Wednesday, August 1, 2007


One way to give an angry horse a shot in her rump is to distract her at the other end. Some people use a twitch: a short stick with rope on the end that loops around the horses lip drawing all the horse’s attention forward. At that point you could march a band across her hindquarters and she wouldn’t care.

As horrendous as the Church scandal has been and as necessary as the pain in revealing has been, it was good that it happened. Some justice has been served. Safeguards have been put in place. We have more realistic expectations of priests as men, and consequently “Church” is a much safer and holier place to be. I do not even suggest for a moment that the burning torch should be removed from our feet. But the limited and focused attention on the Church is hurting children elsewhere. People are unaware that it is a national crisis, not a Catholic one

For example, because many Protestant denominations do not have a “central nervous system” the way that the Catholic Church does, determining the amount of abuse that is prevalent there is difficult. One researcher however looked into all the claims filed by insurance companies against ministers and employees of all the denominations and found that the incident rate was in fact much higher than the whole of the Catholic Church. But what is being done? There is not even an awareness

One of the sad parts of this tale as told by “The Priest” magazine is that it is often much more difficult to stop in the denominations than it is in the Catholic Church. An example of this would be the Southern Baptists. SNAP, the organization that helps those abused by Catholic priests, recently protested at the Southern Baptist Convention, the largest Protestant group in the Unites States, the second largest collection of Christians in this country after the Catholic Church.

“The Priest” reports they demanded, “steps be taken to bring before the public eye, and sanction, Baptist ministers who have sexually abused youths.” Unfortunately for them (and children) Southern Baptists are not organized in such a fashion. It is a very much “me and God” Christianity. Conventions are not places were legislation takes place; it is a time to share ideas and resources. There is no governing body the way we understand such a thing as Catholics. There are no tools to prevent a person who has been fired from one church for misconduct with a youth from getting a job with another congregation

Further the general public can also be gleefully unaware of the terrifying degree to which children are being molested in the public school system and other programs geared toward children. “The Priest” reports on a psychiatrist saying even that “incest is becoming epidemic” in our country.
By no means leave the Church off of the radar screen. We are being purified by fire and to an injured world hopefully we can once again be seen as a safe refuge. But I say that those who focus solely, intently, and with political motivation on the Catholic Church are hurting our children. They have a twitch on the lip of the public and a band of sexual abusers are marching en mass across their rump. It’s time to get off of the agenda and focus on children wherever they are abused, not just in the Catholic Church.


Anonymous said...

Stated excruciatingly well. Maybe it was my pride, but it had once seemed ludicrous for all those who've never been accused of abuse to also be the ones to go through the fingerprinting and seminars and instruction on it all if they're going to be teaching the faith or near students in any way, but we who would indeed pass on the faith will certainly go through such crap and far more to help protect kids, and to at least try to assure those who were not protected that it won't happen to others.

There was, and is, far more threat as you say from others who aren't police-able. One 4th grade student preparing for the Sacrament of Reconciliation disappeared from classes, and not even the RE Director could nail down why. It all broke, as did all our hearts, the day his father was arrested. Dad, after unsatisfactory botherings of his developmentally-delayed daughter who'd at least once had heart surgery, and who bore strange bruises seen in girls' junior high gym classes, had not only molested him and his brother, but had lent him out to their uncle. That, of course, made less of a potentially lucrative headline generated by lawyers on behalf of victims than any clerical abuse here, and not even the investigation, arrest and conviction of a high school chemistry teacher here who'd orally raped a teen brought a shadow upon school systems, except to jog the need for fingerprinting, now, and what should've always been a thorough background check and wasn't. Teachers, however, were not all looked at askance because of this one or the other handful of criminals we've heard of.

There is always going to be someone to prey on children, and similar to what you state, if we're, say, concentrating too much attention on one bishop's or one eparch's refusal of an outside audit of safeguards rather than seeing the whole picture of wherever is genuine and even greater threat, we are missing seeing where help is vitally needed. It is indeed children who are paying for that folly.

Anonymous said...

I've been away for a week getting another MBA (actually, helping my sister with her MBA classes...although it does seem like I'm back in school). Now I'm playing 'catch-up'...

Abuse, no matter what form, is intrinsically evil. It is, what I call, a coward's crime. It not only affects, in this blog, the children, but also the families, friends, and generations to come. It is one of the few crimes that, when perpetrated, explodes like wildfire...seeping through society into other forms of evil, be it theft, drugs, alcohol, eating disorders, etc. It is passed down from generation to generation.

What I find most troubling is the secrecy and deception. I was abused at 7 by a cousin. My family and I just recently (over 35 years later), discovered that some of my other extended family members were also abused by the same person. You hear your parents telling you, "when something happens, tell an adult". I did...I told his dad, who laughed it off and basically told me his son would not do anything like that. My other family members did not tell their parents because they didn't think they would believe them.

Keep in mind that the Catholic church has only recently dug into this issue. Also keep in mind that less than 10% of all abuse cases are reported. For me, this is one of the few crimes, especially when dealing with children, that I have a really hard time not believing in corporal punishment. name this time.