever be excommunicated.
Some priests may get a bad wrap and are innocent this would not have happened had those that did the abusing were dealt with in the proper manner and that would be to remove them from there role completely. Now the Church has opened itself up to all kinds of accusations and issues that they could have prevented. This includes the emotional abuse. Like any business you will find corruption, selfishness and abused power and unfortunatley that is how the Church is now portrayed.

March 23, 2010 at 6:45 pm
(22) Michael says:

Is the concept of “the buck stops here” still a viable one for all leaders?

It is true that people are jumping to conclusions here without having all the facts and that is definitely wrong. But, the head of an archdiocese should at least have been aware of the continuing problems created by a troubled priest who is a predator on lay Catholics, including where he was posted.

It is possible in this case that the Cardinal would not have known what was fully occurring with this priest, before he left. But, there should be more facts than the statement of one underling, to confirm this to be the case.

March 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm
(23) Lola says:

This thing about clerical abuse is not only from the catholics priests,.Where I live there had been casees of pastors that had been procecuted and found guilty for the same things and sometime worse.There was one that convinced the parents of children that he had to do those things because it was his divine duty to do so.
This parents were so stupid ,all this stopped when one of the girls refused to prossed with this and asked for help from the school councelor.
So this can happen any place and to any one we only have to educate us and our children about what is correct and stik to it.

March 24, 2010 at 3:48 am
(24) Ranjith says:

I am 60 years, and was in a catholic bording school in Sri Lanka, from the age of 8. This was in 1960′s and I still remember all what took place in our schools. We would dare not talk, of such happenings at that time….the clergy was not suppose to SIN….and our elders would never tolerate such accusations from us. The church should admit and address this issue, and do the best to correct the situation. Today we live in a different society…if today’s kids are abused they are not afraid to talk openly.
All this has not lessen my faith in Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church.
As for those who try to compare statistics with other organizations, and faiths, and justify or minimise the impact I may say…..let us the Catholics, set an example…..first by admitting our mistakes (Glad the Pope has finally admitted what has gone on for many decades) and then finding a solution. This scandle will never perish the “Catholic Church that was built on the Rock” and will ride the storm…..until the end of times….

March 24, 2010 at 1:09 pm
(25) Planet Earth says:

I think many people don’t know the extent of the crimes and especially the coverup by high officials in the Vatican. I watched this 56 min film online and received quite an education: see for yourself… link and description below:

Holy Watergate: http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title/holy_watergate/

“Bearing witness to a dramatic unfolding of historic events, the filmmaker spends over four years gathering stories from all sides of the clergy sex abuse crisis. Resisting simplistic or sensational explanations, Holy Water-Gate instead bravely investigates disturbing and unanswered questions of this tragedy, providing razor sharp insight into the causation and consequences of the sex abuse in the Catholic Church. WINNER: CINE GOLDEN EAGLE for INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM; WINNER: BEST DOCUMENTARY 2005 Rhode Island International Film Festival.”

March 24, 2010 at 1:29 pm
(26) Mary says:

This beloved Church of mine will never escape blame, condemnations, accusations, true or false until the end of time. Jesus came intot he world, did good and we crucified Him. BUT as He said, the Powers of Hell, either from within or from without SHALL NEVER PREVAIL UPON IT. It shall stand firm until He comes back.

I often wonder, how come child abuses in other spheres of life do not attract such vitroil attacks? fathers who abuse their daughters worldwide, teachers who abuse their pupils, Pastors in other Denominations who abuse their flock. Steal their flock’s wives? etc.

Why is it that it is ony the Catholic Church which makes the whole world media go catatonic to the point of turning homicidal? Let someone sober, please, answer me that question.

Jesus never said His Church would be composed of pure Saints. Oh, no!! Even among his little flock of 12 Apostles, there was a betrayer. How many more betrayers, perverts, Satan advocates and sinners does His Church carry, when we are more than 1.7 billion including our Unite Churches?

Let us, instead of always condeming, pray for the sinners. Always remember you never had a written Agreement with God that you would not turn out to be a pervert like the ones you are condeming. It has His Love and mercy that you are normal and it is not your right to be so.

