A Catholic Response to the Sex Abuse Scandal

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Many Catholics are a bit unsure about their Church these days. The sex abuse scandal within the Church – which has dominated headlines for the past decade – has left them speechless. There is no defending child abuse. And facing the reality that such abuse is happening within the only remaining bastion of orthodox Christianity is tough. So what do we say? Why do we remain Catholic?

Putting it in perspective

We don’t need to make excuses. And there is no justifying evil by pointing to other evil. However, we need to start with a fair and accurate view of reality.

The truth is that sex abuse (particularly of children) is not just a Catholic problem – it’s a human problem. This is not something unique to the Catholic Church. It is happening in every religion. Every organization. Every school system. In fact, many studies indicate that pedophilia (and other sex abuse) happens even more often in other religions and denominations than in the Catholic Church. And it happens more still within the public school system. And that includes the cover-ups as well. In other words, if you think it’s a problem in the Catholic Church, then just remember it is even worse in most every other denomination, organization and within the school system.

Overall, a Catholic priest is half as likely to have sexual contact with a minor than the average adult male. So if anything, the Catholic Church and its priesthood is having a very positive effect on the situation. But, of course, even one act of abuse is still one too many.

Please read this document here for a more in depth analysis of these statistics (w/ sources). It’s very eye-opening and will give you a much more accurate picture of the situation than the media has tried to paint.

The point here is not to marginalize the gravity of these abuses or to in any way justify the failings within the Catholic Church. But a reality check is healthy before solving problems (and before casting stones). And it debunks claims that the problem is caused directly by anything uniquely Catholic, such as priestly celibacy or a male-only priesthood. There are, however, many apparent reasons as to why this did happen the way it has in the Church. But I will leave that for another discussion.

The shadows and the Light

“I remain within, and love, the Catholic Church because it is a church that has lived and wrestled within the mystery of the shadow lands ever since an innocent man was arrested, sentenced and crucified, while the keeper of “the keys” denied him, and his first priests ran away. Through 2,000 imperfect — sometimes glorious, sometimes heinous — years, the church has contemplated and manifested the truth that dark and light, innocence and guilt, justice and injustice all share a kinship, one that waves back and forth like wind-stirred wheat in a field, churning toward something — as yet — unknowable.

The darkness within my church is real, and it has too often gone unaddressed. The light within my church is also real, and has too often gone unappreciated. A small minority has sinned, gravely, against too many. Another minority has assisted or saved the lives of millions.” – Elizabeth Scalia (The Anchoress)

That’s from a recent article by Elizabeth Scalia on this same topic. Please go read the whole thing here. It’s beautiful.

Jesus’ Church is made up of imperfect humans. For some seemingly crazy reason He set it up that way. If the Media were around on the original Good Friday, the headline would have read “Jesus’ Apostles Abandon Him in Hour of Need; Deny Him Repeatedly.” It was a huge scandal. But it wasn’t the end of the story. Throughout history the Church has been tested and scandalized over and over, both from the outside and inside. Yet, it is still here. And guess what? There will be more scandal in the future. And we will grapple with it, through thick and thin, back and forth, as we continue on this mysterious journey toward “something – as yet – unknowable.” The only step forward through this whole mess is a step deeper into what it means to be the Church – not a step out of it.

You can look for a church with perfect leaders if you’d like. But you can be sure that, if you ever do find it, it will not be Jesus’ Church. For He chose to build a Church upon the faith of sinners. And the gates of hell shall not prevail against it (Mat 16:18).

So you can also disregard anyone who speculates this to be the end of the Catholic Church. How short is their memory.

But why doesn’t the Church do something about the problem?

Actually, they’ve done a lot. Here’s a chart:

(From the John Jay Study – another excellent resource and itself a result of the Church effort to help the problem)

It’s a drastic improvement, to say the least. And the Church is not satisfied with that. We are still working hard to do better. The Church has implemented an unbelievable amount of programs, checks, safeguards and policies to continue improving the situation. So you can also disregard accusations that the Church continues to do nothing while covering up the problem. At this point it has probably done more than any large institution in the world to help prevent further abuse. And it should. But there is still more work to be done.

What about the Bishops or other leaders who have covered up stuff in the past?

It seems that, to some extent, this did occur. That is inexcusable and infuriates every Catholic – especially the priests – that I know. Just as there are bad priests, there are also bad bishops. And it will take continued pressure from us to make sure they are held accountable. The Pope has already done a lot to address this.

