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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Catholic Sex Scandals, Part III

In part three of "Catholic Sex Scandals" I am addressing the "talk is cheap, when are they going to DO something about it" criticism.

Efforts To Combat Clergy Sexual Abuse Against Minors: A Chronology [USA]
U. S. Bishops Approve Charter to Protect Children and Young People
Restructured Committee on Sexual Abuse Announced
Sex Abuse Committee Releases Preliminary Survey Results
Mixed Commission Ends Work In Rome on Sexual Abuse Charter
Essential Norms for Diocesan/Eparchial Policies Dealing with Allegations of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests or Deacons
Guidelines for Implementation of Safe Environment Programs
Training Held on 'Essential Norms'; Vatican Official Took Part
The John Jay Study results [comprehensive study commissioned by the USCCB]
Vatican Report on U.S. Seminaries
Pope blasts Irish bishops, orders Vatican probe
Vatican urges psychological tests on future priests
Guidelines for the use of psychology in the admission and formation of candidates for the priesthood
After an Accusation, Here is What Happens at the Vatican
A Papal Conversion [Article on changing procedures under Cardinal Benedict]
Vatican Publishes Procedures for Sex Abuse Cases
Vatican shows new transparency with online guide


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55 comments:

madgebaby said...

I really do hope that all this isn't just reactive legal-ese. I hope and pray that things really do change as a result. I also hope and pray that the laity of the Roman Catholic church hold their leaders accountable and never again excuse or defend abuse of any sort, and I hope that no victim is ever slapped or abused for reporting abuse to their family or another person.

Elena said...

THE LAITY NEVER DID EXCUSE OR DEFEND ABUSE! THE LAITY WERE THE VICTIMS HERE.

you must do a bang up job as a victims advocate...

cdenio said...

I think some are forgetting that the most common abusers, I believe (correct me if I'm wrong), are fathers and stepfathers. So where is your celibacy argument then? The Church is doing all that it can to right these wrongs. A couple of the people posting here are not really interested in any information that does not fuel the fire of their anti-Catholicism. Kelly and Elena - never stop doing what you are doing, because I'm sure many who do not post are listening and learning with an open mind.

madgebaby said...

You are getting a bit nasty, Elena.

Your defensiveness is an example of the laity not holding the hierarchy accountable. Many victims were assaulted or ridiculed by the first people they reported the abuse to, their parents or other clergy or laity. How a person is treated when they disclose is very important to how thy heal afterwards. For many survivors, the reaction to their disclosure was more painful than the actual abuse.

Elena said...

You are getting a bit nasty, Elena.

I'll try harder.

Your defensiveness is an example of the laity not holding the hierarchy accountable.

If you bothered to read this blog or my other blog in any depth you would know that I am very critical of the bishops on many issues, past and present. I hold them totally accountable for this and many other things. You are trying to extrapolate things that have no basis in reality.

Many victims were assaulted or ridiculed by the first people they reported the abuse to, their parents or other clergy or laity.

Ok so? None of the Catholics on this blog are ridiculing victims. And if anyone messed with one of my kids they would live to regret it. I promise you.

How a person is treated when they disclose is very important to how thy heal afterwards. For many survivors, the reaction to their disclosure was more painful than the actual abuse.

I understand that. It's a strawman for this discussion however as NO ONE is attacking or ridiculing the victims.

Christine said...

Elena's not being nasty - you're being purposely obtuse, not to mention patronizing to act like you are giving brand-new information that people should be protected when they disclose abuse. In your one-track mind, Elena's capital letters equal "the laity not holding the hierarchy accountable". If Elena said "Hi, how are you", it would be yet another example of "the laity not holding the hierarchy accountable". Puh-leeze.

madgebaby said...

I think you are taking all of this way too personally; historically the church has not treated victims well, has not admitted mistakes, and currently the Pope is only apologizing for the actions of others and is not really taking responsibility for what has happened. (and yes, since he is the Pope, he is the person who should do that just like John Paul did around issues of how Jewish people were treated)

It's interesting to post on such a controversial topic and then get all huffy and whip up a persecution complex when challenged. Gotta wonder why someone would do this.

This was interesting when it was an actual discussion, but since it has turned juvenile it is no longer worth my time. It's really too bad since it is such an important topic.

Kelly said...

FYI- I deleted an Asian spam comment. Just so no one thinks I was deleting a poster that we disagreed with.

Barbara C. said...

madgebabby wrote: Many victims were assaulted or ridiculed by the first people they reported the abuse to, their parents or other clergy or laity.

What you have to keep in perspective is the time period in which the majority of abuse happened, the 50's and 60's. People in general could not conceive of a authority figures, especially clergy, doing such a thing. There was a general mentality of children and parents not questioning other adults in authority, whether it was your preacher or your school teacher. This was also a period where spousal abuse and rape were often ignored.

Today we wouldn't think twice about kicking some ass if our kids so much as hinted that someone touched them inappropriately, but in the 50's and 60's it was inconceivable to the majority of the population that it could happen. This is why parents and other clergy often dismissed the claims of victims. (In fact, this is still a common problem in some other cultures that highly revere elders and authority figures.)

This is one of the most aggravating things about how stories of abuse by Catholic clergy are handled. (1) They are portrayed as a continuing widespread problem when most of it occurred 20, 30, or 40 years ago. The cases just started coming to light in the past ten years. (2) The response of parents and clergy are held by the standards and understanding of today rather than that of 30 years ago. (3) Not that any abuse should be tolerated, but the number of recent cases each year are extremely small (like under double digits), especially considering the size of the Catholic church. But the mainstream media and detractors of the Church like to conveniently overlook this fact because it serves their on purposes.

Kelly said...

Madge, since this post was about the actions taken by the church, I'll address some of the comments you made on that topic on the other threads here, so that everything is easier to find in the future.