March 24, 2010 at 6:15 pm
(27) louis nwagbo says:

apostle Paul denied JESUS, Judas betrayed GOD. But that did not condenm the apostles or Christians. These allegations against the prists, are allegations against our fellow normal human beings who celibacy handed the satan a very powerful tool against. Only the foolish will use that as a weapon to attack the catholics. May JESUS be glorified, Amen.

March 25, 2010 at 6:07 pm
(28) K.C.Thomas says:

I entirely agree with Scott that the subject is fully entangled in fact-fiction and anti-catholic bias
No catholic is afraid of admitting mistakes or sins. But insincere attitude, a determination to somehow accuse the priest or the Church, and an eternal hatred towards everything catholic or christian are the greatest contributors of news items. Even in this 21 st century, a slap on a student by a teacher or on the child by a parent is not considered as wrong or sinful by majority of the world population Let us not think that all rules of the developed countries of Europe or America are right. Every rule has advantages and disadvantages.

Apart from sin , the sexual offences are criminal offnces punishable under civil administration. Let the offenders be punished, if proved guilty. None will object. As a parent has forgiven a wrong committed by a son and advised not to recur, a bishop might have taken a fatherly view on a priest in the faith that he would abandon his wrong ways. So a detailed analysis is necessary to find the truth and to air views

March 26, 2010 at 2:27 pm
(29) sis.ana says:

i am a simple Catholic, as the Lord Jesus Christ said LOVE your enemies, as simple as that… and i believe Catholic persecutors will never stop until the end so as what they did to our Lord Jesus Christ 2010 years ago.
only to Saint Peter our Lord Jesus gives the authority to take care the CHURCH.amen…
i love you all with the Love of the Lord, im from a third world country but still thank God! im Happy and Properous, staying beautiful as one proud Catholic.

March 26, 2010 at 2:56 pm
(30) J. Brown says:

There are a lot of true stories than can be corroborated by others of the boys at a Philadelphia orphanage. Rectal bleeding had become a problem with the dormitory with the youngest boys. Anal penetration was condoned by the homosexual staff. Boys masturbating others was tolerated by those homosexuals in charge. One particular school teacher, had a number of boys he would perform oral sex on. I, personally was molested almost weekly over a period of three and a half years. Although the Grand Jury in Philadelphia said they would be calling those with law suits to testify, I was never called.
The lesson of the church is if you can keep your bad behavior out of the public long enough, it is as if it never happened.
I tried to bring charges against the Philadelphia police who investigated my complaint. I was not permitted to. The police had changed the complaint as if it was an isolated incident, rather than a three plus year event.
And finally, excommunication. I was excommunicated from the Catholic Church because I would not give up the last names of young boys having sex. When, during confession, Father Miller asked “What were the names…”. I made up two first names and offered them to him. “What are their last names?” I told him I did not know. The next time I went to confession, my only sin was “French” kissing a girl. One time. I was surprised when Father Miller began speaking a lot of Latin. I remained excommunicated for about six weeks. Anyway, this happened a long time ago, but there are still many witnesses alive. The events described above happened 1960 to May of 1964.
Oh, Father Charles Miller never made the list of priests you don’t want babysitting your children when you go out.

April 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm
(31) Genaro says:

As Catholics, we believe in JESUS CHRIST, PERFECT GOD MADE MAN, who suffered, died and forgave all of us – SINNERS. I know that there are clergy who are sinners as there are Popes who are probably not in heaven.
However, this does not mean that our Faith and our Church is flawed. Rather, it is those of us who remain true and unquestioning in our Faith who elevate the Catholic Church. Our church is a community united in the love of JESUS and of each other – “warts and all” – as we are all brothers-and-sisters in CHRIST. Let us certainly highlight wrongdoings; BUT LET US NOT CONDEMN…FOR JESUS DID NOT CONDEMN US. Peace and Love to all of you, my brethren

April 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm
(32) Sabrina says:

In this era of rabid right wing activities such as the reincarnation of the Know Nothing Party that’s commonly referred to as the Tea Partiers, the rise of anti-Catholic sentiment really isn’t a surprise to me, and I think it is only going to get worse. The famed historian Arthur Schlesinger Sr. once called Anti-Catholicism “the deepest-held bias in the history of the American people.” Most of the nation’s media has pretty much declared open season on Catholics and they’ve given a carte blanche to those who are hateful, ignorant and anti-Catholic to bash and insult people who are adherents. I think it’s a shame that some of theose people in their zeal to put down Catholics refuse to acknowledge that there are many good priests in the Church. Those who remain true to their vows of celibacy/chastity…and there are many Catholics who have made a difference in the world! The Church in many case has been in the forefront of change: we’ve fed the hungry, clothed the naked, gave comfort to the grieving and suffering. The Church for many is still a place for hope and solace…and always will be. It’s grossly unfair that some of these news organizations are attempting to make it sound as if each and every single one of the at least 1 Billion Catholic worldwide are bad, and as if the only people out there abusing children are Catholics. That is absolutely untrue! Child sexual abuse happens in many places. What about public schoolteachers who are going after students? How come on one is saying all teachers are bad…and kids shouldn’t go to school? How about doctors who abuse patients…why is no one going after them the way they are going after Catholics? According to the American Medical Association, a child is more in danger of being molested by a PARENT or a caregiver! Yet no one is calling for the banning of forming family units, are they? Yet, these people think we Catholics should give up our faith simply because of a few bad individuals. If anything, this is the time for Catholics everywhere to stand strong more than every before…and let people know that those people are NOT the Church! WE ARE THE CHURCH…and it’s not about blind obedience to the Pope,but rather a clear eyed view of Jesus, the Mass, the Eucharist and the rest of the Sacraments and everything we profess when we recite the Apostle’s Creed. This church has thrived for 2 Millenia and Lord willing it will be here for people for 2 Millenia more…regardless of the haters who would love to see us close our doors forever!

April 4, 2010 at 8:29 pm
(33) TK says:

God Bless you Sabrina. Perhaps our next mission as the Church Militant is to continue to help protect children at risk from all forms of harm; and to do what we can to help heal the pains of the past.

April 6, 2010 at 11:41 am
(34) Guy Harvey says:

Sabrina, the “we are no worse than the rest of society” argument is a poor one. Your church has a problem. You know about it. The rest of the world is starting to know about. The pressure ease when the church offers full disclosure. Holds accountable those who have abused and those who those who have covered up and when the church in every country introduces systems and policies to prevent abuse in the future.

Instead of saying we are no worse than doctors or school teachers why set an example and show why you are better.
If the percentage of abusers is the same as other professions I would estimate that some of professions have a much more advanced system of dealing with abuse allegations than has been there in the Catholic Church.

The attacks will stop when you show you care more about the children than yourselves.

April 7, 2010 at 2:47 pm
(35) Sabrina says:

Guy Harvey, No…the argument is valid. To make it sound as if Catholics and ONLY Catholics are bad is basically showing a prejudice against people based on their religion. To support your Church does NOT mean supporting the bad priests. Of course, they need to be kicked out and prosecuted. However, the answer is not leaving the Church…or giving up our Faith. People, both laity and clergy are working to effect change…but the media chooses to ignore this, and focuses ONLY on those who use the scandal to air their own personal grievances at the expense of those who have been abused. It’s become less about the victims and perpetrators, less about fixing problems and more about fixing BLAME! That serves no one.

April 9, 2010 at 1:18 pm
(36) SE Chiles says:

None of us is perfect – Remember “he who is without fault may case the first stone”. Those who have abused, especially abused children, should follow the same consequences whether they are clergy or not. Let us pray for all who have these difficulties as well as those who have nothing better to do than to point out the faults of others.

April 9, 2010 at 4:43 pm
(37) solibe says:

many Catholics are not suprised at what is happening, because this period was predicted by our blessed mother in some of her apparitions. If you claim to be abused, make sure its true because that money you are gunning for belongs to our lord JESUS CHRIST, not the catholics. Money is sweet, and can be a strong driving force, but can slam your head against a rock in no time. I just think that this is the chiotic ending of an ere, the era of ANTI catholisizm. Christians must unite, GOD knows how to do it. May GOD bless the holy father.