But don’t be too quick to condemn (we tend to do that when we get infuriated). Sometimes when the Church doesn’t deal with something in the manner we expect, we assume it isn’t being dealt with. But the Church is not a country and the Pope a president. The Church is not a corporation and the pope a CEO. It is a unique organization, different than any other institution in the history of the world. It operates differently. Often due to greater wisdom. Sometimes due to corruption or ineptness at some level.

Usually we don’t have the full story (something you won’t find in a news report). So it’s important to get the story straight. But then it is part of our duty to help reform from within where things need it. Oh, and in the case of any recent allegations regarding Pope Benedict XVI, I recommend reading this, this and this from Jimmy Akin.

Bringing good from the bad

The enemies of the Church here are primarily the abusing-priests and the bad bishops. That is clear. But the main-stream-media is certainly an enemy here as well. Most in the media are far more interested in ideology and profiting from scandal than keeping children safe, to be sure. There are few heroes there. You can be sure that many of the things you’ve heard in the media and repeated to you by critics is not entirely, if at all, true.

But some good has come from their malice. It was a needed wake-up call to Church leadership – no doubt about it. As Catholics, we have to take our lumps and move forward. It’s humbling. It hurts. That’s what sanctification feels like. That’s life.

What about the victims?

There are three great groups of victims in this story. The first and most obvious, the children who were abused, who trusted, were preyed upon and bear the burden through life. The second group is the good priests and good nuns, the great leaders of the church in the day to day, who save the poor, teach the immigrant, and, literally, save lives. They have been stigmatized when they deserve to be lionized. And the third group is the Catholics in the pews—the heroic Catholics of America and now Europe, the hardy souls who in spite of what has been done to their church are still there, still making parish life possible, who hold high the flag, their faith unshaken. No one thanks those Catholics, sees their heroism, respects their patience and fidelity. – Peggy Noonan

The abused children are, of course, by far the most victimized. No amount of money or words will heal those wounds. By our actions we must show compassion and fight for justice wherever possible. And most of all, we must pray for them.

So why am I still Catholic?

I’m going to steal one from Chesterton to answer that:

“The difficulty of explaining ‘why I am a Catholic’ is that there are ten thousand reasons all amounting to one reason: that Catholicism is true.” – G. K. Chesterton

That may be hard to accept sometimes. And it will certainly not be enough for many critics. Indeed, nothing will be enough for some of them. They are angry. They have been hurt. Some of them may have been abuse victims themselves.

Keep the faith. Share with them your hope – share the truth. And then love them.

[photo credit]

50 comments Add comment

Brandon Vogt April 5, 2010 at 10:39 am

This is probably the best response to the scandal that I’ve read; words written with gentleness, humility, and honesty. Thank you for this, Matthew.

Michael Fleet April 5, 2010 at 11:47 am

Well written, Matthew! I just linked, retweeted, and otherwise disseminated the article throughout my networks. :) Keep them coming! You are an excellent communicator, and I find your untiring defense of the Faith inspiring. :)

Pax Christi, Michael.

caite@a lovely shore breeze April 5, 2010 at 1:00 pm

Many excellent points, points that you rarely see raised except in the Catholic Blogshere. To listen to the Main Stream media…and sadly many, including many Catholics, do…you would think it was only a Catholic issue.

Kevan Knowles April 5, 2010 at 1:13 pm

I have not heard of any form of sex scandals in my Diocese thus far, and I pray to God that there aren’t any. Would I ever think twice about walking away from the Catholic Chruch? NEVER. The devil wants nothing more than to break up the Church and I believe with all my heart that the Catholic Church is the “One True Church”. This happens every year during this Liturgical Season. We should not be surprised when the media publishes scandal during this time of the year. As Mathew points out, scandal is within every denomination. Not just the Catholic Church.

Ricky Jones April 5, 2010 at 3:15 pm

Very informative article. Great to hear or see people standing up for the Church and her people when all you see and hear from the media is negativity. Even in TV shows and movies, the Church is always portrayed in a negative manner. Catholics are seen as unfaithful people. We go to confession but aren’t repentant. We just pray the rosary and go back to living our normal lives. Obviously this is not true for all of us. Thanks for putting this out there, I will pass it on. God Bless.

Denise April 5, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Retweeted. Posted. Linked. Thank you for this. I was considering a blog post of my own, but I held out because I didn’t have enough facts to back my argument. This is an excellent response, and I just want to point and go, “What he said!!”

