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This time, the climate is different?
March 4, 2011 3:31 PM   Subscribe

A scathing grand jury report accused the Philadelphia Archdiocese of providing safe haven for as many as 37 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. Most of those priests remain active in the ministry. 'The possibility that even one predatory priest, not to mention three dozen, might still be serving in parishes — “on duty in the archdiocese today, with open access to new young prey,” as the grand jury put it — has unnerved many Roman Catholics here and sent the church reeling in the latest and one of the most damning episodes in the American church since it became engulfed in the sexual abuse scandal nearly a decade ago. The extent of the scandal here, including a cover-up that the grand jury said stretched over many years, is so great that Philadelphia is “Boston reborn,” said David J. O’Brien, who teaches Catholic history at the University of Dayton, referring to the archdiocese where widespread sexual abuse exploded in public in 2002.'

“The thing that is significant about Philadelphia is the assumption that the authorities had made changes and the system had been fixed,” said Terence McKiernan, the president of BishopAccountability.org, which archives documents from the abuse scandal in dioceses across the country. “But the headline is that in Philadelphia, the system is still broke.”

Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, many are trying to come to grips with the legacy of sexual abuse in the wake of Cardinal Roger Mahony's final weeks in his post.

As problems of sexual abuse strike closer to the Vatican itself, 'an Italian court has convicted a priest of molesting boys and sentenced him to 15 years in prison' 'in a case closely watched because his bishop admitted knowing of the abuse allegations, but didn't remove the priest.

The trial of Rev. Ruggero Conti, a politically connected priest, garnered international headlines last year when his bishop was called to testify about the molestation just as the clerical abuse scandal that erupted in Europe inched closer to the Vatican'.

Last November, 'the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York to be its president on Tuesday in a surprise move that reaffirmed the conservative direction of the Roman Catholic Church in America.

The vote makes Archbishop Dolan the most visible face of the church in the United States. It also suggested that the bishops were seeking a powerful and reliably orthodox voice to reassert the church’s teaching in the court of public opinion and to disarm critics who insist that the bishops have lost their moral authority as a result of their role in the sexual abuse scandals.

For the first time, the bishops overlooked tradition and passed over a vice president who was running for the presidency, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson. Bishop Kicanas represents the more liberal “social justice” tradition of the American church and is known for advocating dialogue between Catholic liberals and traditionalists. Archbishop Dolan is considered a moderate conservative.

Archbishop Dolan said in a news conference after the vote that he would carry on the forceful opposition of his predecessor, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, to the recent health care overhaul because the bishops believed it would permit expanded government financing for abortion.'
posted by VikingSword (127 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
This is interesting. Its not just cops, financiers, etc who "stick together". This phenomenon of seeing someone do something disgusting, and still protecting them because they are in the same profession should be studied hard.

These guys aren't the kind of "christians" they want others to become...they are just a bunch of fratboys looking out for their bros.

See also:
dirty cops
wall street
the greek system
...ad nauseum
posted by hal_c_on at 3:41 PM on March 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Jesus, how much is enough? At this point if you're still attending one of the churches run by the Philadelphia, Boston, or L.A. archdiocese then you are part of the problem.
posted by 2bucksplus at 3:44 PM on March 4, 2011 [21 favorites]


Sure, let's blame the victims.
posted by empath at 3:46 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I look forward to the Tea Party protest against these institutions.
posted by edgeways at 3:48 PM on March 4, 2011 [8 favorites]


This phenomenon of seeing someone do something disgusting, and still protecting them because they are in the same profession should be studied hard.

It's just another manifestation of tribalism -- yet another one of the lizard brain instincts that, while necessary to ensure survival in ancient times, has worn out its welcome.
posted by LordSludge at 3:50 PM on March 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oops, I really botched that "March 20 2011" link - mods, please remove that whole particular link in its entirety - I *way* misread the date.
posted by VikingSword at 3:52 PM on March 4, 2011


Whether it's a manifestation of tribalism or not, the basic facts boil down to those in charge having lied repeatedly to both the law and their own parishioners about the status of these criminal priests.

The hammer needs to be brought down hard.

This whole thing is disgusting.
posted by hippybear at 3:55 PM on March 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


For sure.
posted by LordSludge at 3:58 PM on March 4, 2011


[made an edit according to OP request, carry on.]
posted by jessamyn at 4:00 PM on March 4, 2011


Sure, let's blame the victims.

If the representatives of an organization to which I gave my time, money, and care of my children lied to me repeatedly, covered it up, lied some more, etc., you bet I'd feel victimized. And I'd distance myself from them as far and fast as possible.
posted by rtha at 4:17 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


That's fine. And the people that didn't, who had their kids raped are not complicit in the rape of their own children.
posted by empath at 4:24 PM on March 4, 2011


The other day I saw something pretty unusual, an old video Sean Hannity debating someone even more socially conservative them him. Hannity had a catholic priest on who was saying that contraception was never ethical, while Hannity said it was OK for non-Catholics because it would reduce abortions. The Priest was saying birth control was totally immoral.

Anyway, later on that Priest got arrested for raping some women or something like that.

I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.
posted by delmoi at 4:30 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.

Fear. Fear is a pretty common emotion.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 4:35 PM on March 4, 2011


I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.

They were probably raised to believe that there is a real god, that that god has specifically endorsed the teachings of the Catholic Church as the best and most sure path to salvation, and that crimes committed by priests, bishops, and popes have no bearing on whether or not the doctrines of the Church itself are true.
posted by Marty Marx at 4:37 PM on March 4, 2011 [15 favorites]


"Fears of Abusive Priests in Philadelphia" reads the headline.

"Fear of."

I think if "a scathing grand jury report accused the Philadelphia Archdiocese of providing safe haven for as many as 37 priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse or inappropriate behavior toward minors" it's gone beyond fears of abusive priests.
posted by jtron at 4:52 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have friends who are RC, and I ask them that. One, a lay brother, gave me a story about "loving the body, while fighting the disease within it", and "wanting to work from within to correct yada yada yada."

It sounded good.

Except... he isn't working on the problem. But he is financially supporting the RC Church, its legions of lawyers, its well-practiced and institutionalized shell game of pederasty coverups, and so on.

--

I once attacked a friend for "lightly" sexually assaulting a young girl (age 10, kissed her at a party). He had a history of molesting grown women at parties, so almost no one who heard my story doubted it for a minute. But, after people who condemned him learned that I had banned him from my property forever, those same people told me I had "gone overboard", and "he wasn't that bad."

When something as ugly as sexual assault pops up, people would rather turn away, and quiet things up. People don't like to see ugly things are true about the people they know. Or churches they have attended since childhood.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:52 PM on March 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


I have friends who are RC, and I ask them that.
=
I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.
posted by IAmBroom at 4:52 PM on March 4, 2011


But he is financially supporting the RC Church, its legions of lawyers, its well-practiced and institutionalized shell game of pederasty coverups, and so on.

Fine, but the complaint was that anyone identified as Catholic at all, not that they were giving money to the Church.

Mind, I think identifying as Catholic is still objectionable because the Church requires that you endorse homophobic and misogynistic theology, but it doesn't require endorsing pedophilia, which is what people are trying to hang the laity with here.
posted by Marty Marx at 4:58 PM on March 4, 2011


Any idea why the catholic priests are so much deeper into this child molestation business than protestants? Are perhaps the protestant priest child molesters simply not being caught because either protestant churches are more rural on average protestant priests already run their church, making coverups trivial, etc.? Or maybe the worst just found a mormon polygamy cult?
posted by jeffburdges at 5:04 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Protestant ministers usually take no vow of celibacy. They are (mostly) allowed by their faith to express their sexual nature (albeit only within the confines of marriage)
posted by Stu-Pendous at 5:07 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I should have said hetero-sexual marriage... They are still repressed if thy happen to be gay.
posted by Stu-Pendous at 5:09 PM on March 4, 2011


"I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic."

Because it's not THEIR damn-ass church. It's MY damn-ass church and I'm not going to let these fuckheads and their immoral, unchristian, felonious behavior ruin it. A great way to let evil win is for all the good people to throw up their hands and say, "Hell with it, I'm done here," and abandon the institution to the evildoers.

And the Church is wrong on other topics too, notably homosexuality and the role of women, but, again if you abandon it to the fuckheads, the fuckheads win by default, and I don't really think that the spiritual home of a billion people should be in the hands of the fuckheads.

Is that a clear enough reason?

But you can bet that my time, money, and church attendance all take into account the who and the what and the when of the scandal.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:09 PM on March 4, 2011 [24 favorites]


@jeffburdges: "Any idea why the catholic priests are so much deeper into this child molestation business than protestants?"

When I was in (Protestant) seminary, during the (apparent) height of the Catholic pedophilia crisis in the U.S., several of the senior faculty, who had positions of authority in various Protestant denominations, told us that the difference between the Catholics and the Protestants on this issue was primarily that the Catholics had been caught and excoriated in public while the Protestant denominations had, until that point, been fairly successful at keeping it contained.

Also Protestants traditionally run fewer schools in the U.S. than Catholics do.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 5:13 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Pretty much every time this comes up, everyone wants to blame catholics for being stupid and gullible enough to have their children get raped. In no other case would it be acceptable to tell a rape victim that they were asking for it, but when its catholics being raped, that's perfectly fine.
posted by empath at 5:14 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


I should have said hetero-sexual marriage... They are still repressed if thy happen to be gay.