April 15, 2010 at 4:46 pm
(38) Jeff says:

It is most interesting to note, that in Eastern Europe, look especially at Central Europe, the Church lived under constant opposition from the State (Communist Party and followers) and that there, where sometimes the highest levels of Church hierarchy were infiltrated by Communist agents and where trumped up charges often had to be made against the clergy – no significant accusations of child sex abuse came forth. Imagine the scoop for the Party to be able to discredit the Church in such an easy way. Of course from that point of view, I am biased, besides our faith, the Catholic Church helped us in our struggles against the German Nazis and then the Soviets after Western liberals sold Central Europe out to Stalin. For a guy like me, who lived up in Stalinist society, where the Church was often our only friend, I will defend the Church because it’s done more than the leftist likes of ris Hitchens and Dawkins. Of course, this is all above the knowledge of God the Church imparted on the us.
I’ve never had the misfortune to run into a pedophile priest (I’ve known many- often as friends) although I have come across pedophile teachers (indirectly). I do think the Church did too little to remedy the problem but I think the majority of the blame should lie in ignorance of the problem and incompetence in dealing with paraphilias, which was all to common in all organisations just a few years prior. The Church was just late in dealing with this taboo problem. The problem is probably still hidden in many other organisations – secular and religious, but it’s not as fashionable to harp against them. Certain groups have an interest in discrediting the Church. Business as usual for some.

July 5, 2010 at 2:36 am
(39) Stanton says:

What are the statistics for being molested by any other specific group either religious or secular?

From what i read it is the same or higher than Priest abuse. Even still, i thing the celibacy should be voluntary but then no one is forced to become a priest and the conclusion that celibacy leads to child molestation is not supported by evidence. In fact, from what i can tell the opposite may prove to be more of a factor.

July 16, 2010 at 11:52 am
(40) Marie says:

To Mary – Thank you for you comments. Very insightful.

To those who would persecute Jesus if they had the chance. Read “Goodbye,Good Men” by Michael S. Rose.
Then we can have an intelligent conversation.

July 28, 2010 at 9:49 am
(41) Erasmus says:

Anyone who asserts that the catholic church as an organization was not grossly negligent and obstructionistic in dealing with the infestation child rape is either delusional or ignorant of the mountain of evidence. There is nothing “anti-catholic” about the fury being caused by the child abuse that has been covered up for years. It is preposterous to say there is an anti catholic bias in a nation where the vast majority of individuals are followers of Christ.

July 28, 2010 at 10:13 am
(42) Scott P. Richert says:

“Erasmus,” I’ve discussed the “mountain of evidence” at great length on this site and elsewhere for almost a decade now. It shows that individual priests—most born between 1925 and 1950, and overwhelmingly homosexual in orientation—committed heinous acts, and individual bishops—born in the same period and convinced by secular psychologists that pedophilia (really, in 85 percent of the cases, homosexual ephebophilia) was “curable”—made grave, and sometimes sinful, errors of judgment.

What it does not show is that the Catholic Church as a whole was “grossly negligent and obstructionistic.” And regarding the current, yes, anti-Catholic attacks, it does not show that Pope Benedict XVI was part of the problem. Indeed, any in-depth examination of the evidence shows that he was the highest-ranking clergyman pushing, from the early 1980′s, for a real solution to the problem. (If you don’t know what I mean, simply read the articles I’ve written on this site about the New York Times‘ attacks on Pope Benedict.)

As for this:

It is preposterous to say there is an anti catholic bias in a nation where the vast majority of individuals are followers of Christ.

You simply can’t be serious. Because the vast majority of Americans self-identify as Christians, there can be no anti-Catholic bias at, say, the New York Times? Even among those who do not self-identify as Christians? Let alone the fact that many self-identified Christians are avowedly anti-Catholic, believing that Catholics aren’t Christians.