As far as the extreme measures to teach a sunday school class, all of that has been standard of practice in my denomination and all the other mainline denominations for at least a decade, and we've not been making news about clergy sexual abuse scandals. Camps and scouts have been doing that stuff for more like 20 years. None of that is in any way extreme, unfortunately.

You know what? All of that has been standard in the Catholic Church since the late 1980's-early 1990's, too. You are partially correct when you say that some of this is reactive leagal-ese.

Most of the really big abuse cases that came out in 1999 (iirc), beginning with the Boston Globe articles took place from the late 1950's-the late 1970's. In the 80's and 90's, most diocese began adopting practices such as background checks, fingerprinting, etc. The seminary admission procedures were changed, psychological testing was introduced.

When the stories began to break in 1999, people were angry. Just like you, then demanded action. We can't just stutter and around and mumble apologies. We must DO something to prove that we are sincere. The problem is, most of the abuse was decades old, and policies were already put into place.

USCCB is a lot like the Southern Baptist Convention. It doesn't really have much authority. By 2002, they had put out a lot of documents and put diocean requirements into place to placate what people were calling for, but again, this was rubber stamping what was already in place.

See this snippet from the inplementation report the USCCB put out:

Archbishop Flynn said that dioceses were able to respond to the Charter so quickly because much of it was based on steps already taken in many dioceses.

"The Charter is part of an on-going process " the same process that led to the enunciation of the original five principles for handling cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy in 1992 and to the work of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse which was set up the next year," Archbishop Flynn said.

The five principles referred to were first stated by the Bishops" Conference president at the bishops" June 1992 meeting. They were: 1) Respond promptly to all allegations of abuse where there is reasonable belief that abuse has occurred; 2) if such an allegation is supported by sufficient evidence, relieve the alleged offender promptly of his ministerial duties and refer him for appropriate medical evaluation and intervention; 3) comply with the obligations of civil law as regards reporting of the incident and cooperating with the investigation; 4) reach out to the victims and their families and communicate sincere commitment to their spiritual and emotional well-being; and 5) within the confines of respect for privacy of the individuals involved, deal as openly as possible with the members of the community.


Bishops run diocese by themselves. They don't answer to the USCCB, and the Vatican doesn't like to interfere. The reason the Vatican has been getting more involved is because they are realizing that they will be held accountable, even if the church system doesn't really work that way.

Look at it this way, while governor, Huckabee issued a pardon for a man who would later go on to shoot four policeman. Huckabee (the bishop) should be held responsible for this decision. Whoever was president at that time (the pope) was not held responsible, because he doesn't have that sort of oversight over the individual decisions of governors.

But people don't think the Catholic Church works that way, and they are holding the Pope accountable, and the Vatican is *finally* starting to pick up on that, and institute policies, which you see towards the bottom of my collection of links.

madgebaby said...

That all makes a great deal of sense to me. And I know that the publicity of scandal takes a life of its' own with our 24 hour news cycle and that is different than the actual events and what is being done about them.

I also get that the news media knows nothing about religion generally--the Roman Catholic church is not singled out in that regard. When I read things about Christianity or my own denomination in the news or see it on the television I hope they know more about foreign events and politics than they do the church.

Kelly said...

What would help? third party audit of all records, a vehicle for reporting and investigation of abuse that sidesteps all current ordained leadership, less defensiveness and less of a persecution complex. Those things would help.

Well, there is the John Jay study, which I already linked to.

There is an annual third party audit, which is done by the Gavin Group. See this diocese, as an example.

The two diocese where I have lived publish a similar rundown every year in the diocean paper, telling the results of the audit, any abuse claims made during the year, action taken, etc.

The lay run National Review Board has been formed since 2002.

So do we pass now?

madgebaby said...

That diocese really is doing prevention and response right. They're a great example for all churches, not just the Roman Catholic church.

Dr MikeyMike said...

I think you are taking all of this way too personally; historically the church has not treated victims well, has not admitted mistakes, and currently the Pope is only apologizing for the actions of others and is not really taking responsibility for what has happened. (and yes, since he is the Pope, he is the person who should do that just like John Paul did around issues of how Jewish people were treated)

What I find interesting is that you continue to say this after Kelly, Elena, and the powers that be post link after link refuting this claim, showing that the Church has indeed apologized and taken steps to right the wrongs. Also, your mention of John Paul and his relations with the Jewish community further contradicts your statements.

I suppose the Church isn't doing enough or apologizing enough to *your* standards. I would hate to be your child and throw a baseball through a neighbor's window. I can imagine you selling me to a Somalian pirate or something as penance. :P~~~

madgebaby said...

The only thing I can suggest, Dr Mikey Mike, is that you read the rest of the comments on the three posts. Your vitriol is really unwarranted.

Dr MikeyMike said...

Amazingly enough, madge, I have been reading them for the past 3 days. It just amazes me that after example after example, you still claim that the Church and its hierarchy has done little in terms of apology or healing. You totally mistake me: it's not vitriol but utter amusement.

I akin it to the members of the purported Flat-Earth society: you could show them real-time video of the world turning, and they'll still claim that its not enough to convince them.

I ponder: are you really just wanting to judge the Church? Do you really fear/hate the RCC enough to accept an apology, or (and maybe this is a stretch) to look at both sides of the story?

Unashamed said...

Actually Dr. Mikeymike, madge's last few comments seemed rather concilliatory and to my mind seem to indicate that she is coming around. This dialogue has been long and at times a bit rancourous, but it seems to have been successful in fostering better understanding - and isn't that the point?

Though the church has made laudable efforts to end abuse and ensure the safety of its members, the fact is that it was badly mishandled (and that is being charitable) for many, many years. That, unfortunately, leaves a bad taste and you can hardly blame others for having difficulty in overcoming their skepticism.