Not always
- Episcopalians FTW.
posted by naoko at 5:14 PM on March 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


jeffburdges: Here's Dan Savage's series over at the slog O They Will Know We Are Christians detailing largely American protestant abuses. I don't think it happens less necessarily, it's just that if a small church loosely affiliated with a national organization has an abusive preacher, that's as far as it goes.

The problem is the heirarchy of the Church gets involved in the cover-up and that turns it from "A single abuser gets found out" to "international organization enables decades of abuse though extra-legal cover-up".

Eyebrows McGee: Nothing I've seen or read from the Catholic church makes me think that the lay opinion that it's "Their damn-ass church" is in any way correct, or in any way respected by the hierarchy. The fuckheads HAVE WON, they took possession of the Church sometime before 1000 AD and they have no intention of giving that fucker back.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:17 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Wikipedia claims there are 41,406 catholic priests in the US. Apparently there are about a million employees of the catholic church.

Finding statistics on child sex abuse is difficult, but here are two different estimates:

• "There are 400,000 registered sex offenders in the United States
- Ernie Allen, President of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to co-anchor Hannah Storm on The Early Show

• Dr. Gene Abel estimates that between 1% and 5% of our population molest children
-CNN Specials Transcript #454-Thieves of Childhood.

Based on the registered sex offender numbers, about .13% of population is a convicted sex offender. If the population of catholics (priest and lay) is average we'd expected there to be 54 catholic priests and 1300 lay employees who are convicted sex offenders.

Based on Abel's numbers we'd expect (414-2070) priests and (10,000-50,000) lay employees of the catholic church to be child molesters (convicted or not).

Is there actually more sexual abuse of minors in the population of US priests than anywhere else? Because if there isn't these stories just seem like outrage bait, and I've never seen anyone do any kind of detailed look into the statistics of it.

Also: you'd want to ~double my priest numbers to account for the fact that sex abuse is vastly more likely to be perpetrated by men than women and the population of priests is entirely male...

Also (2): I really need to stop opening these threads. I get to be both angry at catholic priests and annoyed by metafilter, It's bi-losing. I lose here and I lose there.
posted by pseudonick at 5:17 PM on March 4, 2011 [10 favorites]


Umm, we've no reason to imagine the rates of sexual harassment and pedophilia are any higher among catholic clergy than protestant clergy, Stu-Pendous. Indeed, our only reason to imagine these rates are any higher among clergy than lay people are power plus access.
posted by jeffburdges at 5:18 PM on March 4, 2011


Pretty much every time this comes up, everyone wants to blame catholics for being stupid and gullible enough to have their children get raped. In no other case would it be acceptable to tell a rape victim that they were asking for it, but when its catholics being raped, that's perfectly fine.

You know, no one in this thread has as yet said any such thing. Perhaps you're psychic and can tell what the comment after mine will be. But if not, maybe quit poisoning the well.
posted by rtha at 5:20 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


At this point if you're still attending one of the churches run by the Philadelphia, Boston, or L.A. archdiocese then you are part of the problem.

But he is financially supporting the RC Church, its legions of lawyers, its well-practiced and institutionalized shell game of pederasty coverups, and so on.
posted by empath at 5:22 PM on March 4, 2011


Is there actually more sexual abuse of minors in the population of US priests than anywhere else?

It actually kind of doesn't matter. The problem isn't that priests are raping children. That kind of thing happens when adults are unsupervised around children (boy scouts, whatever)... The problem is that the church covered it up for decades and let these priests continue to rape children instead of putting them in prison where they belong.
posted by empath at 5:24 PM on March 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


I should have said hetero-sexual marriage... They are still repressed if thy happen to be gay.

Yeah, not just the Episcopalians as mentioned above, but also United Church Of Christ, Presbyterian Church (USA) [depending on the congregation], and other denominations within the Protestant side have taken on the "open and affirming" designation.
posted by hippybear at 5:24 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


The problem isn't that priests are raping children.

(What I meant the problem unique to the Catholic church in particular isn't the child molesting. Obviously child molestation is a problem.)
posted by empath at 5:25 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


At this point if you're still attending one of the churches run by the Philadelphia, Boston, or L.A. archdiocese then you are part of the problem.

But he is financially supporting the RC Church, its legions of lawyers, its well-practiced and institutionalized shell game of pederasty coverups, and so on.
posted by empath at 5:22 PM on March 4 [+] [!] Other [4/6]: «≡»


I'm not seeing your point. You accused people of saying rape victims asked for it. You accused people of saying that Catholics are stupid and gullible. If the above comments you quoted are supposed to support your own words, I'm not seeing it. (I'm not saying it may not have happened in other threads).

Saying that someone who continues to support an organization that has a documented history of lies and cover-ups and abuse is part of the problem is a debatable point, but it is not the same as saying that someone who supports the organization deserves to be raped or have their children raped.
posted by rtha at 5:31 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there actually more sexual abuse of minors in the population of US priests than anywhere else? Because if there isn't these stories just seem like outrage bait, and I've never seen anyone do any kind of detailed look into the statistics of it.

It's not "outrage bait" for the simple reason that you are approaching the statistics wrong. Even assuming the rates of offending priests to be equivalent to the general population, the outrage is not about the rates. We all understand that in every walk of life, you will encounter criminals. Nobody imagines that excludes the RCC.

What is causing outrage is something entirely different: the fact that RCC priests are often in a unique position to abuse victims - UNLIKE most of the general population abusers. Further, that the hierarchy is often complicit in covering the abuse - UNLIKE for most of the general population abusers. And the hierarchy often enables further abuses by shifting the priests around, who then find more victims - UNLIKE for most of the general population abusers. And the hierarchy frequently does that by defying the law, and on top of that, getting special treatment from the state (especially in places like Ireland, but also in the U.S.). That may or may not result in greater number of victims per abuser, but it certainly is responsible for the observation that the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is the biggest pedophile ring in the world.

So no, it is not "outrage bait" in the least. You may want to re-think what led you to such a possibility, given the vast difference between ordinary unaffiliated sexual criminals and the organized sexual crime that's been going on in the RCC for centuries.
posted by VikingSword at 5:33 PM on March 4, 2011 [12 favorites]


And, you know what, I'm going to back out of this thread. I'm already in a shitty, shitty mood for things unrelated to mefi or this discussion, and I don't want to end up taking out my desire to hit someone or something on an undeserving target. I still disagree with you, empath, but I'm not in a good place right now and you don't deserve to be dragged into it.
posted by rtha at 5:34 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


Jeff ... Sexual misdeeds due to the power+access dynamic often plays itself out in Protestant churches as well. I was merely guessing at an explanation for your claim that Catholics are "deeper into" it... I respectfully withdraw it if the premise is flawed.
posted by Stu-Pendous at 5:35 PM on March 4, 2011


I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.

Yikes. I'm not catholic, but that offended me.

Whatever your belief/moral system is, you have people who speak for you. Whether it be priests, dawkins, imams, or whatever.

Now the thing is, those speakers are HUMAN. They fuck up. Sometimes they fuck up by purpose...while working together. That sucks. That makes them pretty pretty pretty bad people.

But just because they are bad, doesn't mean that the whole system is wrong. If Richard Dawkins were caught doing what these priests were doing with a whole bunch of other scientists, you wouldn't say "I knew those heathens were wrong...I'm going straight to church to sort this out". You'd just think dawkins and the crew were bad people.

Just don't throw out the baby with the bathwater.
posted by hal_c_on at 5:45 PM on March 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


> Jeff ... Sexual misdeeds due to the power+access dynamic often plays itself out in Protestant churches as well. I was merely guessing at an explanation for your claim that Catholics are "deeper into" it...

Your comments are astonishing.

There have been countless thousands of substantiated sexual abuse claims by Catholic clergy. And far fewer by Protestants. But Catholics are a distinct minority amongst American Christians...

What you're saying is that Protestants have somehow managed to successfully cover up tens if not hundreds of thousands of abuse cases - yet you provide not one scrap of evidence.

Why not take the simpler hypothesis - that accusations and convictions are roughly proportional to crimes committed? Without any other evidence, what other hypothesis can be considered?

As to why Catholic priests might abuse children more than other religions, perhaps it has escaped your attention that Catholic priests are the only ones who take a vow of celibacy? That if you're a closeted gay male in a Catholic community, the only possible escape is the priesthood?

In fact, most other Christian religions essentially require their priests or ministers to be married. Can you not see how this would tend to reduce sexual abuse of their children in care.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:48 PM on March 4, 2011


> But just because they are bad, doesn't mean that the whole system is wrong.

The above stories seem to show systematic abuse and systematic cover-ups of the sexual abuse. Indeed, it seems very clear that the Pope himself helped cover up sexual abuse.

Systematic abuse does indeed mean the entire system is wrong.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:50 PM on March 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


"There have been countless thousands of substantiated sexual abuse claims by Catholic clergy. And far fewer by Protestants."

Cite please
posted by Blasdelb at 5:54 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.

Good. Who gives a good goddamn what you think? Enjoy your small-mindedness. I was born with this horrible disease and I'll die happily with it. It has nothing to do with any church or any organized religion or even much of a belief in a smiling (or scowling) man in the sky. To me, being Catholic is sort of like being Jewish: you're not obligated to believe in much, you don't have to agree with anything anyone says, you just have to show up when people die. And try to take care of each other.

These threads, and the rest of the "Haw haw, child molesters" crap people trot out is frustrating. As though identifying as Catholic is an implicit or explicit endorsement of child molestation. The whole celibacy idea is . . . well, let's say it's fraught with issues. The cover-ups are indefensible and horrible, but not out of character from old-school, big building institutions with power structures.

