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Question Title Posted By Question Date
Catholics Response to Sex Scandals Joe Friday, March 21, 2008


I always wonder when i read books like that of Ralph Sarchie's "Beware the Night" about how the author would deal with the question of the part that apparently numerous catholic priests played or took part in very improper sexual conduct and touching with children in their custody?

I thought when these stories were first hitting the media - how could this extensive sort of abuse happen in a church so dedicated to truth and justice et al? Any thoughts would be appreciated this question has always troubled me.

Question Answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary, OLSM

Dear Joe:

Well you are misinformed. We need to remember that the media is not in the business of telling the truth, but in getting ratings to make money.

The "extensive" sex scandal in the Catholic Church is a fantasy invention of a bigoted media. There is no "extensive" sex sandal in the Catholic Church. There is a sex scandal but only about 1% of the priests in the United States are involved. While even one priest involved in a sex scandal is one too many 1% does not constitute "extensive."

A study just last week reported that school teachers molest children 100 times more than priests.

A study a number of years ago found that 66% of the molesting cases involving professionals were among the professions of psychiatry, psychology, and social work. 11% were clergy of all types.

Several years ago the Evangelical magazine, "Christianity Today", published a report that revealed the 30% of the Evangelical Protestant pastors "admit" to improper sexual exploitation of their parishioners.

Sexual abuse has been reported in nearly all denominations -- even among the Amish. There is nothing particular about the Catholic Church on this and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is LESS not more than most other groups.

This does not excuse anyone, especially a priest, from molesting anyone, but we need to get a perspective here. And we need to wonder why there is no media blitz about the mental health/social work profession who molests more children than all other professionals combined.

Also, very few of the priests who were involved in any sexual impropriety were pedophiles. A pedophile is a person who has a sexual attraction primarily or exclusively to pre-pubescent children and not to adults. Nearly all the victims of priests were teenagers, not pre-pubescent children. The proper term for those attracted to teenagers instead of to adults is hebephile.

I might add, as an sidebar, an isolated instance of molesting a child is NOT pedophilia. To be a pedophile, according to the Psychiatric manual one must, among other things, be involved in this activity recurrently and for more than six months and have no or little interest in adults. Some of the people who have molested children were isolated cases, and some of the perpetrators also had sexual interest in adults; thus those particular individuals cannot be classified as pedophiles.

Hebephiles are people whose sexual interests are primarily or exclusively teenagers. Hebephilia is not listed in the Psychiatric manual since attraction to teenagers is considered normal. Most people have an attraction to both teenagers and adults but with a preference to adults.

The problem arises when attraction to teenagers becomes the primary or exclusive sexual interest. This is usually handled in psychiatry as an obsession rather than a sexual paraphilia.

Legally, however, most states make it a crime to have sex with persons under sixteen. In many cultures, however, girls may marry as early as thirteen. That was true even here in the United States not too long ago.

As for how this can happen in a Church? Well, the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a resort for saints, as one Baptist preacher once said. We are all sinners. Even the Pope is a sinner. The Pope goes to confession weekly. People sin, priests sin, bishops sin.

The Church teaching remains the same, however, and is never changed because some of its priests, bishops, or even Popes, sin.

Sexual exploitation, molesting, and the like is grave sin. Those who do it need to be held accountable to God, the Church, and to the civil law. The victims should be treated with compassion and caring and assisted in any reasonable way.

It is also a sin, however, to exploit the sex scandal situation by suing the Church (any Church) to gain lots of money out of greed or revenge. This is exploitation too that hurts many people who are deprived of the Church's resources in charity because of greedy law suits. This motivation has been seen many times in the false claims that have been made against priests and bishops, in the huge settlements that serve only greed and revenge, and in the attitudes of the people who sue and their attorneys. Greed and revenge is sin. Proper justice is okay.

Ultimately, the Church seeks to minister care and healing to the victims and to seek rehabilitation, reconciliation, and forgiveness for the perpetrator. This is what Christ calls us to do.

Oh, that reminds me, about the lie that once a molester always a molester. That is another media invention. The FACT is that after a sex offender is released from prison they are the LEAST likely to commit another crime compared to ANY other criminal.

That has been found in study after study after study for more than forty years. The most recent study was in 2003 by the Department of Justice that confirms this fact.

Bottonline: get the facts and do not presume as true the propaganda in the popular media.

By the way, while I am thinking of it, to offer another example of how incompetent the media is in "reporting" anything, let alone anything about the Church -- In 1991 I watched a speech on C-Span of President Bush (the 1st) concerning the first war in the Gulf. A couple of hours later the Evening News was broadcast. I do not remember which Network, but it would have been either NBC or CBS. I was watching the network news with my father. The newscaster reported on the President's speech. What the news anchor reported was an outright lie. I looked over at my father an told him that I saw that speech live and unedited on C-Span a couple hours earlier and what President Bush said was NOTHING like what the Evening News reported.

Do not trust the popular media to report what the calendar date is accurately let alone anything to do with religion, and especially not when it concerns the Catholic Church.

God Bless,
Bro. Ignatius Mary

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