Joseph Alner Garrido April 5, 2010 at 9:40 pm

thanks! there is no greater weapon to any attacks but humility…

Matthew Warner April 6, 2010 at 1:23 am

Thank you all so much for your kinds words and for sharing this with anyone you think might benefit from it. There is so much to be hopeful for, so much to learn, and so much good to bring from this. If God can bring the greatest good of all time from our execution of His Son, He can certainly bring good from this. We just have to have faith and continue to work for it. And we especially need to share that hope with the many in the Church who have had their faith shaken. Peace!

Some heathen April 6, 2010 at 1:01 pm

I think society holds the Catholic Church to a higher standard with regard to the sexual abuse cases because priests PROMISED when they were ordained to live a celibate life (in other words, no molesting children) and to obey their bishop (who presumbably says, “Don’t molest children.”)

Sure, statistics may show that rates of child abuse are even slightly worse among the rest of society, but the rest of society isn’t promising lifelong celibacy.

No one likes a broken promise.

Scott April 6, 2010 at 3:31 pm

True, that may be part of the scandal, at least on a subconscious level (as I have not yet heard anyone claim child molestation is A-OK for people who haven’t pledged themselves to celibacy).

However, most of the scandal is that their bishops did NOT say “Don’t molest children,” but rather did everything they could to cover up for those who did. While I’m sure they say “Don’t molest children” in public, their actions would seem to contradict what they say, and therein lies the true scandal.

segamon April 6, 2010 at 2:13 pm

“…rest of society isn’t promising lifelong celibacy.”

There is no excuse for sexual molestation no matter what someone promises. All people who commit these heinous crimes against humanity should be punished to the full extent of the law whether priest or lay.

Thank you Matthew for this informative article. ^_^

Meg April 6, 2010 at 2:36 pm

Very well written. Thank you for sharing. I am curious if you have any statistics to back up your claim that there is more abuse in other denominations, organizations, and school systems, etc. I’ve heard many others make this claim and I’m wondering if it can be fully backed. I hope that doesn’t sound critical…I’m just curious. Peace

Matthew Warner April 6, 2010 at 3:16 pm

Meg – some of the links throughout the post are to the documentation you are looking for. It’s a good question. With any study on this topic it is difficult to be precise because there are so many factors involved with the assessment. But there is a lot of documented evidence to back up all of these claims.

Segamon – you are correct!

“Some Heathen” – You’re right. I agree that is why many are extra angry…broken promises. I think the Church is fine with being held to a higher standard. We hold ourselves to it. But we should all be shooting for that highest standard whether we’ve taken a religious vow or not.

It’s funny that the world kicks a man more for shooting for a higher standard and failing than the man who never tries in the first place. Kind of backwards if you ask me. And, as Segamon mentioned, sexual abuse of a child is just as horrific whether the person made a “vow” not to do it in the first place or not.

And either way, no matter how terrible the crime, we should always be fair and honest. What the media has done to Pope Benedict XVI – one of the people on the planet doing the most to stop sexual abuse right now – is unconscionable. Just because some other person commits a horrific crime doesn’t give us the right to then implicate anyone else we’d like to, convict them, and libel them. That’s a great injustice and is counterproductive to helping keep children safe. We must stand up for the truth in both directions.

Scott April 6, 2010 at 3:37 pm

“But there is a lot of documented evidence to back up all of these claims.” Is there any non-Catholic evidence to back up the claims that Catholics are less likely to molest children?

Regarding Pope Benedict, the issue is not what he is doing now, as Pope, to combat sexual abuse in the church. The issue in all of the legal cases I have heard of is what he did or failed to do as prefect of the CDF, during the time when, according to your graph, there were much higher levels of sexual abuse.

Matthew Warner April 6, 2010 at 4:06 pm

Scott – please see my response to you below regarding the non-catholic sources. There are lots of them and very easily discovered if you were interested.

As far as the “legal cases you have heard of”, I recommend learning a bit more about them. I will refer you to Jimmy Akin’s set of posts (which I also linked to above in the post). They do a good job of getting down to the truth as best we can at this point. And the truth is that there is nothing for you to justifiably be making implications that he did anything in bad conscience regarding this scandal. Would you go around making such implications about your friend? Or a family member?…when you haven’t actually learned the facts of the case? I urge you to be a bit more fair minded about it.