Please, understand that I say this as one who is sympathetic to my Catholic brethren and the pain that this entire situation has caused, but not all critcism of the church is unfounded, nor is it always Catholic-bashing.

Peace be with you.

madgebaby said...

Ummm, to say that I'm "coming around" is a bit patronizing, don't you think? I think that we've all come to some common ground and that is the point of this sort of dialogue (that and avoiding doing laundry;)).

I never said that there were no apologies offered--just that they were meaningless without real responsibility taking and without teeth. I never said that no lay person or clergy person responded appropriately to abuse allegations, just that there was a pattern of behavior that minimized and covered up abuse. I never said that things were hopeless or that there had been no improvement, because clearly there has been bits of both.

We agree on the fact that the seminary culture contributed to the generations of abuse, and that seems to be improving. We agree on the fact that this has nothing to do with celibacy, and that some diocese are real models of how to be a safe faith community.

This isn't about winning or losing--it is about making the church (all churches) safe for the vulnerable. That's my only dog in this fight. I'm still taken aback that there are people who would defend the church over this goal, but I know that it can't me as simple as that.

Unashamed said...

Sheesh. I knew saying you are "coming around" was imprecise, but I didn't think I'd get slapped down for it. My point was not to say that you are now on Team Vatican, but rather that your skeptism is not entirely unwarranted and not necessarily the result of latent anti-catholism. Sorry for any offense.

Elena said...

"it is about making the church (all churches) safe for the vulnerable."

"I'm still taken aback that there are people who would defend the church over this goal"

Show of hands - who here was defending the church OVER (i.e. instead of) making the church safe for the vulnerable?

...scratching my head...

madgebaby said...

On the first post on this topic, Elena, this is what you said:

"I also don't think it's unusual for authorities to not find victims to be believable or for parents to totally trust adults in positions of authority over their kids.

I think what distinguishes this tragedy is that the mainstream media continue to drag it out every couple of years ago so that we can all take another swing at the dead horse."

That is what defending the actions of the church over and against the needs of the vulnerable sounds like. When victims hear words like that, what they really hear is "shut up, your problems are tiresome".

I'm guessing at this point that is not what you meant. Perhaps I'm holding you to a precision that you did not intend, and if so I encourage you to clarify.

Elena said...

That is what defending the actions of the church over and against the needs of the vulnerable sounds like.

My comments were in reply to your comment which was:

The distinguishing scandal in the Roman Catholic church is that the hierarchy covered up the abuse, did not believe survivors, and even parents chose to believe the priests and bishops instead of their own children.

I was not defending the church as in commending or excusing bad behavior but rather in pointing out that the church scandal isn't really that "distinguished" or different from sex scandals in other institutions, churches, cultures etc. For authorities to be believed over victims is NOT a distinguishing factor in the Catholic Church scandal. It is quite common in the world at large. I wasn't telling victims to shut up; I was pointing out that silencing victims happens every where and is certainly NOT UNIQUE to the Catholic Church scandal.

So in that context, your accusation that I was defending the church over the needs of the vulnerable is clearly out of context and wrong.

madgebaby said...

It is clear from your comments here and elsewhere that you don't see your comments as such. I can't begin to question your intent.

I can, however, react to what I read which was that you believe it is common to believe authority figures instead of believing victims and that you are tired of the church being criticized about the history of abuse and its' cover up.

I disagree with you, still, in that I do believe that the level of minimizing and cover up--HISTORICALLY--does distinguish this scandal from other similar scandals. I was not raised Roman Catholic but all the priests in my town growing up, as it turns out, were pedophiles who got moved to the backwater when they offended (where they could not receive any counseling and support and where they were totally isolated from other priests and basically everyone) That happened a lot. I don't think that there is a parallel to that behavior in the other scandals, if only because of the nature and scope of the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

Elena said...

I guess this is the stumbling block then, although I would point out that perhaps you SEE it as a bigger deal for the Catholic Church is that the media keeps dredging it up and reporting abuse cases that are decades old and that they never ever give the reforms and improvements as much press. Case in point - you were demanding an impartial investigation not knowing that there had even been one - why? Because the media covered it very sparsely.

If I had time I'm sure I could bring up some equally upsetting scandals and coverups. Watergate comes to mind although that wasn't of a sexual nature per se.

But I do think that by now you should be able to concede that in context, I was not defending the abusers in any way shape or form, I was merely trying to put it into a proper cultural, social and historical perspective.

Elena said...

I disagree with you, still, in that I do believe that the level of minimizing and cover up

On further thought, I think this is a different argument than was put up earlier. You don't seem to be disagreeing that authorities are believed over victims or that silencing victims is common period.

Your disagreement seems to be on "level" which I think is a very subjective thing. You knew of two priests who were involved. I never personally knew one that was involved and I'm a cradle catholic. Our perceptions are different.

madgebaby said...

I grew up in a small poor geographically isolated town in the buckle of the bible belt--just the sort of place a powerful Bishop might send an abusive priest a la "out of sight, out of mind". So I saw it in action, this cover up, but I didn't know what I was seeing.

One of these guys was identified by his victims after his died, the other has had charges pressed but now he looks like a kindly old man in his eighties. It's so easy to feel sympathy for them when they're old (cynicism alert).

I have no idea who among my friends was a abused but several among them have gone on to have personal problems (relationship, drug and alcohol) that could be attributed to being abused as a child in this way. Who knows. Another friend ended up divorced from her husband because, when the big scandal broke out in another city , he remembered (after years of emotional problems) that he had been abused as a young boy and his abuse had not been treated appropriately.

Another friend of mine from graduate school had to be hospitalized (seriously) for panic attacks if she entered a Catholic church for a wedding or funeral. That is another story for another time.

