The Catholic Abuse Scandals, Inside and Out
Published on: September 28, 2011
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  • Pope Benedict runs the world’s largest pedophile protection program. Thousands of priests raped tens of thousands of children, and Catholic bishops all hid it, consistently, world-wide. Now the ICC is suing them, as they should, for international crimes against children. Benedict was in charge of the cover-up since the 1980s, when he handled that specific duty for John Paul II.

    He should be imprisoned for the rest of his life. Imagine if he were CEO of a Chucky Cheese Restaurant, and employees were raping thousands of children worldwide, and the management knew about it. Management hid it, and that knowledge went all the way up to the CEO, and he concealed the truth about it and moved those pedophiles around to rape others.

    Customers would boycott Chucky Cheese and have every manager thrown in jail.

    We can’t expect the Catholic church to rise to the standards of Chucky Cheese, but they should at least have to follow the basic laws of humanity and the laws of the land.

  • Jim.

    Christians are supposed to be countercultural, Peter. Would you burn incense to Caesar?

    The lesson that the Catholic Church needs to learn from this is that there is no “benefit of clergy” to shield them from the powers of temporal justice that God has, in fact, vested in the governments of this world.

    The fact is that this spirit of “compromise” is misguided in the extreme. The guidance that is needed is in the portions of the Bible that this age has been ignoring, not in the “wisdom” of the world.

    In the meantime, perhaps the forces of darkness get to play modern-day Vikings and sack churches. It was ever thus. The faithful will pick up the pieces and rebuild. It was ever thus, as well.

  • Michael

    I’m less inclined to blame homosexuality, theology or celibacy than a bureaucratic mindset among specific church officials. I’m not Catholic, but it seems to me that someone who’s more concerned with butt-covering than with caring for vulnerable parishioners and mentally-ill clergy needs removed from his office regardless of the church he’s in.

  • Amos

    Celibate bachelor theologians have always seen Jesus as a sexually listless and lust hating Redeemer. This ideology has had lifelong and lethal consequences for many who came under the dominion of their corrupt belief.

  • The crisis is that the Roman Catholic Church throughout the World has allowed this evil to continue for how many millenium(s)???..But we never knew about it. AND…..

    We know NOW, through Instant Communication(Internet) what many thought were just local problems, with just a problem priest in the local parish. It is “A Global EVIL that has more tentacles than the biggest evil, sick, monster ever thought of by most normal church going people.

    It’s hard to believe that the clergy( priests, nuns and brothers) could ever sexually abuse the weakest of the weak in this world. Our precious childern, the handicapped, the marginalized, the illegal immigrants, the childhood felons,the orphans, the divorced, the unstable mentally.

    This must be erradicated! How?? By the faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ!!!(and not faithful to a man made institution) There is a Great Difference. GET OUT!

    The International Crininal Court is where they should be prosecuted by all Freedom Loving People. The Truth will st YOU Free,of the EVIL>!

  • I am a sociologist who greatly admires Peter Berger, but I am also the president of the Catholic League. While I very much appreciate his tone, there are several areas of contention in his piece. Please let me know where to mail him some material that challenges some of his assumptions. Thanks.

    Bill Donohue

  • el donaldo

    By saying he is “president of the Catholic League,” Mr. Donohue is apparently claiming that he has a fax machine and preprinted cover sheet. This isn’t news, but I hadn’t realized that he claimed to be a sociologist as well. That he is an apologist for child rapists is all anybody really needs to now.

  • Mary

    The implication of this article is that the Church should change its self understanding. I find that stupid, even from a Sociological perspective. The Church’s self-understanding is that it was created by Jesus Christ. To change its self-understanding would mean that we ignore Scripture and that we ignore our identity. Berger puts forth that celibacy is a problem at the same time he argues that others also abuse. Many, many of these others are in other sexual relationships. One also wonders whether John XXIII was as liberal as people claim him to be. Comparing his “liberal” writings to the Popes that follow really show him to be the same “conservative”. A little imagination, sociologically speaking, might have further informed Peter Berger, meaning that there is a God and perhaps there really are fundamental tenents of our paradigm that we call faith that just really cannot be blown out of the open window.

  • Kenny

    The homoified clergy (and probably hirearchy, too) has done great damage to the Catholic Church. Not only is it responsible for the sexual scandals and cover-ups, but also for the watering down of traditional Church teaching across an entire spectrum of issues & beliefs.

    To excuse their perversion, the modernistic clergy has subtly introduced its new thinking into the Church that there is no sin (with the exception, perhaps, of political incorrectness) and no damnation.

    All this is rather transparently self-serving, don’t you think?