If your true motive here is to keep children safe, punish the guilty and identify the real problems then we are on the same side. The Pope is on your side. The Church is on your side.

Some heathen April 6, 2010 at 9:36 pm

As far as everyone being held to a standard, consider this example:
If my boss gave me a deadline of 4/29 for some task, and I said “I’ll do one better and have that to you by 4/15” … but then I didn’t complete it until 4/25 … my boss would be upset, even though I met the original standard. And it’s reasonable for him to be upset.

Of course I totally agree that “sexual abuse of a child is just as horrific whether the person made a ‘vow’ not to do it in the first place or not.”

But when you have an institutional Church that claims to be the sole source of truth and moral authority for the world, and a sacramental priesthood whose members promise to hold themselves to a higher standard when they ordained … when priests fall short, naturally the media (or the world) is going to be more upset. That’s no excuse for libel of any sort, but such a story getting extra focus is not unreasonable.

For instance, the claim “But you’re part of an organization that holds it is the source of all moral good and your swore to not do this sort of thing!” is not a statement that someone would direct at, say, some unemployed alcoholic hillbilly-type guy who molested his daughter. By no means was Mr. Hillbilly’s action right, but in a sense, people just have naturally hold priests to higher standards.

I agree that “we should all be shooting for that highest standard whether we’ve taken a religious vow or not,” but I don’t think it’s “backwards” to hold those who have taken such vows to a higher standard of conduct.

Scott April 6, 2010 at 3:25 pm

“…the only remaining bastion of orthodox Christianity…”? Really? Well that shows in the first paragraph just how serious you are about taking a critical look at your own sect of Christianity, no matter how grevious the accusations against it.

The two links you provide as “sources” in the “Putting it in Perspective” section are 1) a Catholic university and 2) the Catholic League. Not exactly independent, unbiased sources. Now of course I don’t want to dismiss evidence simply because it comes from a Catholic source. But the real issue in this scandal is not really the sexual abuse itself; as you say, that happens everywhere. The real scandal is the apparent cover-up. If the President of the United States was accused of a cover-up, would you blindly accept claims from the White House that, actually, there was no scandal at all? In fact, there isn’t a single non-Catholic source cited anywhere in this post. How hard is it to find a non-Catholic who agrees with you?

Is there a reason the data in the graph stops in 2002? I’m aware the study you cite was conducted in 2002, but surely in the last eight years there has been at least some follow-up?

“But the Church is not a country and the Pope a president.”The primary defense of the Pope and his (lack of) actions as prefect of the CDF is that he is the current head-of-state of the Vatican, a country recognized by some 120+ other countries and the United Nations. Your statement seems to imply you think this protection should not apply, and prosecutions against Benedict in various countries should be allowed to continue on their merits. But for some reason I suspect I am being overly hopeful.

Ultimately, your early statement that “We don’t need to make excuses. And there is no justifying evil by pointing to other evil.” serves as an excellent outline to this post.

Matthew Warner April 6, 2010 at 3:57 pm

Scott – Those links very clearly cite lots of non-Catholic studies. I encourage you to take a look at them. There are numerous non-catholic sources for this information. In fact, in terms of the statistical data I presented, I haven’t found a credible study (Catholic or otherwise) that claims anything otherwise.

Shawna April 6, 2010 at 5:49 pm

I wish that all of the poor, unfortunate souls who were abused, and consequently left the Church, could read this. It sheds a light in the darkness.

Sebastian April 6, 2010 at 11:46 pm

I am sorry but no amount of statistics and figures are going to change what has happened and the loss of credibility the pope has wrought on himself by his actions. All the statistics are not going to help with the fact that the church tried to cover these things up and shuffled problem priests around for them to molest more children. It is good to have faith; however to stand up for something that is horrid and wrong just so the church does not have to question your place in the church is irresponsible of you. The church should be demanding transparency and for all the decisions. We the church should be outraged and demand the truth be released. The church should demand that the people in charge should be held accountable for their actions or lack there of.

All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.

Daniel April 22, 2010 at 7:38 am

I agree with you, Sebastian. Although, I do believe that the only way they are going to deal adequately with this terrible issue is to deal with it across the board instead of just seeing it as a Catholic thing. There is enough sin present that they need to begin dealing with it as a whole.