Devout Roman Catholics probably don't know as many of these folk because for understandable reasons they leave the church and their families just don't talk about them or their experiences or if they do it is just a sort of transferred despair about how they have "left the church". Instead of that, the church left them.

Dr MikeyMike said...

I have no idea who among my friends was a abused but several among them have gone on to have personal problems (relationship, drug and alcohol) that could be attributed to being abused as a child in this way.

Wow. I love your speculation (cynicism alert) on how many things can be linked to child abuse at the hands of priests, yet you, and I quote, "have no idea who among your friends were abused" - or were they even abused at all? 50% of marriages in the US end in divorce -- I suppose priests molested at least one partner in all of these instances. Drug use? Lots of people smoke marijuana. I guess they, too, were fondled by an errant priest. Wait! A large deal of marijuana comes from Mexico. And there are a lot of Catholics in Mexico. I smell a conspiracy.

But seriously, though - I love your angry, accusatory tone and your "loose associations" that would make a psychiatrist gleeful. This goes back to my claim that you are becoming increasingly hard to take serious. Your last post, I think, is a perfect example. And I take beef with many points that you make, especially your grand opening paragraph about isolated geography and devious bishops. Maybe I'll tackle those later.

Elena said...

Well that clears up some things madgebaby. I totally get where you're coming yet. Nonetheless in previous posts I asked for you to concede certain points and I think you can do that now.

Sue Bee said...

I belong to a church that endured a sex scandal. About 10 years ago our now-former pastor was arrested for doing something illegal, immoral and thoroughly disgusting. I know what is like to see your church along with your pastor’s mug shot on the evening news. I know what it is like to struggle for words to explain the crisis to your children. I do not wish it on anyone.

Hearing the story told, and retold on TV, the radio, the internet, and the newspapers got tiring. Fast. But had the media not broken the story, I doubt we would ever have found out about him. He was arrested in another city and, needless to say, didn’t rush home to tell the congregation. Or his wife.

As much as I understand and empathize with your frustrations regarding the endless media coverage, if the media had not broken these abuse stories nothing would have changed. No reforms would have been put in place, no apologies issued, no victim’s voices would have been heard. It is unfortunate but sometimes it takes public humiliation to change things. And yes, many innocent people get their feelings hurt in the process.

In our case there were a small number of church members who refused to believe he was guilty. They blamed the biased media coverage, the over-zealous police, and declared that the synod was on a witch hunt. A week after he was removed from the roster (defrocked) they started their own church. Yes, another protestant denomination was born - with a convicted sex offender as its leader. (The “History of our Church” page on their website is quite a hoot.)

For me it was much easier to forgive the pastor for his x-rated behavior than it has been to forgive the actions of those who were trying to protect him. It is something I still struggle with.

Dr MikeyMike said...

Thank you, Sue Bee, for sharing your experience.

madgebaby said...

Mikey Mike, you are being really personal about his. Forgive me if I don't spread the details of my friends lives out for the internet to pick at. Since you basically are calling me crazy for saying that sexual abuse of children shouldn't be covered up and minimized, I'm thinking it isn't surprising to most that I'm not willing to share identifying details of criminal investigations with you. My goodness.

So long as lay people react in mocking tones to those who share their story, the credibility of the church will be comprised, Mikey Mike. I'll be hesistant to engage in such a dialogue as this again because of your personal and insulting mockery of me and my story and I'm guessing that is your point. The more people who speak out are attacked and shut down, the less trouble for the "devout" among whom I'm sure you count yourself.

Elena, I think you need to be a bit more specific about what you think I can concede at this point. I'm not thinking that saying that there are good laypeople and priest who want the abuse to stop and stay stopped is much of a concession.

Elena said...

I think there are several things that perhaps we could now agree on.

1. That determining "level" of the scandal is subjective and...
2. In someways that level is based on personal experience but in others is also media driven.
3. And that although we disagree on the "level" of the scandal we can agree that unfortunately sexual abuse happens universally in institutions and cultures across the human experience
4. You should be able to concede that in context, neither Kelly, Barbara C or I were not defending the abusers in any way shape or form.
5. That reforms to prevent future abuse have been put in place and
6. That there have been credible audits and processes put into place outside the church authorities

madgebaby said...

this just all feels like it is minimizing the history and scope of the abuse! And to call it subjective--of course it is subjective. People don't recall and report abuse in an objective, linear fashion. To call it subjective implies that the abuse may not be really that bad, it is just my impression of it that make me (for example) think it is so bad. The preponderance of the evidence--no one seriously doubts--points to the huge magnitude of this problem. Many people are working to make it better, but we've not reached the bottom of it.

The church has been held to a higher standard than other institutions because it claims to speak for God. For many people obedience to the church means obedience to God, so for it's leaders to betry the trust of the most innocent and vulnerable is particularly egregious. I think that we all agree on that, too--surely we do.

You say you aren't defending abusers, and I have no doubt of that. I have no doubt that you are Christians of good faith, defending what you believe is true in the best way you know how.

That said, I think that it would be ideal if you could do some soul searching around the fact that in many of these comments the plight of the abused has been minimized.

Barbara C. said...

madgebaby wrote: "The church has been held to a higher standard than other institutions because it claims to speak for God."

Then why aren't all churches held to that standard? There is at least as much abuse in Protestant churches, if not more, but the Protestant churches aren't being constantly maligned and made the butt of jokes.

Sue Bee wrote: "I belong to a church that endured a sex scandal."

I am sorry that you had to go through that. And you're right that the media is capable of bringing things to light that do need to be brought into the light.

However, imagine what it would be like if the media was still putting your church in the spotlight even though what happened happened ten years ago or if they continued to act if it had just happened two months ago or that it was still happening on a regular basis. It would get even more frustrating to know that the public is being misled about the true scope of the problem to satisfy personal agendas.

madgebaby said...

