Thursday, April 1, 2010
time to stop passing the buck within the Catholic Church
I was planning to fulfill my vow of not joining in on the latest round of criticism against the Roman Catholic Church during Holy Week. Unfortunately though, that will not happen. In fairness, I suppose I need to reveal that I was raised Catholic, have grown increasingly disappointed with how the hierarchy of the Church functions (or dysfunctions I think) and have not attended Mass or other Catholic services in about seven years.
I was driven over the edge of non compliance however, when I read an ad placed in the New York Times, on Tuesday of this week, by Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. I was reminded that even as an altar boy, in the late sixties and early seventies, I was well beyond the degree of denial and insult to intelligence which often encircles the Catholic Church to this very day. I am appalled by the inability of some defenders of the Catholic Church to understand the serious nature of abuse. And I am completely disgusted by spin that tries to lay blame on the era, suggesting that society didn’t know how to handle child molestation accusations until somewhere around 1996.
Mr. Donohue’s message was quite disturbing in my view. He titled the ad “Going For The Vatican Jugular”. Much of the ire seems to stem from a New York Times article published on March 24th, which brings attention to the case of Father Lawrence C. Murphy, who was accused of molesting possibly as many as 200 boys at a Wisconsin boarding school for the deaf from about 1952 to 1974. And yet, prior to Father Murphy’s death in 1998, the Catholic Church hadn’t defrocked him or recommended him for prosecution.
Mr. Donohue stated “The Times says repeatedly that Church officials did not report accusations of abuse to the police. The common response of all organizations, secular as well as religious, was to access therapy and reinstate the patient (I prefer the term offender). Today it is obvious that a more hard-line approach is necessary, though therapy is still popular in many quarters.”
Just from my own memories, I disagree with that notion. By the time I graduated elementary school I was aware that child molestation was a police matter. And I believe most other people knew that as well. Shamefully though, for too many abused children, help did not come soon enough.
As for the above mentioned therapy policy that Mr. Donohue sites, it rings incomplete and strange to me. And I would like to know why he is so concerned about therapy for the predator and makes no reference about the therapeutic needs of the victims.
Mr. Donohue then advances another absurd contention. He states, “The Times continues to editorialize about the “pedophilia crisis,” when all along it’s been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.”
I picture wheels coming off and Mr. Donohue’s line of reasoning hitting the wall here. Homosexuality is not about having sex with minors, in the same manner that heterosexuality is not about having sex with minors. Pedophilia however, is by definition, a sexual perversion involving children as the object of desire. I am also unaware of a term that would better describe the "priestly sexual abuse" of around eighty percent males (twenty percent female evidently), where the victims are minors, and mostly post-pubescent (but not exclusively evidently), other than calling this pedophilia. Certainly it is off the mark to label such behavior a "homosexual crisis".
The ad doesn’t reference a source for where Mr. Donohue gathers his statistics from regarding the "Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent." breakdown, and by not addressing the abuse of the other twenty percent of the victims, they seem to be minimized along the way.
I am not an advocate for the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI over these matters. But, regarding allegations of abuse, the leaders and supporters of the Roman Catholic Church must begin demonstrating extra concern for the victims. In short, a whole lot more validation and contrition is needed.
Forgiveness flows more readily to those who accept blame, than to those who continue pointing fingers.
© 2010 Christopher’s Views