Joe Jordan April 7, 2010 at 7:17 am

Nice work Matt! Thanks for taking time to put this excellent article together. Valerie and I have worked with high school kids in parish youth programs since 1993 and have been teaching the Keeping Children Safe course to adults in the Fort Worth Diocese for about 7 years now. It’s a blessing to be able to help get these statistics out during those classes, but it’s also a blessing to hear the comments and feedback from so may of the great adults out there in our church doing wonderful work with kids every day in our churches. No one can defend the actions of ANY pedophile or anyone who would prey on a child, but it is wise to put things in perspective and be truthful about the condition of our society before starting to cast stones. Our main stream media is doing our country and the world a huge disservice on many level these days. Thanks for doing your part to spread the truth – good and bad. The Catholic Church will survive this latest scandal and continue as it always has for over 2000 years – as the Body of Christ in the current age.
Keep up the great work & God bless!

Artie April 10, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Matt, I love this quote, “It’s funny that the world kicks a man more for shooting for a higher standard and failing than the man who never tries in the first place.”

This is one of the many problems of society!

JC April 12, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Here’s something no one ever mentions, and I don’t know if it applies to many bishops, but it certainly applies to how John Paul II initially handled the situation:
St. John of the Cross
St. Gerard Majella
St. John Bosco
St. Pio of Pietrelcina
These are just four great saints who were falsely accused of sexual misconduct. We read their stories, and we are aghast at the “corrupt Carmelites” who imprisoned St. John of the Cross on false accusations. We laugh at the story of John Bosco turning the tables on the priests who tried to have him committed. We are confused by how one saint, Alphonsus Liguori, could put another saint, Gerard Majella, on trial for a false accusation. And so forth.

St. Pio, as many of his critics point out, was never even cleared of anything in a trial–Paul VI gave him a blanket pardon, saying, “I was never badly disposed towards Padre Pio, but I was badly informed.”

So John Paul II, who was quite obviously an admirer at the least of John of the Cross and Padre Pio, was inclined to believe that most accusations made against priests were false ones, and he did not want to go down in history as the “evil Pope” who oppressed some saint.

Ironically, by doing so, he facilitated the very culture that has seen abusers go free while saintly priests are even more virulently persecuted.

Sharon April 18, 2010 at 1:52 am

“We are confused by how one saint, Alphonsus Liguori, could put another saint, Gerard Majella, on trial for a false accusation”

JC could you provide a link to substantiate this please.

Catholic debating pro-life April 20, 2010 at 10:35 pm

This is fantastic.

Margarita January 11, 2011 at 3:53 am

For the longest time, I thought that if I had the ‘objectivity’ of someone from the ‘outside’ looking in would I be able to gain a clearer view of our faith. (I’ve always considered myself spiritual but ‘still’ Catholic) lately, I realized that I -do- need to hear the voices of people from my own faith (recently got into a sort of a religious ‘exchange’ online, and something told me I had to take up my Catholic identity more seriously) Thank you very much for posting this, and may God work through you more. :)))

katie March 1, 2011 at 5:39 pm

Thank you for this article. It explains a lot.

Ann March 1, 2011 at 5:43 pm

great article

kristin March 8, 2011 at 10:11 pm

i noticed u said ” in other words” and then repeated the same thing almost exactly….correct term would be “i repeat” not in other words

Matthew Warner March 8, 2011 at 10:34 pm

Not sure what you’re referring to, sorry.

Cathy April 4, 2011 at 10:17 am

I came upon your blog because I often feel so conflicted in why I’m still a Catholic — and I did stop going to mass for several years. The history of the Church is rough, and Showtime is bringing to light one of those really heinous periods right now — that of the Borgias and, of course, the lead Rodrigo Borgia, who became Pope. The massive corruption and ugliness in the Church started long before this and continued on — an obviously still exists. This particular article on your blog helps to bring it into perspective as why I would still remain a Catholic in spite of all the horror and rank hypocrisy through those 2,000 years. While I wish the hierarchy of the Church would come clean and do mea culpa for everything over the years — indeed, having real discussions about these acts rather than gloss over them or cover them up — I will stay because of the incredible good that is within the Church, the real faith that results in us caring for and truly loving each other.

But it is still tough. Henry VIII always considered himself a Catholic yet in one of the true instances in “The Tudors” one shudders when you see a young woman, whose only crime was not believing that the bread and wine is turned into the body and blood of Christ at mass, is brutally tortured, racked and then burned at the stake. Did his daughter Bloody Mary, do anything less, in later years? The weakness and ugliness of man, along with the pomp and circumstance that is anything but Christ-like — pomp and circumstance that still exists today in the hierarchy. I haven’t done much study, but is the Pope still considered infallible? I sure hope not. Considering the politics of the Church it seems a miracle that a man like John Paul II ever became pope. Another favorite of mine is John XXIII.