I'm replying to Barbara C:

"Then why aren't all churches held to that standard?"

They are. Not all churches put there ministers in the same category as a Roman Catholic priest is placed (ie protestant ministers don't hear confessions, don't serve as intermediaries for God, in the same way. Some do of course but generally Protestants have a different theological understanding or ordained ministry).

There is no evidence of a systemic cover up in other denominations like there is in the Roman Catholic Church. This has a lot to do with the hierarchical structure that is different than protestant churches, but it is there nontheless.

"There is at least as much abuse in Protestant churches, if not more"

Do you have any evidence at all for this statement? Child abuse is pervasive but I don't think you can back this up with data

"but the Protestant churches aren't being constantly maligned and made the butt of jokes."

The church and religious people are mocked generally in this culture I'm sorry to say, but to say that the church is being maligned or made fun of implies that criticism isn't warranted. I'd say that it is, although some of it has been in very poor taste.

"However, imagine what it would be like if the media was still putting your church in the spotlight even though what happened happened ten years ago or if they continued to act if it had just happened two months ago or that it was still happening on a regular basis. It would get even more frustrating to know that the public is being misled about the true scope of the problem to satisfy personal agendas."

So, the abuse really isn't that bad? Do you really intend to say this?

The media tends to get a lot wrong, but it seems that the headlines flare up when there is a new wave of allegations that are backed up with facts.

Elena said...

The preponderance of the evidence--no one seriously doubts--points to the huge magnitude of this problem.

Let's go at it this way -

Madgebaby do you know what percentage of Catholic priests were reported by the independent investigators to have been abusers?

Elena said...

This is from one of the links Kelly provided days ago:

CMR's annual surveys of about 1,000 churches nationwide have asked about sexual abuse since 1993. They're a remarkable window on a problem that lurked largely in the shadows of public awareness until the Catholic scandals arose.

The surveys suggest that over the past decade, the pace of child-abuse allegations against American churches has averaged 70 a week. The surveys registered a slight downward trend in reported abuse starting in 1997, possibly a result of the introduction of preventive measures by churches.

"I think the CMR numbers are striking, yet quite reasonable," says Anson Shupe, anIndiana University professor who's written books about church abuse. "To me it says Protestants are less reluctant to come forward because they don't put their clergy on as high a pedestal as Catholics do with their priests."

Kelly said...

I'm really swamped today, so I probably won't be able to address any more comments until this evening. I wanted to try and throw a little out there, though.

Madgebaby said:
"There is at least as much abuse in Protestant churches, if not more"

Do you have any evidence at all for this statement? Child abuse is pervasive but I don't think you can back this up with data


I already provided data on this in the first post. I know the amount of links is overwhelming, but they are quite informative.

The media tends to get a lot wrong, but it seems that the headlines flare up when there is a new wave of allegations that are backed up with facts.

Well, not necessarily. Read this story. This is one of the ones that came out recently. Is it a new allegation against the Pope backed up with facts? Sure seems like it. Only the real story is:

*Cardinal Ratzinger was responding to a request for laicization, quite apart from abuse. His office would have no jurisdiction over abuse cases until 2001, which was almost 20 years later.

*The request was not from the Diocese trying to deal with an abusive priest. The priest had already been removed from all pastoral duties. He had personally requested laicization.

*Laicization was eventually granted, and there is no evidence that this priest abused anyone during the time period where he was awaiting laicization. The next complaints against him were not until 2002.

So, where is the scandal here. The diocese acted appropriately. He was removed from ministry. The issue of whether or not he remained a priest is separate. Yet, the article clearly gives the impression that Cardinal Ratzinger was trying to protect the abusing priest.

madgebaby said...

The 2007 John Jay study has been used to suggest that what happened in the Roman Catholic church mirrored things that were happening in society. One problem with the way that data is used is that abuse of chidren and adolescents by priests is compared with clergy sexual misconduct with adults in other denominations. A huge percentage of people have inappropriate sexual relationships with people roughly their own age, and only a small percentage of any population abuse children. when caught, most offenders have huge numbers of victims.

This is not among the articles you have sited but it is quite current and I found it very informative. It can be found here and I've quoted it below:

http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/critics-dig-deeper-causes-scandal

"Most explicit in citing a clerical culture in need of reform was Bishop Jim Moriarty of Kildare and Leighlin, whose resignation was the most recent accepted by Benedict. In a statement April 22 announcing his resignation, Moriarty said he took the step because he was part of the governance of the Dublin archdiocese “prior to when correct child protection policies and procedures were implemented. Again I accept that from the time I became an auxiliary bishop, I should have challenged the prevailing culture.”

Moriarty, who served in Dublin from 1991 to 2002, added: “The truth is that the long struggle of survivors to be heard and respected by church authorities has revealed a culture within the church that many would simply describe as unchristian. People do not recognize the gentle, endless love of the Lord in narrow interpretations of responsibility and a basic lack of compassion and humility.”

His statement is one of the most self-effacing and judgmental of any bishop yet affected by the scandal. The tone of his comments is remarkably different from that of many other bishops, especially those in the United States, who have dismissed calls for structural reform or suggestions that a culture existed that exacerbated the problem.

Fr. Donald Cozzens, writer in residence at John Carroll University in Ohio, believes that in the current crisis “we are witnessing the collapse of the Roman Catholic empire -- not, I hope, of the Roman Catholic church. Empires, whether temporal or ecclesial, no longer work.”

In a recent interview with NCR, Cozzens remarked that “the church as empire is imploding” and among the evidence he cited for that claim was his assessment that the church “acknowledges no real need for accountability. There’s no transparency. All cases of clergy abuse are under papal secrecy.”