Which is why I find "then you are part of the problem" entertaining: because my belief and self-identification isn't with some jackass Cardinal in a funny hat, it's with every nun and monk that helped raise me who went off to work in some god-forsaken place to try to make other folks' lives less miserable at a cost to themselves. Some of them are amazing people who made me want to be a better person. My failure to do so is entirely on me and no fault of theirs.
posted by yerfatma at 5:56 PM on March 4, 2011 [13 favorites]


> Cite please.

Given all the cases shows in the original posting, if you're claiming that there are many more such stories involving Protestant ministers, then the citation needed should definitely be yours.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:58 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lupus... I think you may have misunderstood me... I am not taking a position on the extent of Catholic vs. Protestant abuses at all.

Also, take a look at my previous comment regarding marriage.
posted by Stu-Pendous at 5:58 PM on March 4, 2011


Anyway, later on that Priest got arrested for raping some women or something like that.

If I wanted rambling anecdotes where the speaker forgets what he's talking about in the middle, I'd volunteer at an old folks home.
posted by yerfatma at 6:00 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


Systematic abuse does indeed mean the entire system is wrong.

The people within the system were wrong...not necessarily the system. Systematic abuse doesn't necessarily mean the system was SET UP to be abused, its just that it is being used that way.

Your theory would say that the ENTIRE United States is wrong during times of shitty leadership aligned with ambitious and selfish representatives of the people.

My theory would say to vote for the Democrats next time.
posted by hal_c_on at 6:00 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


"But Catholics are a distinct minority amongst American Christians..."

Um ... Catholics are the largest single denomination in America:

From Adherents.com, 2004 membership estimates & percentage of population:

Catholic 71,796,719 24.5%
Baptist 47,744,049 16.3%
Methodist 19,969,799 6.8%
Lutheran 13,520,189 4.6%
Presbyterian 7,897,597 2.7%

Also, you seem to be suggesting that unmarried people and/or homosexuals are more likely to molest children. That assertion is false.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:00 PM on March 4, 2011 [6 favorites]


(My apologies, that's estimated ADULT membership.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:02 PM on March 4, 2011


Last observation from me for the night and I'll leave you to your Friday Night Hate-athon: those Orange Country wingnuts would have been better of protesting outside a Catholic church. I'm still unable to figure out where the tolerance lines are drawn in this place.
posted by yerfatma at 6:04 PM on March 4, 2011


These threads, and the rest of the "Haw haw, child molesters" crap people trot out is frustrating. As though identifying as Catholic is an implicit or explicit endorsement of child molestation. The whole celibacy idea is . . . well, let's say it's fraught with issues. The cover-ups are indefensible and horrible, but not out of character from old-school, big building institutions with power structures.

Relax man. This has less to do with people hating on Catholicism because they don't like it...than it has to do with white guilt. Its just easy enough to hate and say "ha ha...i reject my roots...or other white roots. See, I'm different than the other white guy. Oh snap, sale at J. Crew!".
posted by hal_c_on at 6:04 PM on March 4, 2011


Eyebrows McGee: thanks, I didn't know how large the Catholic Church in the US really was!

> Also, you seem to be suggesting that unmarried people and/or homosexuals are more likely to molest children.

I am quite aware of this fact.

This was not in fact what I was suggesting, though. We were asked to propose a reason why there would be more abuse by Catholic priests, and certainly a possible reason for it is forced celibacy - not "being unmarried" or "homosexuality".

Overall, I have to say that I'm surprised at the tack of this thread, which seems to be that there's no evidence that the Catholic Church has any particular problem with child abuse...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:06 PM on March 4, 2011


"In fact, most other Christian religions essentially require their priests or ministers to be married. Can you not see how this would tend to reduce sexual abuse of their children in care."

No, I really can't see how, especially given that well over 50% of sexual abuse in the U.S. is committed by parents against their own children (see page 59). I don't see what marriage has to do with pedophilia or felony sexual assault of children, and I'm not aware of any studies that show that marriage reduces the incidence of these activities.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:11 PM on March 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


those Orange Country wingnuts would have been better of protesting outside a Catholic church.

That's actually a kind of cogent observation, if you get rid of the crazies and substitute laity instead. If catholic parishioners protested outside of their local churches and especially cease financially supporting the church until change takes place, I bet it would take place pretty quickly. Instead, it's "thin blue line" stuff, lalala will never happen to my kid.

Does anyone else find the idea that the solution to this problem is to find statistics proving it's "really not that bad compared with these other people" pathetic and disgusting?
posted by maxwelton at 6:24 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


As to why Catholic priests might abuse children more than other religions, perhaps it has escaped your attention that Catholic priests are the only ones who take a vow of celibacy? That if you're a closeted gay male in a Catholic community, the only possible escape is the priesthood?

In fact, most other Christian religions essentially require their priests or ministers to be married. Can you not see how this would tend to reduce sexual abuse of their children in care.


Wait, wait, wait. I think it's common sense to say that celibacy is a likely factor in the rampant abuse of children among Catholic clergy (though marriage is by no means a guarantee of a sexual outlet), but it's a leap to assume that when boys are molested, it's because the priests are gay. First of all, girls get molested too. Secondly, neither gay nor straight men generally prefer children.

I'd be unsurprised and not particularly horrified to hear about closeted gay priests getting caught in tearoom scandals. But whatever combination of power and opportunity and who-knows-what that has caused this epidemic, it's outside of typical human sexuality.
posted by desuetude at 6:26 PM on March 4, 2011


"which seems to be that there's no evidence that the Catholic Church has any particular problem with child abuse..."

A particular problem? Yes. The PARTICULAR problem is the massive coverup perpetrated by a leadership responsible for the care of the most vulnerable in society, who completely abdicated that responsibility in favor of protecting felons and allowing them to continue to operate, committing among the most horrifying sins imaginable on the vulnerable and defenseless. There is no POSSIBLE excuse or justification for that behavior, particularly not from individuals charged with ethical and moral responsibilities.

A PREVALENCE problem? No. There's isn't any evidence I'm aware of that shows that a greater percentage of Catholic priests are molesters than leaders in other faiths -- or than schoolteachers. In fact, I work with schools right now, and a shiver runs down our collective administrative spines every time one of these stories break, because all evidence suggests that the prevalence of child molesters (who molest other people's children) is pretty constant across the population, and background checks only turn up the ones who have already gotten caught. That's why you make rules about closed doors and adults alone with children and things like that, but it's not a matter of "if" it will happen in your community, it's a matter of "when."

As I noted above, people in leadership positions in Protestant denominations told us it was just as prevalent in their churches, but hadn't drawn the press attention or court cases, for a variety of reasons. One of my professors told us he was having a bit of a knock-down fight with his regional authority over whether it was proper to use donations members gave in good faith assuming they were to build churches and feel hungry people as hush-money in these types of cases. They, in fact, used to get ragingly angry when people, especially Protestant leaders, dismissed it as "a Catholic problem," because clergy abuse happens across denominations and willfully turning a blind eye and saying, "hey, that's those other guys' problem, NOT OURS," is the first step towards the sort of horrific coverup that the Catholic Church engaged in. It happens in EVERY denomination, in EVERY religion, in EVERY institution where adults have potentially unsupervised access to children.

You don't want to get all fear-mongery and act like every adult is an abuser waiting to happen, since the vast majority (95+%) of adults would NEVER do such a thing; but you do have to be sensible and put safeguards in place and realize that the prevalence is pretty constant across populations, and that being wealthy or poor or Catholic or Protestant or Muslim or atheist or black or white or gay or straight or Texan or Minnesotan or an alien from Mars does NOT give you a pass on having to worry about pedophiles in your midst.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:26 PM on March 4, 2011 [7 favorites]


Priests aren't forced to be celibate; they elect it, for a host of varying reasons. A life where you have lots of exposure to children, power over them, and no need to participate in a marriage as cover for your predilections is undoubtedly very attractive to pedophiles.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:27 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


Upthread: "I can't understand why anyone would stay catholic."

I think it is fair to say that many US catholics would disagree strongly with the Pope and Cardinals on many issues.

One can belong to an organization and disagree strongly with what the leaders of that organization believe.
posted by zippy at 6:33 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


It really astounds me how many people just blindly assume that elective celibacy is some kind of terrible struggle or burden and the average celibate person some sort of ticking time bomb of frustration, liable to asplode and spew raging libido all over any sentient life form in their path.

I'm sure there maybe are some celibate religious who went into it out of twisted repression and scary weird upbringing, and there are a tiny minority who choose it because they are child-preferring sexual predators. But there are plenty of priests and other people who find the "sacrifice" of celibacy not especially difficult and plenty of others who outright prefer it. Not having sex with other people doesn't necessarily preclude solo sexual activity (even if the Church officially doesn't permit it), so if the celibate non-pedophile person requires an "outlet," there's an easy release valve.

The way non-celibate people talk about celibacy sometimes sounds like a remnant of the era when people believed that if men didn't ejaculate regularly, semen would back up into their brains and make them insane.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:44 PM on March 4, 2011 [4 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy:Given all the cases shows in the original posting, if you're claiming that there are many more such stories involving Protestant ministers, then the citation needed should definitely be yours.

Mmm... nice try, but no. You claimed "There have been countless thousands of substantiated sexual abuse claims by Catholic clergy. And far fewer by Protestants." You need to support this statement, because the OP does not.
posted by 2N2222 at 6:47 PM on March 4, 2011


I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.