August 5, 2010 at 4:36 pm
(43) Valdes says:

Scott: Thanks for finally addressing something of mass importance. The reason I want this to be a main discussion is not because I want the church to go down, but because I expect responsibility from all people. I’m not talking to you as a marginalized body, but as an individual. I believe that all individuals need to comport with self responsibility. I feel as though you addressed the issue, but did not really go into any evidence. For one you didn’t distinguish which statistics and data were separable from equivocated information. The truth is that the church has had a lack of responsibility to their community. One that should have an exemplary punishment. I’m not excusing the world either. Molestation or violations of any kind by any organization or individual should be punished. The reason there is a big deal with the church is because the church is supposed to be a beacon of example. It has failed to be since its origin. Your support should not be towards the pope or the church. These things are weightless. If you are truly devout to your faith, you should instead focus your thought towards justice and truth. Drop all the materialism and imagery . The beliefs you endorse are real. Love, compassion, forgiveness, truth, etc. can be found without support for any flesh or brick. Remember that you have dedicated your life to live on rock. Do not allow yourself to start building on sand.

August 5, 2010 at 4:42 pm
(44) Scott P. Richert says:

Thanks for finally addressing something of mass importance.

Valdes, please take a look at the date on this post: March 23, 2010. It was the first in a very long series of posts on the subject of clerical sexual abuse and the media coverage of it, many of which discuss particular cases and the data gathered by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in their exhaustive study released in 2004. You can find the rest by searching for “sexual abuse” on this GuideSite.

August 5, 2010 at 5:11 pm
(45) Valdes says:

Haha I missed that. My apologies. My words still stand. You should respond.

October 5, 2010 at 3:48 pm
(46) John Meyer says:

Frank Eastwood said ” Priests raped and abused children over a long period. Church didn’t help the children. Priests and Bishops failed to look after the kids. These are the facts, deal with it mate.’
Very interesting mate. Padophiles and terrible human beings whom we call criminals raped and abused children over a long period! Look at the percentages of all these terrible people in the world today (1-5% in our world population which does not exclude the church) and get upset with them! The church failed to help those who were victims for a long time but are doing most in their power to do so today. It is not sitting on its arse. It is prepared to face things now after apologising and trying to make things right. The church just happened to NOT FAIL many more millions of young people and infants in this world! It does more than you could possibly imagine. Oh its not in the paper well, open you mind and start looking beyong yout forehead, at the good the church has done, how many people have sacrificed their lives for the good of others under the wings of the church, and how many good priests have done extraordinary things that you do not know anything about. I am sorry if this offends you in its tone and wish you the best in truth!

December 4, 2010 at 1:53 pm
(47) Ton Leerschool says:

The person who would feel the least at home in the catholic church man have created is a simple carpenter’s son called Jesus.

December 29, 2010 at 2:05 am
(48) Terri L. Prince says:

The rights of children to be protected against all forms of abuse is really still practically non-existent, even in so-called democracies. Since time immemorial, children have suffered atrociously at the hands of abusive parents, caregivers, authority figures,etc, –particularly awful because these people are considered to be protectors. I personally believe that abuse of children —all forms is the worse crime of humanity. Priests, ministers, teachers, hockey coaches, whomever, who sexually abuse children are criminals!! They are also imposters, because they knew when they were chosing a career, a vocation, etc that they were going to be abusers. Celibacy is not to blame! Abuse is alive and well in familes.
It is a grave injustice to shove proven abuse under the carpet. We also have very ineffective laws to protect those who report abuse. I am against physical punishment of children–a practice that was considered for the good of the child, and still is with people quoting the old Testament to back up their actions! Yet, Joseph or Mary never struck Jesus when he left without telling his parents where he was going!! When you are struck, you feel less of a human being. Once this is outlawed across the world, we will start seeing improvements in our societies, less abuse of all sorts, less spousal abuse, less elder abuse. When we truly believe in the sanctity of childhood, and we practice what we preach, we will eradicate child abuse of all forms. It is time that the Roman Catholic Church and all other churches start speaking out regularly in the pulpit against all forms of child abuse.

April 8, 2011 at 8:37 am
(49) p says:

What planet do you live on? You speak of anti catholic bias but but you come across as being anti abuse victim. The catholic church is rotten to the core from the top to the bottom. I was abused myself and know of dozens of others just locally. Youre either in denial,delusional or just another one who is trying to cover it all up. I live in Ireland and it was a pandemic here and anyone who has similar ideas to you, as there are a few here are complete lunatics that take catholisim to a cult level. The facts are there ! Your beloved church and religion were involved from the pope down to your parish priest. What kind of religious organisation hides paedeophiles? Your beloved one. You have insulted me up to my eye balls with your article. I lost my faith a long time ago but I hope if there is God that he sends all of these animals to hell. Funny in a way if you think about it,hell full of popes,bishops and priests. How ironic !

