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


  1. Excellent post, Christopher! I, too, left the Catholic Church after years of teaching in Catholic Schools. Thanks for this! Have a great weekend and thanks, too, as always for your visit/comment! Always appreciated!


  2. Such a good post.
    So basically Mr. Donohue is blaming pedophilia on homosexuality and the NY Times for reporting on the church's mishandling of the offender. I think you are right Chris, it sounds like a lot of finger pointing.
    The sad thing is, there are many priests in the church who disagree with this type of thinking though we will most likely never get to hear from them.

  3. Ah, defenders of the status quo. I witnessed many cases of priestly abuse. This happens when people are given to believe ALL of their behavior is divinely sanctioned. Gives pedophiles a perfect place to hide and abuse. I thought we had gone beyond equating male pedophilia with homosexuality? Apparently Mr. Donahue is quite the dinosaur. The Church needs to focus on helping the victims and stop trying to save its ass.

  4. Amen, brother.
    I too was raised Catholic, was an altar boy, reader, etc. I have not been to church for many years except the occasional funeral or wedding. Oh, I also wanted to be a priest. Was in seminary for first three years of college.

    I see 'the church' not only as dysfunctional, but as corrupt. It has been all through history and is not different today. They think they are 'above' the law.

    The pope is being accused of 'hiding' pedophiles when he was in Munich.

  5. You've got to wonder. It's all so sick. I have to agree with your right down the line, Christopher. Always have questioned the church, even as a child. Thanks for visiting my Cape Breton blog and leaving such a nice comment. I enjoyed seeing you there. I hope you have a relaxing weekend. ~karen

  6. Thank you for describing the complete insanity of the Catholic church with such clarity. And your timing couldn't be better - why wait until the day after Easter?? Someone out there please explain to me why these offenders' records and home addresses aren't listed online, similar to the website Let me add that I, too, am a retired Catholic, and loving every minute of it! - Maria

  7. It would seem that you, many of those commenting on your post, and I share a history of being former Catholics. I would like to think that as I matured, I grew out of it. The basic teachings of the Church are fine. Trouble is, they are just not observed, by the masses nor certainly by the "leaders". I've long ago given up trying to label my own beliefs.

    The non-action against such priests is inexcusable of course.

  8. YOU should be a Cardinal! Great illuminating post.

    Aloha from Hawaii my Friend

    Comfort Spiral

  9. My name is John and I am a Recovering Catholic.Criminal acts against children have been committed by criminals for decades. We hear defense, rationalization, explanation, and revisionism of these horrific criminal acts from those who claim to deeply embrace the transcendent principles of their belief. In the 21st century this is the profile of the terrorist.

  10. Christopher,
    I thought this was a reasoned, well-written response to what seems another ill-informed (at the very least) attempt by the Catholic Church to excuse not just the acts committed by priests, but to rationalize the inaction of its leaders.

    You might be interested in this article from the Glob and Mail (Toronto).

  11. Well done, but alas, attempting to use "logic" with the Catholic League will always be frustrating. They're like FOX for Catholics. Equally disturbing to me is the current "blame the media" response by members of the Catholic hierarchy, deflecting criticism of the past by recounting policy changes Benedict has instituted as Pope in the area of abuse. Fine, but not the issue at hand. In response to this, Fr. Thomas Reese (a Jesuit who under JPII was "reassigned" as editor of the then more progressive Catholic magazine "America") was very vocal in saying the the Pope and the bishops need to get ahead of this, take full responsibility for action and inaction, ferret out and prosecute criminal priests and apologize apologize, apologize. Good for him.
    I am glad for all the voices of the faithful or not, who continue to speak out against abuse and injustice. And for the sake of full disclosure in this threaded discussion, I am a practicing Catholic, despite its hierarchy. For me, the gifts and strength derived from a sacramental life and Gospel teachings greatly outweigh the disappointment (and occasional disdain) with the human Catholic hierarchy. But that's just me.

  12. Very well written. It's such a sad long-standing, widespread situation.

  13. I sooo appreciate your vehemence on this issue, and in particular, this sentiment:

    "Homosexuality is not about having sex with minors, in the same manner that heterosexuality is not about having sex with minors."

    Nothing gets me more het up than the assertion that homosexuals are pederasts.

    Personally, I feel I've seen enough reports of The Pope's knowledge about and aid in moving abusive priests--that is, taking part in the cover-up--that I do believe he should resign...not that I think he will/would, but I do think it's time to make a point of his ill fit to be a pre-eminent leader when he's played an active role in deeply hurting victims.