(spoken as a fallen catholic who still understands the basic facts of the faith)

Because it's how we were raised. There was much more to being Catholic than church. It was an identity. A force of being. I'm from Chicago. Being Catholic wasn't a choice. It was who you were on many levels. People were hired for jobs based upon what parish they belonged to. Your union pals went to the same church. Your kids were baptized and confirmed at the same church. Your identity as a person was based upon what parish you belonged to.

It became a sense of community.

It's not something the average Joe can just walk away from. The church became who we were and is who we are. It went beyond being a religion. More a way of life. It was more being accepted as part of a community. You needed to hire someone new at the job... you hired the kid who went to your church. Someone got cancer and was uninsured... you all got together and held pot luck dinners as fundraisers. The church wasn't just a place to worship. It was community.

These bastards that fouled the waters will be removed. Those that hid the troubles and those that committed the crimes will be removed. It will take time. There will be more scandals.... but you see, the Catholics will always rise above these misdeeds. We have a community. Even if a few bastards have tried to tear apart the family. The family will eventually find... and out these criminals.

Right now we're in a "Flight 93" situation. We fight so no one else gets hurt. The problem is... getting rid of the bastards who are in power. The ones who allows this to happen. Walk into a tavern in Chicago, address this issue and see how many vote for "forgiveness".

Change is coming. Publicity helps.
posted by Bighappyfunhouse at 6:54 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't really understand why anyone would stay catholic.

I can't understand why anyone would stay a Jew
The Palestinians have seen what they can do
I can't understand why anyone would stay a cop
their strongarm tactics have got to stop
I can't understand why anyone would stay black
those reparations aren't coming back
I can't understand why anyone would stay a woman
as a process, menstruation is subhuman

Enjoy Your Intolerance!
posted by yerfatma at 7:05 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


The church became who we were and is who we are. It went beyond being a religion. More a way of life.

For many it was bound up even in their ethnic or national identity, such as for many Eastern/Central Europeans, or Irish. It isn't just about dropping the church. It would be like dropping a huge, huge part of your identity.

Change is coming. Publicity helps.

That's an optimistic thing to say, hope you are right. But for now, it looks like it's going in the opposite direction - see my last link in the FPP:

"The vote makes Archbishop Dolan the most visible face of the church in the United States. It also suggested that the bishops were seeking a powerful and reliably orthodox voice to reassert the church’s teaching in the court of public opinion and to disarm critics who insist that the bishops have lost their moral authority as a result of their role in the sexual abuse scandals."

"For the first time, the bishops overlooked tradition and passed over a vice president who was running for the presidency, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson. Bishop Kicanas represents the more liberal “social justice” tradition of the American church and is known for advocating dialogue between Catholic liberals and traditionalists. Archbishop Dolan is considered a moderate conservative.

Archbishop Dolan said in a news conference after the vote that he would carry on the forceful opposition of his predecessor, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, to the recent health care overhaul because the bishops believed it would permit expanded government financing for abortion."


They are defiant and willing to overlook tradition - when they usually defend tradition - just so that they can drag the RCC back toward a more authoritarian stance toward reform including reforms suggested by laity or liberal-leaning priests in face of unconscionable sexual crimes. The socially regressive political advocacy also fits right in.
posted by VikingSword at 7:05 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


I should have said hetero-sexual marriage... They are still repressed if thy happen to be gay.

Not always - Episcopalians FTW.


And the ELCA!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:05 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


2n2222:

Any search for Catholic sexual abuse easily finds thousands of cases, including numerous cases of institutionalized sexual abuse in orphanages and schools.

I was unable to find nearly as many Protestant sexual abuse cases - though it's easy to find some. But "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence".

What I would claim is that, given the huge number of examples of systematic child abuse within the Catholic Church, and the lack of a similar such volume on the part of other religious groups, the burden of proof falls on those who claim that this abuse is equally common in other religions. All I see above is "someone told me that the problem is equally common amongst Protestants."

(Please note that I'm not a Protestant nor a Catholic, and am generally suspicious of religions.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:06 PM on March 4, 2011


@VikingSword: "it looks like it's going in the opposite direction"

Bishops look damn stupid ministering to empty pews. Leadership can only go the wrong direction for so long before noticing their flock is off doing something else entirely. (Also, I think people overemphasize the importance of the hierarchy, but that's a whole separate debate about official and unofficial forms of religions and whatnot.)

Also, historically, the Catholic leadership often digs its heels in and gets super-conservative right before* making a giant leap forward. It's like they can feel the pull of history coming and the conservative wing pulls back as hard as it can ....

*Right before = 20 - 200 years. These are glacial time periods. :)

Some church-watchers think the change that's coming is going to be married and/or women priests, since the church is, like, running out of dudes willing to do it. (Ministry in first world countries generally is rapidly becoming a pink-collar profession, anyway.) Crises relating to the clergy, they think, tend to support their view that a change is coming for how the clerical stuff is organized.

The alternative, really, to a giant leap forward of some sort is schism, Episcopalian style. There are a lot of factors and pressures at play here, and it's hard to predict how it'll play out, but SOME of those pressures have got to be released.

Part of my masters' thesis actually related to clergy shortages in the U.S. and inadequate "official" ministry to women, but kinda tangentially.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:19 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd argue the simplest explanation remains power plus access. And that suggests that, after you control for the greater frequency of catholic schools cited by Eyebrows McGee, you'll find equal rates of abuse among protestants and catholics, again as Eyebrows McGee suggests. Ain't Occam's razor wonderful? :)

In any case, the ongoing scandal isn't so much the pedophilia itself, so much as the cover up, that wikileaks has shown extends all the way to the pope. And my original question was more : Are the protestants being caught quickly? Or do societal factors mean protestant pedophile priest aren't being caught nearly as reliably?
posted by jeffburdges at 7:31 PM on March 4, 2011


VikingSword: What is causing outrage is something entirely different: the fact that RCC priests are often in a unique position to abuse victims - UNLIKE most of the general population abusers. Further, that the hierarchy is often complicit in covering the abuse - UNLIKE for most of the general population abusers. And the hierarchy often enables further abuses by shifting the priests around, who then find more victims - UNLIKE for most of the general population abusers.

Unique in terms of what? The religious powerover can be analogous to social powerover, as in a babysitter, teacher, parent, relative. Other parents and adults are often complicit in telling young abuse victims 'it never happened' or 'it wasn't meant like that' or 'get over it'. The social heirarchy absolutely protects its own, from 'he was such a lovely guy' to 'nice guys don't do things like that'.

The patterns of abuse in Catholic churchs is in no way unique to them - schools have done the same shifting around, families and other social networks have as well.

VikingSword: And the hierarchy frequently does that by defying the law, and on top of that, getting special treatment from the state (especially in places like Ireland, but also in the U.S.). That may or may not result in greater number of victims per abuser, but it certainly is responsible for the observation that the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is the biggest pedophile ring in the world.

That's the unique bit. Oddly enough, not something fixed by simply turning ones back on religion. Breaking the state-religion relationship is integral to actively dealing with this.

maxwelton: Does anyone else find the idea that the solution to this problem is to find statistics proving it's "really not that bad compared with these other people" pathetic and disgusting?

...if people didn't suggest that somehow 'not being Catholic' would protect one's children from abuse, it probably wouldn't come up. It may protect one's children from being assaulted/abused by their own priest but it isn't actually a protective behaviour.
posted by geek anachronism at 7:35 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


There are studies out there on the prevalence of Catholic vs. other denominations clergy sexual abuse of minors. We don't have to speculate; someone with journal access should dig, I can't do that from home. The studies are confounded by a variety of difficulties in gathering the data, but they at least give a hazy outline.

I can help with data on school sexual abuse:
"Prevalence in the United States. As a group, these studies present a
wide range of estimates of the percentage of U.S. students subject to sexual misconduct
by school staff and vary from 3.7 to 50.3 percent (Table 5). Because of its carefully
drawn sample and survey methodology, the AAUW report that nearly 9.6 percent of
students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career
presents the most accurate data available at this time." (Page 28 of this Dept of Ed report.)

To me, it's not an issue of "the Catholics aren't that bad"; it's an issue of "the Catholics are the canary in the coal mine, dude. Pay attention and get the miners out!" Children need protecting, period, and pretending these problems are limited to one type of people IS a willful blindness at best and complicity at worst.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:46 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think anyone is saying that child molestation is only a Catholic problem.

My outrage, in the context of this FPP, is directed toward the Church leaders who said they were moving these pedophiles out of ministerial duties, and didn't.

Why aren't any of these priests on sex offender roles? As much as I hate how broadly they are often applied, let's make these men have to sleep in the middle of the woods because they can't be any closer than X distance to a school or a park or anywhere children congregate.

I think the ball got dropped here by our own legal system, when all this abuse was brought out in the first place. For some reason we surrendered our collective right to seek justice for the sake of placating the Catholic Church, and we trusted them to handle the problem in their own way. They haven't lived up to that trust, and children are paying the consequences for our collective bad judgement.
posted by hippybear at 7:54 PM on March 4, 2011 [5 favorites]


> To me, it's not an issue of "the Catholics aren't that bad"; it's an issue of "the Catholics are the canary in the coal mine, dude. Pay attention and get the miners out!" Children need protecting, period, and pretending these problems are limited to one type of people IS a willful blindness at best and complicity at worst.

I could not agree more with your statement. But if the Catholic Church at all levels has systematically prevented the protection of children from predators, why should the perpetrators not be punished? As far as I know, there is no other organization that has been repeatedly shown to have protected child abusers.