I guess I could go on and on, and all I really wanted to do was say thank for this article, because I was having a very bad day as a Catholic.

Matthew Warner April 4, 2011 at 10:35 am

God bless ya, Cathy! Thank you for your honesty and for reading the article. I know a lot of Catholics feel just like you do.

A few additional suggestions: I would be very careful about learning much (of anything, and particularly anything about the Catholic Church) from “showtime” and other main stream media. They RARELY get it right and are quite ready to play up some of the “facts” to make a more dramatic and entertaining villain out of the Catholic Church. That’s not to say there haven’t been popes or members of the Church who haven’t done terrible things. But they are very often misconstrued and TOTALLY taken out of the context of their day. And Catholic history is often victim to serious revisionist history on top of that. I would urge similarly in learning what the Church teaches regarding papal infallibility, as it appears there is a misunderstanding there, as well.

Also, there is this assumption in popular culture that the Church has glossed over the issue of the sexual abuse crisis (and any of the other issues you are referring to “over the years”) or that the Church hasn’t “come clean” or done a “mea culpa.” I’m just not sure where that comes from. Any honest look at the official statements the Church has made (and more importantly the actions she has taken) regarding these issues, especially our current pope, shows that in almost all cases she has done more than reasonably expected in terms of “coming clean” doing “mea culpas” and addressing problems. Is she perfect? of course not. Can we do better? Of course. But those that continue to tout the line that the Church glosses over these issues are simply not living in reality or giving a fair assessment of the situation. But the misconception is falsely repeated often enough that it has become a sort of “conventional wisdom” in our culture. But it’s simply not accurate.

And that’s not your fault directly, but I would encourage everyone who hasn’t to hear a few sides of the story on any of these things…and particularly the side of the party being accused.

Thanks for your wonderful comment, Cathy! Keep on trucking. Peace be with you.

Matt April 8, 2011 at 1:43 am

awesome article God bless bro

Patrick O’Malley June 27, 2011 at 9:06 am

You left out quite a few facts in your defense of the Catholic church by using the standard “look over there” excuse.

For one thing, no other organization in human history has had a consistent, organized approach to moving pedophiles around like the Catholic church has.

You also use the “about half” number, which is incorrect and misleading. Here is the truth:

The John Jay study that says 4% of priests were pedophiles. Here is why that 4% number is so dishonest:

– when they calculated the total number of priests, they added in ones that had only been a priest for a year or two in the 50 year study. The honest way to do the analysis would have been to only include priests that were there for the entire time of the study. If those were the only ones that were included, the number jumps to between 8-10%.

It gets worse than that, when you consider a bunch of other things, like:

1) the John Jay report was not an investigation. All of the information from the report was voluntary, and depended on the honesty of Catholic bishops, who are now known to be incredibly dishonest.

2) three percent (3%) of diocese refused to report. This obviously included the worst offenders. One that refused to report was Roger Mahony in Los Angeles, who then paid hush money to over 500 victims four years after the report.

3) most victims don’t come forward. This is the most sinister part. Children that were raped by priests grow up in shame, and don’t want people to know, especially since they know they will be accused of lying by the Catholic congregation. Child abuse psychologists estimate fewer than one in three will come forward.

Remember, God cares about the truth, and he cares about children. Today’s Catholic church doesn’t care about either.

Want this month’s proof? Look at the Bishop Finn case in Kansas City. He got a memo from a school principal a year ago about a pedophile priest. He ignored it, then obstructed justice when a computer tech found hundreds of child porn pictures on Fr Raigan’s computer.

Matthew Warner June 27, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Patrick – the standard “look over there” excuse? Come on man. I admit right there in the post the reason for giving the context. Do you not agree that we should start with a truthful assessment of reality when criticizing? If you disagree with the stats, fine. But that doesn’t mean it’s a “look over there” excuse. Whatsoever.

You make some interesting points, and I understand if you’re a bit personally angry about the topic. But you’ve shown no evidence of the claims you make (such as “no other organization in human history has had a consistent, organized approach to moving pedophiles around like the Catholic church”).