Psychologist Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea, who specializes in treating victims of sexual abuse and who spoke to the bishops during that momentous 2002 meeting in Dallas, told NCR in a recent interview that “having it all come out again is all the more infuriating” to patients. People ask, “How can this organization talk about being a church and holding the moral truth of the universe when this keeps coming out?”

Referring to W.W. Meissner’s work The Cultic Origins of Christianity, she said she believes “there is within any cultic organization the tendency to believe, to hold as a tenet, that badness is out there and goodness is in here.” She said that while church leaders “give lip service to the church’s sinfulness” they do little about it.

“Why on Good Friday did they not have bishops throughout the world dressed in sackcloth, saying the stations and wearing a symbolic millstone? To do that would have required humility and a sense of shame, and neither is evident.” Frawley-O’Dea said she believes “they aren’t ashamed. They’re not offended at the offense. They are very offended that they were caught and that people are trying to hold them accountable, but they’re not ashamed of themselves.”

Elena said...

One problem with the way that data is used is that abuse of chidren and adolescents by priests is compared with clergy sexual misconduct with adults in other denominations.

Now who is trivializing the victims of abuse eh?

and I have said this before but most of the abuse was ephebophilia/ a homosexual issue.

And to answer the question you side stepped it was 4%.

Madgebaby, I'm about done with you because you won't address the points I enumerated nor will you answer direct questions. Incidentally the NCR is hardly a respected Catholic magazine, except by liberal and dissenting Catholics.

You have a chip on your shoulder about this and I guess you needed to work it out over here, but as I've said before BTDT. I'm more interested in moving with the new directives and building a new future for Catholic youth.

This is Kelly's baby so I'll let her finish the thread when she's done.

madgebaby said...

If the victim is under the age of consent, ephebophilia is pedophilia. It isn't necessarily a homosexual issue, although according it is more commonly so than is the abuse of pre-adolescent children.

Yet again, the harsh tone, the expectation that I be intimately familiar with conservative roman catholic sources and a source that I'd consider moderate to liberal but within the institution is thrown out (along with me, whom you say you're "about done with" as if I'm not even worth full personhood).

I guess if advocating for the victims of people in powerful positions equates with having a chip on my shoulder, I'm not alone. I personally think I've just asked for a perspective--that the bishops of the church should be more truly repentant for what they have done--that many want. I know a lot of Roman Catholics who want that too.

You and Mikey Mike have been pretty nasty to me personally for disagreeing with you, and perhaps you ought to think of how you deal with those who differ with you. After all, that's what Candy does--she gets this huge category of people with whom she disagrees and condemns them for it. She won't listen to any sources that she hasn't pre approved and which don't support her agenda, and she cuts off the conversation with personal insults when cornered. I encourage you to embrace difference and learn from it instead of being threatened by it. You may well not change your mind, but you may change your heart.

Other than disagreeing with you and asking for back-up, I hope and pray that I have not treated you or anyone on this thread with disrespect. That has not been my intent at all.

Elena said...

If the victim is under the age of consent, ephebophilia is pedophilia

No. It is two different disorders. Victims of ephebophilia have secondary sexual characteristics including (in males) facial hair, pubic hair, masculine larynx, voice change etc. That is what made the majority of young male victims so attractive to their homosexual abusers.

What it has in common with pedophilia is that it is still illegal.


The adversarial tone comes from you inability and /or unwillingness to actually engage in discussion. I tried very nicely to summarize for you and you totally refused to address that.

We don't need you to "advocate" for the victims here. Every Catholic here I am sure has been very compassionate and prayerful for all of the innocent victims.

This discussion wasn't about bashing victims either so again, advocating is off topic and a strawman to the main point.

Please get on topic and address the points in the original post, as well as respond when others sincerely do try to engage with you and find common points of agreement.

After all, that's what Candy does--she gets this huge category of people with whom she disagrees and condemns them for it.

Well hardly. Posts that Candy disagrees with never make it on her blog. You on the other hand, have been given a lot of bandwidth as well as encouragement to address certain points as I attempt to focus the discussion and look for points of agreement.

But we do have some commenting guidelines. They are on the side bar. The big one is being on topic and even though you haven't managed to do that, we have still allowed you to post.

and yet you get offended when we object to the way you side step points that were written with much thought and effort for you.

As I am not a professional blogger, and neither is Kelly, we gotta know when enough is enough. But we don't ban people.

We might close up the thread though.

madgebaby said...

I thought that the topic was clergy sexual abuse in the roman catholic church and the response to it. I've tried to stay on topic. Frankly you made me the issue instead of the abuse of children. Clearly this conversation won't go anywhere so it is probably better to stop it. I stand by the questions I've asked and the statements I've made and would benefit from genuine dialogue on this topic. Feel free to continue to bash me instead of confronting the real issues here.

Kelly said...

madgebaby wrote:
This is not among the articles you have sited but it is quite current and I found it very informative. It can be found here and I've quoted it below:

Well, leaving aside the Catholicity of the National Catholic Reporter, let me ask you why you felt it was informative. I did read the whole thing, and it appeared to be mostly two people giving their opinion.

Take this quote, for example:
In a recent interview with NCR, Cozzens remarked that “the church as empire is imploding” and among the evidence he cited for that claim was his assessment that the church “acknowledges no real need for accountability. There’s no transparency. All cases of clergy abuse are under papal secrecy.”

Well, this does sound like what you have been saying. But is it really true? If there is no acknowledgement of the need for accountability, then why was the John Jay survey done? What about the Gavin study in every single diocese? The lay committee? The national adoption of standards? What would he accept as real accountability?

The same goes for transparency. What part of this is not transparent? The papal secret thing sounds ominous, but that only refers to the canonical trial. All abuse is still required to be reported to the authorities, which would lead to a separate criminal trial.

I think what is frustrating for us is this--

You say that you've heard very little by way of apology.

I point out a multitude of apologies.