While people molesting children are very bad people, they are also mentally ill people who should be jailed and then treated. Their superiors who covered up their crimes do not have the excuse of mental illness...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:06 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


One reason that Protestant churches might have less of a systemic problem with this is that most Protestant congregations choose their own pastors. In my Episcopalian parish, if we found out about molestation by our priest, we would go to the diocese and go though the process of reporting to law enforcement/ firing the priest. Our Bishops don't place priests in new parishes or move them to a different diocese, so it's much harder to lose track of bad priests in the system.

Just a thought, from a former RC who left during the Boston scandal.
posted by Biblio at 8:14 PM on March 4, 2011 [3 favorites]


They - priests and superiors both - should absolutely be in jail.

But that seems rather a different question than whether sexual abuse of minors is unique to Catholics.

(also, those convicted are on sex offender lists.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:33 PM on March 4, 2011


Yes it is tangental to whether sexual abuse of minors is unique to Catholics.

But looking at the FPP, I only see mentions of Catholics, specifically in Philadelphia.

Am I missing something, or is that whole "is this unique" thing just a massive derail?
posted by hippybear at 8:36 PM on March 4, 2011


> just a massive derail?

Well, we seem to go through the "everyone else does it too" theme every time one of these comes up on Metafilter... despite seeming lack of any hard evidence.

Like any other corrupt organization that protects criminals (I'm looking at you, US government!) those responsible need to be held to account from top to bottom. If Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Buddhist or Flying Spaghetti Monster organizations are protecting child molesters, then they should also be brought to justice.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:53 PM on March 4, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have a recurring daydream about this.

In a nearby parallel universe, goateed Pope Benedict XVI made a very short address at the time of his election. Expressing regret at leaving his post as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with his work incomplete, he offered one verse without commentary: "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believed in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." (Matthew 18:6)

Then the terror descended. The word quickly got out that the guilty should immediately surrender to the police and confess in exhaustive detail. The tempted were offered the best counseling available and a posting at a quiet monastery out in the desert somewhere. Those priests who continued to prey on children slept with one eye open, knowing that some night Swiss guardsman might burst down the door and haul them off for extraordinary rendition to the Vatican, a trip that would end with an auto de fe in St. Peter's Square.

Sure it'd be evil and flagrantly illegal, but at least it would be evil in keeping with the bad old traditions of the Catholic Church. Arrogant, self-righteous, sneering at the laws that bind lesser mortals and more than a little cruel, but at least the bad vicar church was never contemptible.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:12 PM on March 4, 2011 [9 favorites]


Man, you religious people, always with the burning-at-the-stake.
posted by ryanrs at 9:44 PM on March 4, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: Because it's not THEIR damn-ass church. It's MY damn-ass church and I'm not going to let these fuckheads and their immoral, unchristian, felonious behavior ruin it. A great way to let evil win is for all the good people to throw up their hands and say, "Hell with it, I'm done here," and abandon the institution to the evildoers.
Sounds good. But please understand that to an outsider looking in, the whole "I'm trying to change the system from within" is often indistinguishable from collaboration (or at least reluctant acceptance) when not otherwise accompanied by conspicuous and overt acts of dissent.

So what steps are you and/or your average American Catholic taking to take back YOUR church from these evildoers? Are you organizing protests, boycotts, or alternative venues, etc. until the RC Church purges their ranks of known offenders, cooperates with police in punishing them, and implementing comprehensive reforms and safeguards to minimize the risks of further abuses ever taking place?
posted by Davenhill at 12:10 AM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


This was not in fact what I was suggesting, though. We were asked to propose a reason why there would be more abuse by Catholic priests, and certainly a possible reason for it is forced celibacy - not "being unmarried" or "homosexuality".

This doesn't seem right to me. You seem to be saying that a forced celibate would take out their sexual frustration by abusing children. But why wouldn't they just have consensual sex with a woman? (This happens. A fair bit. I can think of two teachers at my Catholic school who quit the priesthood because they fell in love, and that was more important to them than remaining as priests).

Equally the 'gay Catholics have nowhere to go except into the priesthood' argument seems odd; I can certainly think of at least a handful of gay Catholics. Admittedly, most of them would be lapsed, but that's true of most of my cohort.

(Finally, can I just thank everyone for what, so far, seems a very level-headed and respectful discussion?)
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:45 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


While people molesting children are very bad people, they are also mentally ill people who should be jailed and then treated.

If paedophiles are mentally ill, then gays are as well.

If the only evidence of mental illness is that someone has a form of sexual desire that socially disapproved of, well I'm sorry, but you'd be locking up a hell of a lot of people.

This doesn't seem right to me. You seem to be saying that a forced celibate would take out their sexual frustration by abusing children. But why wouldn't they just have consensual sex with a woman?

There's no such thing as a forced celibate in this context. Priests are people who choose celibacy, but are sometimes unable to maintain their vows.

Why children? As someone said above -- access and power. They've got the access, and the power to intimidate. Children are much less likely to go making demands of them, and then go running to the diocese when those demands aren't met. They're trying to maximize their ability to cling to that power, privilege and identity.

The question, to me, is like asking 'why would someone masturbate with a piece of liver, a vaccuum cleaner or a fleshlight when they could just have consensual sex with a woman?' I'm sure some priests are paedophiles in that they're child-oriented in their sexual desires, but I'm guessing that some proportion are just really comfortable dehumanizing others and treating them as objects.

That's hardly unusual when it comes to men and their sexual desires -- nor is it limited to priests.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 4:28 AM on March 5, 2011


>> While people molesting children are very bad people, they are also mentally ill people who should be jailed and then treated.

> If paedophiles are mentally ill, then gays are as well.

Say, what?!

So, er, are you in favor of incarcerating gays, or allowing people to have sex with children?!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:10 AM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


PeterMcDermott: you've been a good poster here, and I'm a little baffled.

I do agree that the laws regarding underage sex are extremely draconian - that an 18-year-old can go to jail for having consensual sex with a 16-year-old is repugnant.

But we're not talking about that - we're talking about young children, often under the age 10, who by any standard of decency are unable to consent to sex, being raped by adults decades older than them.

To equate this to consensual homosexual activities between two adults, or youths of comparable ages, is abhorrent. Please tell me it was a mistake!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:21 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what steps are you and/or your average American Catholic taking to take back YOUR church from these evildoers? Are you organizing protests, boycotts, or alternative venues, etc. until the RC Church purges their ranks of known offenders, cooperates with police in punishing them, and implementing comprehensive reforms and safeguards to minimize the risks of further abuses ever taking place?

It doesn't work like that. Faith isn't transactional. You don't boycott God because you are pissed off at the actions of men and women in the church hierarchy. And it isn't "OUR" church, it is God's church. You go there because it is a holy place where you go to try and become a better person.

One of the nice things about Catholicism is that it strives to help people become better people. You don't just go and eat His Magic Cracker and you are good to go for the next week. It is therapeutic. You confess your sins, repent and are given guidance about how to go out and be less bad. You hear stories about how wronged people forgave, despite their pain. Because forgiving isn't about the person who wronged you, it is about ridding yourself of the burden of hating someone. You go and you hear stories about how people fought back against all odds. Sometimes their whole lives, without ever winning. Those are the people God lets cut the line into heaven.

The church is kind of like the Salvation Army in a way. (Or the SA is like the church.) The ranks of the priests, nuns, brothers, etc., are partially filled by people who NEED help as much as the give it. It is somewhat archaic in today's (rightfully) permissive and accepting society, but in times past, what was a troubled person going to do? The kid who isn't good in school and is never going to be able to support himself or a family. The painfully shy kids who can't outgrow it. The sexually confused. Etc. Instead of letting them be a burden to society, the church evolved into being a place where they can instead add to society. They go to the seminary or the convent and get trained in something, and they can go out and help people. (I can't prove it, but I think that's one of the reasons the celibacy rule evolved: homosexuals often weren't allowed to live in "normal" society, and people with unacceptable sexual urges can't morally act on them, so the church simply said "we'll give you a place to go and things to do, but you can't act on your sexual urges".)

I went to a Catholic high school. Because of various extra-curricular activities, I got to know a large number of the nuns and brothers. I came to realize that they needed us as much as we needed them. One of my favorite educators was a guy who probably would have been in jail if he hadn't become a brother. Sort of an angry loner. Having something to do, a place to go and the support of good people let him figure out his issues. (He never to my knowledge or even through rumor, hurt anyone.) And because of that, he was able to be a force for good.

There were a couple of nuns who were pretty obviously developmentally disabled. But instead of being homeless, or stuck in some state home basket weaving and refilling toner cartridges, they were able to work in the cafeteria or work in the attendance office.

And some of the most fun people were the retired priests and brothers who would work in the bookstore or make copies.

(Obviously, there were a couple of assholes. I'm sorry a 14 year old American doesn't know how to properly pronounce your name, Br. Ouelette. Lighten up.)

The very short moral of the story is that Catholicism is about community and trying to go out and be nice to each other.

It's not some kind of religious corporation where there are bright lines between the board of directors, the employees and the customers.

(I'm Catholic, and I'm an atheist.)

Anyway, the corruption and the protection is awful. It shouldn't happen. It is as close to unforgivable as you can get. (Running on the Catholic assumption that everything is forgivable. Otherwise, unforgivable.) And that's what makes it so hard for the church hierarchy to ruthlessly excise the rapists and molesters. It is a very difficult jedi mind trick to be duty bound legally to send an offender away while also feeling duty bound religiously to care for them. That's not an excuse, mind you, but that's why it is so hard for the church hierarchy to round up the offenders and send them off to prison. It isn't that the priests care less for the children than their fellow priests, it is a near-paradox: a priest's religious duty of care is the same to everyone.

