Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sex abuse scandal in Catholic church is about governance not molestation

If you are interested in the some facts about sexual abuse by Catholic Priests you might want to read this article in Psychology Today published March 24, 2010 entitled, "Six important points you don't hear about regarding clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic church."

The first point is:

According to the best available data (which is pretty good mostly coming from a comprehensive report by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004 as well as several other studies), 4% of Catholic priests in the USA sexually victimized minors during the past half century. No evidence has been published at this time that states that this number is higher than clergy from other religious traditions. The 4% figure is lower than school teachers (at 5%) during the same time frame and perhaps as much as half of the numbers of the general population of men. Research states that 17% of American women and 12% of American men were sexually violated when they were children by an adult. Sexual victimization is tragically fairly common in the general population but luckily these numbers have been dropping in recent years.

Are Catholic Priests held to a higher standard than other males in authority positions over children in the United States?


Is this fair?

Yes, because they choose to set themselves and above the people they serve claiming to be Jesus' reprentative on earth and endowed with special powers from God. Exploiting people naieve enough to believe this nonsense leaves a thoughtful person to wonder about how religious belief leads people to behave in dysfunctional and perverted ways. But, of course, the same things happen in schools, in health care settings, and among criminals justice personnel from correction officers to patrol officers on the beat.

The thing that is scandalizing and highlights the hypocrisy is not the crime itself but the cover-up by the hierarchy and other segments of our society to justify their secrecy as protecting the victims and their families and neighbors from scandal.

Is this secrecy justified?

To protect the church and the perpetrators, of course.

To protect the faithful from a loss of religious innocence? Absolutely not!

The problem with the Roman Catholic church is not that it harbors a few bad apples among its professional ranks who exploit those they profess to serve, but because the governance of the church is corrupt up to and including the pope if we can believe the latest news reports.

Does the same thing go on in other religious denominations?

Yes of course, all the time, but those religions don't pose quite so arrogantly and many, independent churches, are not accountable to any hierarchy at all. They claim to answer only to God. The god of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, Ted Haggard, George Rekers, and the beat goes on.

Only the Unitarian Universalists claim to believe in the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within its congregations in in society at large. This is a messy and often less than satisfying process, but at least UUs pay lip service to it which is more than most religions who claim some sort of divine right to govern in the name of their god.


  1. You seem to want leniency not justice for 'unfairly' accused child rapists just because they're Roman Catholics based on statistics that show other categories of adults also commit sex crimes against children. I don't think that ship will sail.

    You also wrote: They claim to answer only to God. The god of Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, Jimmy Swaggart, Pat Robertson, [snip]. How many Gods are there? Somehow, I like to think any divine, omnipotent, master up in the sky would disapprove of child rape. But maybe that's just the way I was brought up.

  2. Priests should obey the standards set by Jesus.
    In Mark 9 Jesus said (New Jerusalem translation):
    42 'But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone hung round his neck.
    43 And if your hand should be your downfall, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that can never be put out.
    45 And if your foot should be your downfall, cut it off; it is better for you enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
    47 And if your eye should be your downfall, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell
    48 where their worm will never die nor their fire be put out.

    See also Matthew 18: 6-10, and if you still doubt Jesus' meaning, please check out what Jesus says in Matthew 19:12:
    12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.

    Even if a few pedophile priests had been castrated, everybody, including the castrated pedophile priests, would have been much better off now. Mind you in Mark 3:29 Jesus says:
    29 but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

    Don’t you think a priest who molests kids in church or rectory blasphemes against the Holy Spirit?

    Please note that this order is specific and applies only to those who cause the downfall of believing kids in Jesus’ name. It seems not to apply to a priest who molests nonebelieving kids while masquerading as a lay person. It certainly does not apply to a lay person offending another adult.

  3. Only the Unitarian Universalists claim to believe in the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within its congregations in in society at large.

    We certainly highlight the right of conscience and the democratic process in our Fifth Principle in a more visible way than most churches. However, I think that most churches in America have a belief in the right of conscience. They just do not all believe in the rightness of individual conscience. And for democracy, I think that most American churches that are not structured on the episcopal model of authority practice some legitimate form of democratic process. There may be complex shibboleths and cultural restraints on its practice, and no rights and protections may be given to minorities within the ranks of some churches. But voting is central for deciding doctrinal matters when there is conflict, governance issues, conference/ associational issues, and deciding how the money is spent.

    And the people whose persons and positions are not honored in this exercise in democracy have the unequivocal right to vote with their wallets and their feet, which more and more do.

    In short, though the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process are specially enshrined as a covenanted principle of the member congregations of the UUA, they are not unique or special to UUism but are part of the American landscape in which we participate. They are, essentially, an American shibboleth.