October 18, 2011 at 1:32 am
(50) Teddy says:

I hope that God will help you with his mercy

May 18, 2011 at 9:59 am
(51) Baboo says:

Priests are humans like all of us. They may have taken the priestly vocation in good faith but somewhere down the line forgot their vows or succumbed to temptation. Accusing them will not take us any where. All we have to do as Catholics is to unceasingly pray for them. They need our prayers now more than ever! Lets remember that without them Mass can’t be celebrated, the Word of God will not be effectively and efficiently proclaimed, no one will administer the sacraments.

But sexual offenders should be dealt with accordingly. Laws dealing with this kind of a problem should be enacted. Their superiors should not cover up this problem but plough right through it to protect the image of the church.

When the priests who molest children do so they do so as individuals it’s not as if all Catholic priests are rotten. It’s not all church members who are bad. Catholic church is made up of lay people and the religious! It’s only a handful of its children which is really bad.

Celibacy is not a problem here otherwise we would not have so many divorces due to spousal infidelity, rapes and incest. The world at large is sick!

September 4, 2011 at 10:54 am
(52) Joe Mott says:

God did not prevent the evil one to come plant weeds among the wheat. He even stopped the workers from pulling up the weeds. He said He would do that at harvest. The Catholic Church is overrun with weeds. I am confident that all will be dealt with at the proper time. God is in control. If He so desired, He could put a stop to all these distractions by the clergy and members.

My daily task is to do what I am called to do and leave the rest to Him. Many will say, ‘Lord, Lord…’ A fraction of a percentage of priests bring dishonor to the Body of Christ. How many of the congregation do the same?

While pointing a finger ‘over there,’ three fingers are pointing back at us. Let him without sin, cast the first stone.

January 18, 2012 at 10:04 pm
(53) Alvin Newton says:

they may not have done anything then but now they are

February 17, 2012 at 9:54 pm
(54) Millie says:

hello frank- first of all NO church is perfect,what i mean by that is that the Church alone is prfect but the people in it are NOT perfect so therefore in anyreligion and in any church, you have people who sin-even in protestant churches! people just tend to point out the bad in the caholic church because they are prejudiced and also must i mention, they do not know the truth because the Catholic Church is the ONLY Church established by Christ, and is the oldest Christian faith on earth. no other church can claim that, all protestant faiths were established by a MAN, not Christ. so if you deny the Church established by Christ himself (The Catholic Church) then you are therefore rejecting Christ. but God gave us free will and that is why we have so many different and false religions. I am also a former protestant convert to the Catholic faith.

February 22, 2012 at 5:24 am
(55) Nkechi Ehima says:

My heart bleeds for child victims of sexual abuse especially by those with whom they should have felt safe.We should be compassionate and pray for them and also for religious leaders wrongfully accused of such evil. We may be unable to fully understand their pain but at least, we can pray for their healing.
It is heartwarming that the veil of secrecy has been lifted in our time so that repentance and cleansing can truly begin.
My advice for victims is that you pray for, and work at forgiveness. That will be the ultimate victory of good over evil. Your innocence was stolen and trust betrayed. Now, wipe your tears and refuse to be robbed of your present and future peace and joy. Reject the worst; for your soul to be lost. After you have done all you can to obtain justice, please move on; live your life.
May God help us all, through Jesus Christ our Lord, to live joyfully in the present, with our future secure in Him, as the past is past.

February 28, 2012 at 10:50 am
(56) abedneg osindi says:

as much we could blame it on anti_ catholics, the church should take sturn actions against this perpetrators becsuse we cant deny that it is not happening! It is there icluding sex with women and ladies yet they vow to be celibate. I am a strong catholic and sometimes fee. Humiliated when confronted by the so called anti catholics. will always support the catholic church

March 18, 2012 at 8:24 pm
(57) Lawrence Pirkl says:

Sabrina, well said!
I was baptized Catholic and had my first communion in the 1940s. I was never confirmed because my mother remarried and pulled me out of the church. My mom then had me go to Protestant churches, which was OK because there was a lot of Bible study. I have fond memories of the Catholic church I went to as a child. I still hold to many traditions of the church. When I went there the Mass was all in Latin which is a beautiful language.
I’m sorry to say I no longer attend any church.