  • R. Smith

    Interesting, however I would like to know where Mr. Berger gets his stats regarding instances of abuse in Catholic vs. Protestant clergy. I have seen evidence which proports the opposite.
    Also, on what do you base your opinion of celibacy? Is it anecdotal…because numerous studies indicate that there is no link to celibacy and child abuse (the obvious fact is that that overwhelming incidents of child abuse are from parents).
    Thank you.

  • Garret

    It seems like Patrick O’Malley is fixated on imprisoning pope Benedict XV1 with evidence very much to the contrary, for enabling and covering up global cases of abuse. This present pope since his days as cardinal head of the CDF has been part of a reforming movement within the Church to expedite the penalization of proven abusers and justice for the abused. For example, he battled against internal resistance within Vatican congregations in 2005, to punish Fr Macial, the founder of the Legion of Christ religious order, for proven abuse of seminarians and minors. He has considerably tightened up canon law to remove loopholes that pedophiles within priestly ranks can use to escape penalties.
    What sources did Peter Berger use in respect of his claim that there are more abusers within the ranks of the Catholic Church than protestant faith communities? I have read surveys which suggest that on average there are more abusers within the latter churches than the former. For example,Insurance companies in the US that cover Protestant churches say that collectively they handle about 260 cases every year. This far exceeds the number of cases that have occurred in the Catholic Church.

  • Sean

    I am with Bill Donohue here. Peter Berger has tried to be fair minded but seems to have important facts wrong. First, there is no evidence that Catholic clergy are more prone to sexually abuse children than other clergy. In fact, there are higher instances of it among Protestant clergy. Second, it is homosexuality rather than celibacy that seems to be one of the most important factors. Third, the Catholic Church is now one of the safest places for children.

  • Joe R

    In my opinion the Catholic Church is an easy target for it’s transgressions because of it’s teachings of moral and responsible sexual behavior and the obvious hypocrisy that has been uncovered. The media frenzy over this story has made it seem as though priests are nothing more than sexually depraved perverts. This, of course, couldn’t be any further from the truth. I have been Catholic all my 51 years, gone through Catholic school, been an alter boy, have associated and befriended many priests, even spent two years in the seminary and never once was I ever approached. I am certainly not discounting or downplaying anyone’s claim of molestation, I’m just saying we all have our own experiences. With that said this whole ordeal has nothing to do with being a priest (or any clergy) or a lay person. It has nothing to do with being celibate or active. It has nothing to do with being single or married. It has nothing to do with being homo or heterosexual. It all has to do with opportunity and gaining the trust of teens and preteens, the most trusting and vulnerable of people, in order to fulfill some sick fantasy. Children will do and believe practically anything we (adults) tell them. And many adults are very manipulating and can rationalize and mask the most evil intentions. This is not only found in priests, but teachers, coaches, moms, dads, aunts, uncles anyone who comes in contact with children. The responsible adults now have to be more vigilant than ever before and then take action immediately. It is very hard, next to impossible, to determine who has these tendencies until it is usually too late.

  • Tamquam

    I am a priest who resigned from the active ministry right before the scandal broke. While in the seminary I was aware that there was a problem and was horrified and infuriated that the spineless bishops did *nothing* to clean it up prior to the scandal becoming public. Personally I have never found children sexually attractive (other than the odd 16 year old hottie). I kept my hands off of their mommies, aunties and big sisters, much to the latter’s disappointment, because I understood very well the kind of damage those kinds of relationships can cause, for which I would be required to render an account on a day not of my choosing. Fortunately no one I worked with ever caused any suspicion that such wickedness was going on.

    What I did discover was an astounding degree of child abuse in the general population which neither the Catholic nor virtually any other church was prepared to address. I was and did, which, I am fairly certain (no one tells you these things, you have to read between the silences), prompted a marginalization which was one cause of my resignation. Until the Church gets this mess cleaned up there is little hope that they will be able to effectively address sexual abuse in the larger culture.

    It is true that the all-male clergy fosters and conceals homosexual behavior among the minority so inclined, it is not the cause of it. Many, I suspect, enter the priesthood precisely to excise those troubled parts of themselves that only grace can remedy. Alas, it doesn’t work that way. Some, I fear, enter to avail themselves of the opportunities available to a wolf in shepherd’s clothing.

    Responsibility must ultimately be laid at the feet of the bishops who so sordidly and spectacularly failed their charge. I am sure that there are still some who are operating in the the old ‘see no evil’ way. May God quickly deliver us from them. Since new guidelines have been issued there are many courageous bishops who are acting forcefully and effectively to remove predators from the ranks of their clergy and heal the wounds as best as may be. I am also sure that there are those in halls of the Vatican who failed their duty; these men should be removed form their office and be remanded to the civil authorities to face judgement for their crimes. Based on the information available to me I have no reason to think that Ratzinger was among them, quite the contrary.