In your last message you are again saying that the bishops should be more repentant, but how do you prove repentance? Either they feel it or they don't, but as it is an interior condition, we'll never know what is sincere.

You demand they back this up with actions.

I point out actions.

You say, well, other churches did all that decades ago.

I point out the Catholic church did all that decades ago as well, and ask what specific action you would like.

You mention specific actions.

I show that those specific actions were taken, most over 10 years ago.

You seemed to have assumed that the Gavin 3rd party audit was just for that one diocese. It wasn't. You can read a last summary of results here.

Data collected by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University found 398 new credible allegations of abuse were reported by dioceses and eparchies in 2009; the allegations were made by 398 victims against 286 individuals. In reports from religious orders, there were 115 people who made 115 allegations involving 60 priests or brothers.

Among the allegations reported by dioceses, six involved children who were under the age of 18 in 2009. The remaining 392 cases involved adults who alleged they were abused when they were minors. Among religious orders, none of the new allegations involved people who were under 18 in 2009.

Kelly said...

My comment was too long, here is the rest.

I'm not understanding your problem with the John Jay study. Are you saying that they compared incidences of Catholic clergy with minors with incidences of other clergy with those over 18?

You also keep returning to the theme that the Catholic Church is the only institution which has systematically covered up abuse. You have not yet commented on our example of the public school system.

Contrary to the perception that sexual exploitation of youth by priests occurs because of the unique characteristics of the Catholic institutional setting, Shakeshaft found that schools' responses to allegations of sexual exploitation and misconduct are similar to the inadequate institutional response of the Catholic Church in the '80s and '90s.

"In schools, most sexual misconduct is unreported," said Shakeshaft. Her research shows that among students who reported they were sexually harassed by a school employee, only 11.6 percent actually told a teacher while 10.6 percent reported the incident to another staff member.

Regarding consequences for educator offenders, Shakeshaft cited a 1992 study of 225 cases of documented sexual misconduct by physical educators that resulted in only 15 percent of the offenders losing their jobs. Approximately 50 percent received a "negative consequence" or reprimand, and 39 percent agreed to leave the district with a positive recommendation provided by the administration.


You also have not commented on the article I gave as an example of reporting an old case as a new scandal in an inaccurate manner.

madgebaby said...

The John Jay survey is a population study and based on self report--surveys were sent to dioceses and they reported back. The investigators had no access to the actual records.

The same is true with the audit--it is based on self report, and many dioceses chose not to participate.

When I said there needed to be an audit, I meant a more forensic audit where records are actually reviewed, not just where people are asked questions. That looks helpful, but is is not necessarily accurate or helpful.

Clearly we are at crosshairs here. You provide the myriad of apologies and I provide the example of a few people who want more than words. You are coming from a position of seeing all the progress that the church has made, and to many of us it seems too little, too late (at least for many survivors and others who have left the church because of the past.)

I'm glad it is better now, and I totally agree that the media has made the mess much worse and has not accurately reported much. There is basically no objective data on this subject since records are sealed and feelings are so passionate on all sides.

Elena said...

Let me try again. We asked you basically what would satisfy you as a resolution to the Catholic Sex Scandals. You said:

What would help? third party audit of all records, a vehicle for reporting and investigation of abuse that sidesteps all current ordained leadership, less defensiveness and less of a persecution complex. Those things would help.

You also said:

"it is about making the church (all churches) safe for the vulnerable."

Conversation and clarification ensued and then I came up with 5 points I thought we could agree on which were:

1. That determining "level" of the scandal is subjective and...
2. In someways that level is based on personal experience but in others is also media driven.
3. And that although we disagree on the "level" of the scandal we can agree that unfortunately sexual abuse happens universally in institutions and cultures across the human experience
4. You should be able to concede that in context, neither Kelly, Barbara C or I were not defending the abusers in any way shape or form.
5. That reforms to prevent future abuse have been put in place and
6. That there have been credible audits and processes put into place outside the church authorities

Now it sounds as if you want more audits and processes byt whether or not you like what's been done I think we can agree that they were on the road to credibility.

I also pointed out that the scandal in the US only involved 4% of the priests.

In your next comment I would like to see you address those points and if not I really think it's time to close this thread Kelly.

madgebaby said...

You are generating way more heat than light here. We've covered all this before. You won't be happy until I agree with you using your sources. You aren't interested in differing perspectives. Again, you have made it about me instead of about the problem of clergy sexual abuse in the roman catholic church and the cover up. I'm not going to participate in this since it hasn't been real dialogue in a while. It's too bad.

Dr MikeyMike said...

Forgive me if I don't spread the details of my friends lives out for the internet to pick at.

Details that may or may not exist, right?

Since you basically are calling me crazy for saying that sexual abuse of children shouldn't be covered up and minimized..

No, I'm calling you crazy for not responding to the many examples that Elena and Kelly have given showing the steps taken to rectify the wrongs, nor addressing the grand evidence that this isn't some fundamental flaw with the RCC or its priesthood, like you seem to enjoy portraying.

You and Mikey Mike have been pretty nasty to me personally for disagreeing with you, and perhaps you ought to think of how you deal with those who differ with you.

You occupy the victim roll very well! Its sort of surprising to see you so fragile after you are so hard on the RCC.


I'm not going to participate in this since it hasn't been real dialogue in a while. It's too bad.

You're right - there hasn't been real dialogue! You only address the issue if has a link to some silly little article from someone pissed at the Church or blatantly biased. Heaven forbid you address the heap of other legitimate articles arguing the contrary. Contrary - yes, I think you enjoy being contrary! :D

madgebaby said...

You've added nothing to this conversation, Mikey, other than to pick at me.

I sure hope you never have to deal with survivors of this abuse--of course I hate it for them more than for you.