April 2, 2012 at 8:23 pm
(58) John says:

Only 0.024 of catholic pastors vs: 5% of other Christian pastors 319 times the likelihood of a priest doing that. Priests are 0.00252% of Catholics which are 25% of us population. Most abuse occur by family members and relatives 48%, 36% rarely a stranger 7% or teacher 10%. 
- http://www.usccb.com

April 7, 2012 at 7:32 am
(59) Paul says:

Catholic clergy in Ireland ,Belgium ,Austria, the Netherlands, the USA etc have been found to be responsible for the most gross abuse of children. This issue has been and remains international in scope.The defence that others have done it too is so school-yard as to sound ridiculous and does nothing to contribute to the ownership of the problem or to its solution. Accusations of anti-Catholicism may or may not be true in some instances ,however, the actions of some priests have only given such plenty of ammunition.

July 2, 2012 at 5:26 pm
(60) Angel says:

Amen, brother. The Roman Catholic Church was established by Jesus Christ Himself with Saint Peter the apostle as our first pope. I get so sick and tired of people bashing the Church. The Catholic Church has done more than any other church, organization, government etc to guard and protect the “least of these my brethren”: women, orphans, widows, the sick and the poor for the last 2,000 years. Yes, the Church is not perfect because it is made up of sinners like you and me.
“Mate”, if you think any other church is perfect go and join it, it won’t be perfect anymore. There are good and bad priests, and the bad ones should be identified and punished; but we cannot judge Pope Benedict, all the bishops & priests because of some bad apples. The Catholic Church (“catholic” means universal) & the Sacraments is the bridge between us and God. May God bless us & Mother Mary keep & guide us to Jesus, her son.

February 15, 2013 at 3:22 pm
(61) Maggie says:

The Catholic Church has a membership of approx 1.2 billion people world wide with about 400,000 priests. If you compare the number of priests accused of sexual abuse to the above numbers it is only a very small percentage. If you look at other organizations the numbers would be comparable or probably lower within the church. The Catholic Church was founded by Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago and can you think of any other church/organization that has withstood the test of time. Christ said to the first pope St Peter “Thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build my church and I will give to you the keys of the Kingdom of Heaven and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”. He also said to his followers that they would be hated “because of Me” and how true that is today with so much bias and hatred against the church. It is the only church that does not cave in to the whims of popular culture and the only one that adheres fully to the teachings of Jesus Christ. The majority of priests and religious within the Catholic Church are wonderful, loving, giving people who spend their lives caring for others. OK these priests that abused children were evil and devious and how they infiltrated Christ’s church God only knows and yes some of the bishops through ignorance I would say more than anything did not do what they should have done, but don’t blame the whole church for the sins of the few.

April 19, 2013 at 9:05 pm

amen, amen, AMEN and I say unto you who are “children of the world” CAST YOUR FIRST STONE if your hands are without blemish and “crucify Jesus” again and again upon the cross of Anti Catholic hatred and biases.

June 18, 2013 at 2:46 pm
(63) matt says:

I have been doing a little research on this and some of the findings are disturbing. My view is from the health care position.
I found that Child abuse was first brought to court in the mid 70′s . that Is the 1970,s. The first case was presented by the society to prevent abuse to animals. I have been trying to find if this law was in place ina all 50 states and I am having trouble . Canada had a law to protect children in the late 1800′s circa 1890.
A comment was made that the Church failed to report the abuse . The question becomes report it to who?
I don’t know what the status was in other countries either. The Catholic Church and other denominations would all face a similar problem in that the native country has different laws and statues with different time lines. In the US each state may have different times when they enacted Child protection laws.
We still as a country do not defend children equally. Life is not defended in each state.
the hypocrisy is every where. The Church teaches the truth when will men follow it?

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