    Unfortunately the whole approach to the scandal, both from the media who seek to use it to discredit the Church’s opposition to the ‘Progressive’ agenda, and within the Church which wants to look at the ‘Priest’ issue, a larger truth is lost. Neither punishment of the guilty nor monetary compensation, however emotionally satisfying, heals the wounds of the victim. Sadly, I don’t see this being adquately addressed by anyone. It is as if we’re saying, “OK, we got the perp, here’s your dough, now get lost.” Much more than this is needed if justice is to be done.

  • Oh my, there is utterly NO discussion of the obvious elephant in the room: the massive failure of these “versions” of Christianity to effectively transform people into moral beings. Simply put, if it isn’t working for some of the “professionals”, then what are the people involved willing to change to get it to work?

  • Jane Doe

    The people who froth at the mouth over pedophile priests are completely indifferent to the welfare of children. If they cared even a tiny bit, they would be demanding that nearly all teachers in the Western hemisphere be barred forever from working with children. But in fact, they do not care in the slightest if every child in the world is raped, just so long as they can attack religion. This is summed up in Ann Coulter’s Godless:

    “In her report for the U.S. Department of Education, Shakeshaft says that about one in every ten American children has been sexually abused in some way at school.

    Compare that with Catholic priests. A study by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops sai that 10,667 allegations of sexual abuse of children had been made between 1950 and 2002. Multiply that by four to account – generously – for unreported cases and it comes to 821 children abused by priests per year. Priests: 820 abused children per year; educators: 32,000 abused children per year. For those of you who went to public schools, 32,000 is greater than 820.”

  • Kris

    In August 2011 a so-called Priests’ Initiative, supported by more than 300 Catholic priests in Austria, openly stated their intention to disobey the Church on a series of matters—the ordination of women to the priesthood, the right of priests to carry out their vocation even if they are married and have children, the admission to communion of divorced people who have remarried, and the right of lay people to preach and lead services.

    I am reminded of the following passage on J. Robert Oppenheimer from James Gleick’s Genius : “Presiding over a committee dinner at a steakhouse, he expected his companions to follow his lead in specifying rare meat; when one man tried to order well-done, Oppenheimer turned and said considerately, “Why don’t you have fish?”

  • As a Byzantine Catholic layman who has had to deal with married clergy, I confidently say that, at least in the US, the Church is entirely unprepared for it were the discipline to be relaxed to permit it in the Roman Rite. The rectories aren’t set up for it for one. A building set up with small apartments for four celibate priests and a common kitchen in a large urban parish are going to have issues when 4 wives are added to the mix, each with their own ideas on how to organize said kitchen. Remember, the wives didn’t take a vow.

    Even the people who are pushing this change have entirely left the role of the priest’s wife unconsidered. And let’s not forget the large numbers of children (and their inevitable misbehaviors) generated by a parish priesthood that does not use birth control. Costs will rise as each parish will have to support more people and the Romans will have to develop their own accommodation for what to do when a priest’s immediate family member steps out of bounds.

    Another issue is the increase in influence of the monastic orders as the diocesan bishops will be exclusively picked from the monastics going forward which is exactly how it’s been done for the last millenium in the Eastern Rites. This isn’t necessarily bad or good, just one more thing that most anti-celibacy advocates have not considered.

    It can be made to work. My Church and the rest of the Eastern Catholic Churches are living proof of it. But there are a lot of unconsidered changes to go along with the positives and it saddens me to see the proposals to change the Roman Rite’s celibacy rule done in such a haphazard, poorly considered way.

  • HGP

    The report on the American abuse of minors said over 80% of the abused were pubescent BOYS. Homosexuals went into the priesthood because they did not have to explain why they were single and not married, it gave them access to prey (young boys) and they gave up nothing because they were not attracted to women. The Catholic Church has said that sodomites should not be ordained but there are some still being ordained and some of them have been moved up to bishop and even cardinal level.There needs to be more psychological testing to weed them out. Sodomy is a sociopathic sexual deviancy. Abuse of children is more prevalent in the United States in public schools by teachers than in the Catholic Church.

  • Why do bishops cover up? It’s not to protect a bureaucracy– they really do believe the Catholic Church is the way to salvation. So, if publicizing an episode of predatory behavior serves only to scandalize and weaken the faith of others, why would they want to publicize it? The situation is bad enough as it is, and it’s their natural desire to limit the damage. Also, everyone tiptoes around the issue of homosexuality. Something like 80% of the abused are male. The same people who want the church to be more proactive in preventing sexual abuse would never, say, commend the Boy Scouts for banning gay scoutmasters.

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