And so while ultimately the right answer is for the church to ruthlessly excise these rapists and molesters from their ranks, to let them pay for their crimes and to continue to minister to them while they are in jail; in practice it is difficult to have the clarity to be able to do that. It is something the church ABSOLUTELY needs to do a better job of training their people on.
posted by gjc at 6:02 AM on March 5, 2011 [13 favorites]


gjc: you could have saved us all a lot of time and just written, "I intend to do nothing whatsoever about this."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:11 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


>> While people molesting children are very bad people, they are also mentally ill people who should be jailed and then treated.

> If paedophiles are mentally ill, then gays are as well.

Say, what?!

So, er, are you in favor of incarcerating gays, or allowing people to have sex with children?!


If I understand it correctly, the idea is that someone's sexual preferences are not mental illness. It is just a sexual orientation. Logically (it is argued), only one of the following can be true:

- sex is meant for procreation, and ALL sexual urges that aren't heterosexual in nature must be mental illness

- sex is not just for procreation and one's sexual urges alone do not constitute mental illness.

I don't think the assertion was made that it should be acceptable to jail the "mentally ill", or for pedophilia to be legal. Just that preference alone doesn't make someone mentally ill.
posted by gjc at 6:16 AM on March 5, 2011


The One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church has never "belonged" to the laity and it never will. It is the very archetype of authoritarian and hierarchical rule.

All of this "taking back our Church from those bastards" nonsense is pure Protestantism.
posted by whuppy at 6:18 AM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


gjc: you could have saved us all a lot of time and just written, "I intend to do nothing whatsoever about this."

Way to comprehend. Good job!

I'm sure the victims of abuse are glad you are on their side.
posted by gjc at 6:22 AM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


All of this "taking back our Church from those bastards" nonsense is pure Protestantism.
It does sound an awful lot like Martin Luther.
posted by willhopkins at 6:57 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


> If I understand it correctly, the idea is that someone's sexual preferences are not mental illness.

Sorry, I was very clear:

>> While people molesting children are very bad people, they are also mentally ill people who should be jailed and then treated.

PeterMcD quotes that, and immediately goes on to say:

> If paedophiles are mentally ill, then gays are as well.

We're talking about actual child molesters, not people who have a sexual preference that they choose not to act upon.

> > gjc: you could have saved us all a lot of time and just written, "I intend to do nothing whatsoever about this."

> Way to comprehend. Good job!

I read very closely what you wrote in response to the question, "What do you intend to do?" The answer appears to be, in fact, nothing.

You think it's "in practice difficult" to actually "excise these rapists and molesters from their ranks, to let them pay for their crimes" and your suggestion is that "the church ABSOLUTELY needs to do a better job of training their people on [this issue]" but you don't list a single thing that you, personally, intend to do.

This is your opportunity to clearly say what you intend to do, if anything.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:59 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


gjc, I can see your central point about the priests also being under the care of the church, but to expose the children under the care of the church to sexual abuse results in lives made greatly harder for the (often many) victims to protect one person. It's not valuing people equally at all, as the utilatarian analysis that would be required in that case suggests that children should not be exposed to the priests concerned.

It's not even that the theological analysis requires them to be turned in to the police (as much as I utterly detest this), but asking the CC to keep priests who have been credibly opposed in an environment with no access to children (they could become monks) is placing the value of the ego of the priest far above the value of the children. Surely that is immoral, thin blue line stuff. It's difficult to justify even given your theological claims.
posted by jaduncan at 7:00 AM on March 5, 2011


*credibly accused

*but not asking

My word.

gjc, I'd also like to say that I appreciate your input; it might be a bit heated but it's good to see different perspectives.
posted by jaduncan at 7:04 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Just giving some background on why some people's reactions aren't automatic. Not excusing it.
posted by gjc at 7:05 AM on March 5, 2011


You think it's "in practice difficult" to actually "excise these rapists and molesters from their ranks, to let them pay for their crimes" and your suggestion is that "the church ABSOLUTELY needs to do a better job of training their people on [this issue]" but you don't list a single thing that you, personally, intend to do.

This is your opportunity to clearly say what you intend to do, if anything.


Re-read the first paragraph. It is not MY church, or anyone's church. Boycott?? Boycott what? "You better do what I say or I'm not going to believe in Jesus any more? What are you gonna do then?" Alternative venue? "Dear God- You better get cracking or I'm going to rent an auditorium at the civic center and pray to you there! Ha!"

Everything else you suggest is self-indulgent performance art, and is even more meaningless than doing nothing.

You are right, I am not doing anything. I am neither a church goer, a church official, a police officer, a molester nor a victim. What can be done is being done by those with the power to make the changes.

Well, I AM doing this: defending the good things about the church, in the hopes that it balances out the simple-minded bigotry from people like you who think that when someone believes in the same god, or supports the same charities, as some child molesters, that it means those people condone it. It isn't acceptable when it is done to Muslims about terrorism, and it isn't acceptable when it is done to Catholics about molestation.
posted by gjc at 7:37 AM on March 5, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's not even that the theological analysis requires them to be turned in to the police (as much as I utterly detest this), but asking the CC to keep priests who have been credibly opposed in an environment with no access to children (they could become monks) is placing the value of the ego of the priest far above the value of the children. Surely that is immoral, thin blue line stuff. It's difficult to justify even given your theological claims.

Not turning them in is not theologically justified, and when it is the thin blue line kind of crap, everyone (ought to) know it is wrong. But the theology of forgiveness does explain how it isn't an easy decision for some people to make, and how some priests might have believed they were making the right decision when it really wasn't.

The downside of forgiveness is that it sometimes makes people gullible.
posted by gjc at 7:46 AM on March 5, 2011


I have a recurring daydream about this.

Cripes at first I thought you meant this.
posted by yoHighness at 8:16 AM on March 5, 2011


glc, ever hear of the Reformation?
posted by whuppy at 8:21 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, I AM doing this: defending the good things about the church, in the hopes that it balances out the simple-minded bigotry from people like you

I'm sure that will cause the child molesters and their defenders in the hierarchy to rethink their ways. Kudos!
posted by bjrubble at 8:37 AM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


Peter McDermott: If paedophiles are mentally ill, then gays are as well.

If the only evidence of mental illness is that someone has a form of sexual desire that socially disapproved of, well I'm sorry, but you'd be locking up a hell of a lot of people.


What. The. Fuck. You're comparing a consenual, loving relationship with physical and emotional trauma. Homosexuality is a form of a relationship, while pedophelia is a form of abuse. The only similarity between the two is that they're not Hetero-relationships. But, while we're going off that basis, poker-buddies, best friends, and you and whoever checks you out at the store is also a non-hetero relationship. So, should we all incarcerate them, too?
posted by shesaysgo at 8:49 AM on March 5, 2011 [2 favorites]


What. The. Fuck. You're comparing a consenual, loving relationship with physical and emotional trauma. Homosexuality is a form of a relationship, while pedophelia is a form of abuse.

You're comparing the manifestations of the sexual desires. I think Peter McDermott was just talking about the desires themselves. If a pedophile could be sated with nothing but virtual pornography, and you could guarantee that s/he would never touch or even leer at an actual child, would you still call it a form of abuse?
posted by bjrubble at 9:01 AM on March 5, 2011


And the Church is wrong on other topics too, notably homosexuality and the role of women, but, again if you abandon it to the fuckheads, the fuckheads win by default, and I don't really think that the spiritual home of a billion people should be in the hands of the fuckheads

That's not how the Church works. Be a bad Catholic if you must be a Catholic, but there's no fighting in the trenches on this point. The laity don't get a vote on doctrine, except to vote with their feet -- something the current and former popes have encouraged heretics like you and apostates like me to do. I sympathize with the difficulty in leaving, and I don't fault people who don't, but I will only buy "I'm staying to save the Church!" from someone who actually has power to influence the theology.
posted by Marty Marx at 10:34 AM on March 5, 2011 [4 favorites]


Comment: While people molesting children are very bad people, they are also mentally ill people who should be jailed and then treated.

Peter's response: If paedophiles are mentally ill, then gays are as well.

By this, it's logical to assume that Peter's definition of a paedophile, in this context at least, is someone who molests children. So, yes, his comparison is absurd. If he was talking about someone who only fantasizes, then it depends.
If the pedophile's fantasize about harming the child, intentionally, if they get off on the child's fear or confusion or stolen innocence or the physical trauma that's inevatible when you rape someone, then I still stand when I say that his comparison is absurd and wrong, and that these pedophiles are still mentally ill, even though they don't act on their urges. Because they get off on the destruction of another human being.
If, by some chance, the pedophile fantasizes about having a loving, nurturing, consensual relationship with a child. Then yes, I'll agree with Peter. But neither the context of the comment, his response, nor the original subject which we're discussing point to the fact he was referring to that kind of relationship.
posted by shesaysgo at 11:20 AM on March 5, 2011


What. The. Fuck. You're comparing a consenual, loving relationship with physical and emotional trauma. Homosexuality is a form of a relationship, while pedophelia is a form of abuse.

