Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Everybody's doing it...

  On the Easter Sunday Mass, Father Jim touched on the sex abuse scandal in the church. While he did say that there is no excuse for abuse, he pointed out that while it is estimated that 3 or 4 percent of Catholic priests are abusers (I’m not clear if they are abusers or just accused of being abusers), that number is slightly less than the Protestant clergy and that 10 percent of US Public school students have been targeted with unwanted sexual attention by school employees.

  I’m not a big fan of the ‘everybody’s doing it’ defense (except when I’m getting a traffic ticket, of course). If you have to bring up these kinds of facts, haven’t you already lost the debate? I was stunned to be told that out of every 25 to 33 priests, one is a child-abuser, but I don’t care about these or any other statistics. Everything I hear from the Church seems to be either (a) we’re being picked on because we’re Catholic or (b) look at these other groups who are as bad or worse.

  I ran scholastic chess tournaments for 3 years and I wouldn’t let an adult help unless I’d known them for a good long time or they had their own children at the tournament. Having someone abusing kids whose parents I was convincing to take to my tournaments was my worst nightmare. If it had happened, I’d like to think I’d be the first one calling the police to scrape up what was left of the abuser and not getting the abuser to stay away from my tournaments and help some other director with theirs.

  Tearing down institutions is what the media does to market their product and the more sacrosanct an institution, the better for the media. Politicians and celebrities have always been fair game. But at least 1 teacher
(see article)
wasn’t immune from his 15 minutes of fame. In any event, these wounds are all self-inflicted.

  I do think the Catholic Church is being held to a higher standard, but I say ‘so what?’ In order to be exceptional, a higher standard is required. If the church was firing and prosecuting abusers instead of transferring them or limiting their public appearances, they would retain the moral high ground and be in a better position to point out the abuses of the other groups and maybe even help to stop the abuses of all groups. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a voice of moral authority ask why perverts get probation and time served
(see article) , instead of some sort of justification that pedophile priests are just indicative of the rest of society? As so often happens, the pretense of denying the truth ends up causing more trouble than admitting the problem and dealing with it in the first place. Based on the news this week, I think the church may be finally getting it.

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