There is a lot of sin left in the abuse issue, a lot of sin that you all don't seem to want to deal with. One denial and obfuscation after another.

The Roman Catholic church has a marketing problem. All these words aside, many people of all faiths distrust the Catholic church because of what has gone on historically and the hiding of it that is still going on because dioceses will not be transparent about what has actually happened. Self reporting is a good first step, but given the minimizing of the problem that I've witnessed in this conversation and what I know generally I do not believe that it will get at the truth.

It is up to you, the devout conservative layfolk, to show a better way and you have not done it in this conversation. Instead you've picked at me because I disagree with you. When I give explanations like my own history and the fact that a self report is not a real audit, you pick more. That's not going to clarify this problem one bit.

Until evil is exposed to the light, it will only fester. Any attempt to shelter the guilty is the work of evil. Jesus would have had none of this.

John 3:19-21

And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.”

Elena said...

There is a lot of sin left in the abuse issue, a lot of sin that you all don't seem to want to deal with.

That's simply not true. But I'd like some concrete examples of what is "left" and also some concrete examples of "how to deal with it."

From my perspective (and I already tried to discuss perspective with you) it seems that apologies, restitution, new programs and training to avoid future abuse and better screening of seminarians are all in the right direction.

You keep saying they're not enough but you never say WHY they are not enough or if it will ever be enough. I suspect that for some victims who were hurt profoundly there are some things that will never fully heal - and that's the sad part of mortal sin. Sometimes even if you're truly sorry the residual of the sin will always remain.

But on the other hand I don't think it's healthy for the entire church body to wring their hands and beat their breasts for the next 20 years, too remorseful to move forward and so mired in pain and guilt that nothing good ever comes out of it. Is that what you want?

It is up to you, the devout conservative layfolk, to show a better way and you have not done it in this conversation.

Frankly, I haven't exactly found your participation to be illuminating and helpful either.

madgebaby said...

What is left to do is for the bishops to stop apologizing for the sins of their underlings and take responsibility for themselves. They need to be transparent, which means let others audit the records. It means that they stop blaming the clergy sexual abuse on homosexuality (that is what the pedophilia/ephebophilia is about, since you clearly don't know. not only are the latter typically gay, they "seem" gay which makes them so much easier to scapegoat. The problem is that most of the abusers in the big cases don't fit that description at all. Michael Jackson fits that description). That blaming is so convenient since they hate homosexuals already and it is easier to hate something that fits a stereotype.

You are right, it will never be enough for some. But none of what I just described has ever been done.

Since the only approved response is something like "go team", it isn't surprising that I'm not very illuminating for you. My point, however isn't to illuminate you, it is to illuminate the plight of those abused by the Roman Catholic church of whom I am not one except vicariously.

Elena said...

The problem is that most of the abusers in the big cases don't fit that description at all.

Actually most of them do fit that description. Go get the book, Goodbye Good Men (which I linked to in one of these threads already) by Michael Rose. He has it very well documented.

And it's not about "hating homosexuals." It is about finding men with healthy sexualities and self-knowledge who are capable of fulfilling the role of priest. Michael Rose's book also explains what happened with the influx of a homosexual culture into the seminaries and why that was allowed to happen. It's too complicated to go into here.


Thanks for finally admitting that regardless of what the church does or what we say, it will never satisfy. That was one of the most frustrating parts of this conversation. Would have been nice if you had just lead with that.

The John Jay Study was pretty thorough. I'm unclear about what you mean "audit the records." What records? Where? and as a medical records person red flags fly for me about open audits of personal information. How do you protect confidentiality of victims in open audits?


Thank you also for admitting that you are here to "illuminate the plight of the victims" Too bad we didn't have a post about the plight of the victims. We had one about celibacy, one about the church authorities apologizing and this one about what the church was doing. So anything else is off topic.

Elena said...

This was interesting and it makes my point - from an analysis of the John Jay Report:

The incidence of sexual molestation of a minor under eleven years of age did not vary as greatly throughout the period as did the molestation of older children. In addition, the incidence of abuse of females did not change as dramatically as did the incidence of the abuse of males. There was, however, a more than six-fold increase in the number of reported acts of abuse of males aged eleven to seventeen between the 1950s and the 1970s.

If the abuse in the ’50s (and earlier) followed roughly the same pattern as the abuse in the ’70s, and just remains more underreported today, you would expect the ratios of different types of abuse — long-term versus short-term, male versus female, pedophilic versus ephebophilic — to remain relatively constant across the decades. But they don’t: Instead, the post-1960 period shows a dramatic increase in reports of long-term sexual misconduct with teenage boys, and a substantially smaller increase in other types of abuse.

Elena said...

What is left to do is for the bishops to stop apologizing for the sins of their underlings and take responsibility for themselves.

Actually, I kind of like that and as a parent who has had to apologize in the past for my child's behavior I think it's appropriate. Plus I remember reading lots of victims groups who demanded apologies! So I guess their sort of damned either way.

Anyway I found this in one of Kelly's links.

DALLAS — Confessing failure, the leader of the nation's Roman Catholic bishops opened a national meeting on priestly sex abuse Thursday by offering "the most profound apology" for derelict leadership, begged forgiveness and pledged to do penance by enacting tough reform measures.

Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, admitted that too often bishops were more worried about scandal than preventing abuse and too often had treated victims as "adversaries and not as suffering members of the church."
"This crisis is not about a lack of faith in God," Gregory said. "The crisis, in truth, is about a profound loss of confidence by the faithful in our leadership as shepherds.... Only by truthful confession, heartfelt contrition and firm purpose of amendment can we hope to receive the generous mercy of God and the forgiveness of our brothers and sisters."


I am pretty sure madgebaby won't find that acceptable, but it sure seems to me that this is the bishops attempting to take responsibility for themselves - but again I'm not exactly clear what would satisfy her.