Also – since you mentioned being truthful and honest – you need to be more precise in your terminology. Pedophilia is a very small percentage of the sex abuse cases (most were ephebophilia and other sexual abuse) and the John Jay Study did not find that anywhere near 4% of priests were pedophiles – as you stated. If we’re going to be truthful and you’d like to argue such specifics to the study, then let’s be specifically accurate.

Additionally, I disagree with the way you’ve picked apart the stats. First, anyone can do that with any study. That’s the problem with statistics in the first place. Second, there have been no studies that support your claims. If there had, then picking apart a particular study that contradicted it might be somewhat productive. But, again, NO study has supported what you claim. Third, the same problems you cite for this study (reporting discrepancies and the percentage of abuse victims that don’t come forward, etc.) would also be factors when studying ANY other group on this subject…they are not unique to the Catholic Church. So when comparing the likelihood of a Catholic priest committing sexual abuse vs an average male, teacher, preacher or any other person in a position of authority, Catholic priests still are less likely. Again, there have been nothing to suggest otherwise besides media hype, biased reporting, anti-catholicism and emotionally charged opinions – which I hope are not what you are basing your points on here.

Yes, God cares about the Truth. And no institution, however flawed it may be, has ever consistently defended and cared about the truth as the Catholic Church. I understand the emotion. But being angry doesn’t justify spreading misinformation or maligning an entire billion member organization and thousands of the most inspiring and holy priests and leaders on the planet because they happen to share a faith with some (really) bad apples.

I’m happy to discuss the finer points of this. But this won’t be a place to just trash and malign entire organizations unjustly.

Thank you and peace be with you.

Stephen July 11, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Hi. Another interesting read. The third link (to Catholic League) is dead… anyone found the document referred to?

Kyle July 26, 2012 at 7:31 pm

While the mainstream media and most Atheist claim to be for justice their actions behind their words against the church shows more of a thirst for revenge which never goes well when someone gets to that point in life where all they feel is revenge for all the wrong doings.

Judge them by the fruits they bear is what I say.

Sometimes you will find a decent Atheist discussion where there isn’t that revenge but usually somewhere in their discussion they throw in that revenge to make all churches look bad and Atheistim as the ultimate view. They’re just pretty damn clever at wording it.

When this baby hits 88mph you’re going to see some serious crap.

sage September 13, 2012 at 12:39 am

This is an old piece from 2010 but I haven’t read it before.
Matthew, please show me that you are an open minded man. Read this piece you wrote defending the church and substitute “Planned Parenthood” where you write “church”.

Gabriel October 23, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Excellent article! Do I have your permission to translate it to Spanish? I want to share this with my friends.

Matthew Warner October 24, 2012 at 8:46 am

Sure! Go for it, Gabriel! Thanks for sharing.

Allie December 7, 2012 at 3:07 pm

Thank you so much for this writing! I found this to be the best response on the internet that I have come across. This is going to help me explain to my boyfriends parents why I am still Catholic and will remain Catholic after the scandal. Their entire family left the Church after and cannot understand why I stayed. The main reason why I stayed Catholic and will remain is because I am proud of my faith and to be a follower and a believer in Jesus Christ. Nothing can change the fact that I am Catholic and I am so happy that there are many other people out there that believe that as well!

lozen March 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm

Give me truth; cheat me by no illusion.

You see how wide the gulf that separates me from the Christian Church. . . .

PokerLawyer April 12, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I would very much recommend the book Rediscover Catholicism by Matthew Kelly (http://bit.ly/ZRE1HF) to anyone struggling with anger at the Church. I appreciated reading this post and am currently in the middle of Kelly’s book. I also happen to be a gay Catholic (not that it matters, but the Church’s [public] stance on its gay sons and daughters is certainly one reason I was away for so long). At any rate, thank you for the post.

dan April 19, 2013 at 1:57 pm

Interesting that my comments were take off? Why?

Ms. M May 7, 2013 at 2:11 pm

This reminds me of being a teacher. There are undoubtedly so many teachers who abuse their positions, but there are many more like me who are in the classroom to help children. I dedicated ten years of my life serving the poor, but I was limited in what I could do. One on one tutoring after school? I was willing, but I was warned never to have a child alone in my room lest I be accused of abuse. If a five year old was crying, could I put him/her on my lap. I was warned by teachers not to. It would be my word against the word of others. Yes, there will be a bad apple in every field. What a shame the rest of us can’t serve at the level we would like.

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