I somewhat take issue with looking at homosexuality as equivalent to some loving, nurturing relationship, which makes as much sense as saying heterosexuality does the same thing. Homosexuality merely explains what attracts who to what. There is plenty of homosexual trauma, there is plenty of loveless homosexual relationships, there are plenty of physical and emotional homosexual abuse. Do not somehow sanctify homosexuality as always wholesome in and of itself. I don't think homosexual relationships are somehow defiling, but if they're good, they're good because of the relationship part. Homosexual is just the attraction within the relationship.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:10 PM on March 5, 2011


>>I somewhat take issue with looking at homosexuality as equivalent to some loving, nurturing relationship, which makes as much sense as saying heterosexuality does the same thing. Homosexuality merely explains what attracts who to what. There is plenty of homosexual trauma, there is plenty of loveless homosexual relationships, there are plenty of physical and emotional homosexual abuse. Do not somehow sanctify homosexuality as always wholesome in and of itself. I don't think homosexual relationships are somehow defiling, but if they're good, they're good because of the relationship part. Homosexual is just the attraction within the relationship.

You're right, not all homosexual relationships are as I stated. But the point is, homosexual relationships have the possibility to be all of those wonderful things, whereas pedophilic ones do not. So, yeah, some homo-realtionships can be labeled as abuse, but pedophilic relationships are inherently abusive, and so I don't think you can draw the logical conclusion that if pedophiles are mentally ill, then so are homosexuals.
posted by shesaysgo at 1:30 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


If the only evidence of mental illness is that someone has a form of sexual desire that socially disapproved of, well I'm sorry, but you'd be locking up a hell of a lot of people.

I'm guessing that some proportion are just really comfortable dehumanizing others and treating them as objects.


I understood Peter McDermott's comment to mean that sexually abusing children is not a mental illness that just "happens" to someone like cancer, but rather extremely immoral behavior that shouldn't be down-played by appeals to sickness. And hence that pedophiles deserve punishment, not therapy. This may not be what was intended, nor do I really agree with such a binary view of sexual immorality, but that's what I got from the comment.

On another note: there's been a number of posts reiterating that it's the repeated cover-ups that make the child abuse situation in the RCC so shockingly heinous. You'd think that with all the bad press, and especially about such an emotional issue, Church officials would be busting their ass to show that they don't tolerate this sort of thing. So why aren't they? Are they too incompetent to force offending priests out? Too hubristic to think they'll get caught? Too clannish to ever desert one of their own? Why do these cover-ups keep happening?
posted by DLWM at 1:38 PM on March 5, 2011


"gjc: you could have saved us all a lot of time and just written, "I intend to do nothing whatsoever about this.""

"This is your opportunity to clearly say what you intend to do, if anything."

lupus_yonderboy, your presence in this thread has so far been very loud, very angry, but ultimately very empty. What do you intend to do about Catholic child abuse? This is aside from raging at your fellow mefites. The Catholic hierarchy seems quite content to see criticisms of it as simply manifestations of anti-Catholic bias and to be honest looking at this thread, one of our better ones on the topic even, I'm not sure I can blame them for the confusion.

I'm sorry for my contribution to the who abuses more children derail but I have yet to see a halfway valid quantitative analysis showing that the confirmed or calculated number of child abusing Catholic clergy is truly greater than their Protestant counterparts. I don't think anyone has actually collected the data necessary to make conclusions like yours, but you seemed so sure I wondered if you knew of a source I've missed.
posted by Blasdelb at 2:24 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


> What do you intend to do about Catholic child abuse?

Simple enough - I don't give the Catholic church or any of the numerous businesses it runs a penny of my money or my support in any way. If everyone else did this the Church would fold up overnight.

But I'm not the one supporting this institution in the first place.

Will even one supporter of the Catholic Church tell us what they intend to do?

And regarding "everyone else does it too" - can anyone provide examples of other churches whose hierarchies have covered up for child molestation? There are numerous examples for the Catholic Church supplied above, more are easily found.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 4:26 PM on March 5, 2011 [3 favorites]


If everyone else did this the Church would fold up overnight.

Have you ever heard of a bank? Do you have any idea just how much money the church has? Apparently not. I'll never forget my dad telling me his business partner spotted my high school from a mile away when they were flying (private plane, low to the ground) over town because, "Copper roofs; who else can afford them"?

Hope this is cathartic for you.
posted by yerfatma at 7:26 PM on March 5, 2011


Not sure why you included that last sentence. Your comment was great and had value until you made it all "hope you're getting out of this what you need".

MetaFilter works best when it's not directed at that level.
posted by hippybear at 10:35 PM on March 5, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Have you ever heard of a bank? Do you have any idea just how much money the church has?

Yes, I have indeed heard of a bank (I assume you're being sarcastic). Yes, I understand that the Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations on the planet. I felt it was perhaps rude to point out that the Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations on the planet and yet has some of the poorest worshippers.

But if people stopped supporting them, stopped showing up to their services, stopped putting their children in the care of their priests, then the organization would fold - whether or not they had more money than Jesus. Is that clear enough for you?

> Hope this is cathartic for you.

It isn't my kids who are being molested!

I'm simply intolerant of corrupt systems. I believe that we're in for a rough couple of decades because pretty well every system in our culture is rife with corruption. I believe that it's gotten a lot worse since I was younger (and I was more idealistic then, even!) - for example, I worked on Wall Street in the 80s and people talked about ethics and meant it, Michael Milken went to jail for crimes that were tiny compared to the massive crimes that went on in the last few years (which as you know were never punished).

But these discussions always end the same way: "Everyone else does it, and we're not going to do one thing to change this."

Look at gjc's comment (which I note now has 9 favorites) which is supposed to be an answer to "what are you going to do about this?"

He appears to claim that boycotting the Catholic Church is the same as boycotting God(!) and that, apparently, he is therefore going to do nothing about it personally, and keep supporting the Church. He believes:

"And so while ultimately the right answer is for the church to ruthlessly excise these rapists and molesters from their ranks, to let them pay for their crimes and to continue to minister to them while they are in jail; in practice it is difficult to have the clarity to be able to do that. It is something the church ABSOLUTELY needs to do a better job of training their people on."

So he's going to do nothing. None of the other nine people who favorited him are going to do anything, not even apparently sending a stiff letter to their priest - and the Church isn't supposed to do anything except "do a better job of training their people" (as that will convince child rapists and the people who hide them to change what they do!)

Am I supposed to be able to respect that?!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:44 AM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Am I supposed to be able to respect that?!

You don't have to do much of anything. You are in a position where nothing is required of you and so you do nothing. Which is fine, until you start lambasting people who are doing something else that has about the same effect as the nothing that you're doing save for the smug moral superiority. If you wish, you may or may not choose to respect the course of action (or inaction) gjc is performing—both coincidentally having the same effect on bringing down the Catholic Church or preventing the abuse of children.
posted by Lord Chancellor at 12:51 AM on March 6, 2011


> You don't have to do much of anything.

Hmm, it does come down to that every time - "We're perfectly happy with the way things are, we don't see the need to do anything, and you should mind your own business."

Good luck with that strategy!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:33 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Back when I was a little Catholic, I used to ask the normal sort of rules-testing questions, and one of them was "What happens if there's no priest to say Mass on Sunday?". I was told that the congregation would hold a service, but it wouldn't be as good as an actual Mass, and God would understand that they were doing the best they could under the circumstances. I think I was told stories of Catholics in China and communist Russia who were forbidden from celebrating openly, and had no local priest, but held secret services anyway. If I were a Catholic in Philadelphia right now, I'd probably be holding alternate services and telling the heirarchy that it's because I didn't acknowledge the authority of the 37 pedo priests or the people who put them in charge of congregations. That might not be doctrinally correct, but it'd certainly get attention while allowing the lay community to still get the advantages of meeting with their local group.
posted by harriet vane at 4:06 AM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


I believe that we're in for a rough couple of decades because pretty well every system in our culture is rife with corruption.

Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up. As a fellow programmer, I've noticed the profession tends to bring in a lot of people who think life is black and white and all problems could be easily solved if only the sheep were as smart as the speaker (e.g., "Just quit attending the church. Problem solved. Now as for the economy, back to the gold standard! Next question, I'm on a roll here!") It bespeaks both a naiveté about the workings of humans in groups. Take 10 minutes off from frothing about the Catholic Church and consider why you're up at 4am frothing about the Catholic Church. Is it really righteous indignation that burns so bright you can't get to sleep?

I felt it was perhaps rude to point out that the Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations on the planet and yet has some of the poorest worshippers.

Again, this is either disingenuous or stupid. Churches without money can't send missionaries to poor places to generate new worshipers. And all faiths are going to have a decent amount of poor people as hope is free and some comfort when life sucks.
posted by yerfatma at 4:08 AM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


> > I believe that we're in for a rough couple of decades because pretty well every system in our culture is rife with corruption.

> Yeah, I think that pretty much sums it up.

Clearly, so do I. I welcome a rebuttal of my claims - I'd be very happy to be wrong.

> As a fellow programmer, I've noticed the profession tends to bring in a lot of people who think life is black and white and all problems could be easily solved if only the sheep were as smart as the speaker (e.g., "Just quit attending the church. Problem solved. Now as for the economy, back to the gold standard! Next question, I'm on a roll here!")

I believe nothing of the sort - please don't put words into my mouth. I didn't, in fact, propose any solution at all to the issue. When asked what I personally was doing I replied.

In fact, I get flak in my personal and professional life by rejecting such black and white solutions. "What about a mixed strategy?" is a catch-phase for me.

What I believe, and what I've stated above, is that Catholics should do something about this issue rather than nothing at all. That the idea that Catholics should actually do something to prevent their children from being raped is so very controversial says a lot - but not about me.

> Take 10 minutes off from frothing about the Catholic Church and consider why you're up at 4am frothing about the Catholic Church.

It was afternoon here (Indonesia) when I wrote this.

> > I felt it was perhaps rude to point out that the Catholic Church is one of the richest organizations on the planet and yet has some of the poorest worshippers.

> Again, this is either disingenuous or stupid.

Is it too much as to ask to avoid personal attacks? I guess not. I believe such gratuitous insults say a great deal about you, and nothing at all about me - particularly considering your subsequent statements are, I believe, demonstrably false to the fact.

> Churches without money can't send missionaries to poor places to generate new worshipers.

Not every church has missionaries - consider for example Judaism, where you are actually supposed to discourage people from joining, but there are numerous other examples.

> And all faiths are going to have a decent amount of poor people as hope is free and some comfort when life sucks.

Again, this simply isn't true. Consider Scientology, which is well-known to throw people out when they run out of money. If you don't believe they're a religion, try some of the Nichiren Buddhism groups, or some of the caste-based Hindu groups.

There are other groups like Quakers or America's Episcopalian Church which, while they don't throw out people who are poor, are distinctly affluent in demographic.

To summarize, I simply believe that Catholics should do something to protect their children from sexual predators in clerical garb - particularly since the Church itself has systematically protected those very predators. That this believe has engendered such anger, that not one Catholic has agreed with me, makes me very sad for your children.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 6:32 AM on March 6, 2011


"Simple enough - I don't give the Catholic church or any of the numerous businesses it runs a penny of my money or my support in any way. If everyone else did this the Church would fold up overnight."

That must be very easy for you.

You seem upset that anyone could appreciate, or find notable, gjc's reasoned and helpful comment and that our community likes hearing the perspective of the few Catholics you haven't scared away yet. Perhaps you misunderstand what MetaFilter is for?

I for one am thankful for the several Catholic Mefites who have come to this thread and enlightened me despite you demanding of them every third comment that they fit their complex understanding of the Catholic Church into your two dimensional opinion of it.
posted by Blasdelb at 6:45 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


yerfatma - did you make up that poem? It sounds like the verse of a great song.
posted by kmartino at 7:16 AM on March 6, 2011


> > "Simple enough - I don't give the Catholic church or any of the numerous businesses it runs a penny of my money or my support in any way. If everyone else did this the Church would fold up overnight."

> That must be very easy for you.

As I have explained above, I made that comment only to respond to someone who asked what I was doing to stop the problem. I regret making that comment - not that it isn't completely true, nor that it wasn't answer to the question, but a better answer was, "It isn't my problem. It isn't my kids being raped. I'm not worshiping in a Church that has systematically protected child molesters for decades."

> You seem upset that anyone could appreciate, or find notable, gjc's reasoned and helpful comment and that our community likes hearing the perspective of the few Catholics you haven't scared away yet.

I read his long argument, and more than once. He explained why he should do nothing, and why the Church should do, basically, nothing. All the rationalization in the world isn't going to change that.

If I'm two-dimensional for believing that an organization that systematically protects child molesters should change, should be forced to change, then I will wear that banner proudly.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:50 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


@kmartino I suppose so, though a 12 pack of Hoegaarden should get co-author credit.
posted by yerfatma at 8:26 AM on March 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, too, don't understand the argument that forced celibacy has something to do with this. If so, why wouldn't they be indulging their urges with adults. I mean, any way you slice it, you're breaking your vow. I suppose a child might be easier to control, but the fallout if one was caught would be so much worse (or at least it should be) and I would think the very idea of having sex with a child would be repugnant to the great majority of adult men.

There's something else going on here.
posted by Jess the Mess at 8:45 AM on March 6, 2011


I also am bugged by the "it's the fault of celibacy" argument. The idea that man is a ravenous animal and that he will have sex with someone or something no matter what doesn't hold any more water than the outmoded argument that homosexuals had uncontrollable urges that would attack anyone—gay or straight, adult or child—around them. Some people take vows of celibacy, which is totally fine. Even when they break them, it's usually with adults. This is an uncommon, but certainly not a rare occurrence. You don't hear about it because a priest having sex with an adult is not exactly breaking news in this day and age and will probably just result in the priest getting reprimanded (or defrocked if this just keeps on happening). It's actually nice to have a group where socially people don't expect you to have sex, make babies, and all that. So, yeah, don't pretend that if I don't have sex for a year that the semen will seep into my brain and cause me to go insane, attacking everyone around me in an overflow of lust.

(I would actually be happy if they Catholic Church opened the priesthood for married folks, but not because the celibate priests are wrong. Rather, I think that the Church and the those in it would benefit from both types of people. I do not think that married priests will be any less capable of abuse though.)
posted by Lord Chancellor at 10:00 AM on March 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


There have been countless thousands of substantiated sexual abuse claims by Catholic clergy. And far fewer by Protestants.

lupus_yonderboy, who not only makes this ridiculous claim without citation, but when asked for one, replies:

Given all the cases shows in the original posting, if you're claiming that there are many more such stories involving Protestant ministers, then the citation needed should definitely be yours.

That's fun! Can I play?

"Given all the stories in the late 1800's of black committing violent crimes, clearly blacks are far more violent as a race than whites... and if you disagree, YOU have to provide the proof, because my claims are based on the solid science of who-said-what!"

Here's a citation, lupus_yonderboy.
Philip Jenkins, author of "Pedophiles and Priests" found no evidence that the incidence of child molestation among Roman Catholic priests was any greater than within other Christian denominations.

In fact, such a claim as you made is notoriously difficult to prove, since "Protestant clergy" are not contained within any real umbrella.

However, a more cogent, less-Catholic-bating question is: "Do Catholic priests sexually assault minors more often than others do?" Answer: no. Catholic priests are accused at a rate of about 4%; the general US populace at somewhere between 1-5% (I don't understand why this statistic is so hard to find!.

The issue is not that Catholic priests are inherently more likely to bugger boys. The issue is that the Catholic Church is more likely to successfully hide and protect these sex offenders, and regularly does so, and has only shown an interest in changing after intense public criticism coupled with the threat of serious financial consequences.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:09 PM on March 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee:
But Catholics are a distinct minority amongst American Christians..."

Um ... Catholics are the largest single denomination in America:

From Adherents.com, 2004 membership estimates & percentage of population:

Catholic 71,796,719 24.5%


You've accidentally proven his point. "Largest group" != "more than 50% of the whole". Catholics are both the largest denomination, and a minority of all Christians.

Also, you seem to be suggesting that unmarried people and/or homosexuals are more likely to molest children. That assertion is false.

True. I can't find the damned source now, but I just ran across a stat that most sex offenders of children are heterosexual men in stable relationships.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:22 PM on March 6, 2011


Wait, wait, wait. I think it's common sense to say that celibacy is a likely factor in the rampant abuse of children among Catholic clergy (though marriage is by no means a guarantee of a sexual outlet),

desuetude, "common sense" is often at odds with the truth, and is again, in this case.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:56 PM on March 6, 2011


I cannot imagine myself uttering a sentence that goes "Yes $ORGANIZATION did intentionally, systematically and at all levels cover up evidence of child abuse but I'm still a member because..."
posted by Skorgu at 6:35 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Honestly, its the same story over and over again. Priests molesting children and a subsequent coverup by the church authorities such that abuse in some cases is allowed to continue. This is not the first, but the 6th (7th, 10th I've lost count) major scandal involving this same issue. It is not regional, it is happening all over the world. I sincerely hope that this is the proverbial straw and the laity is going to take the church back and change things from the inside. But as an outsider, can you appreciate how hollow those words are beginning to ring?
posted by batou_ at 6:37 PM on March 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


desuetude, "common sense" is often at odds with the truth, and is again, in this case.

IAmBroom, if you react to each dependent clause separately, you're going to miss the point.
posted by desuetude at 9:12 PM on March 6, 2011


I'm nominally catholic by baptism but through circumstances have worshiped in protestant churches for most of my life but the more meaningful aspects of my faith these days are informed by catholic theology. I say this as a little background.

Why do catholics remain hinged to such an imperfect church? How can the church be Holy while its members are so unholy? These are related questions.

The catholic church is a unique institution that is really guided by the hand of God through turbulence, but not guided such that it doesn't falter. Like any sizable organization you have some stand out members who inspire and others who shame you by association. At the end of the day you decide that there are some real living saints among you in the church and you can choose to meditate and learn from their example.

To presume that a person would just walk away from the church implies that that there is no beauty or truth worth preserving in the institution. Those who stay can, and I argue are, part of the solution.
posted by dgran at 1:03 PM on March 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Meanwhile, after lying and stonewalling and saying that there are no priests who committed sexual crimes there, we have an embarrassing forced reversal:

"The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it had placed 21 priests on administrative leave from active ministry in connection with credible charges that they had sexually abused minors.

The mass suspension was one of the single most sweeping in the history of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. It follows a damning grand jury report issued Feb. 10 that accused the archdiocese of a widespread cover-up of predatory priests stretching over decades and that said as many as 37 priests remained active in the ministry despite credible allegations of sexual abuse against them."


"The announcement Tuesday was a major embarrassment for Cardinal Rigali, who, in response to the grand jury report, had initially said that there were no priests in active ministry “who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”"

The RCC tries hard not do the right thing. It's "cover up and deny". Whatever concession you get, you have to pry with all the force of the law that can be mustered. Getting kids away from the clutches of these pedophiles is like pulling teeth.
posted by VikingSword at 4:14 PM on March 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


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