If only rabbis, scout leaders, nurses, and cops weren’t celibate…

Oh wait, they aren’t. Then how to explain this recent child porn bust in the New York area? At least 70 people were arrested. The evidence collected included:

[T]he seizure of nearly 600 desktop and laptop computers, tablets, smartphones and other devices containing a total of 175 terabytes of storage.

The critique surrounding the clergy abuse scandals in the Catholic Church has been largely based on the celibacy requirement for priests in the Roman Catholic Church. The reasoning was somewhat Freudian (neo Freudian?), namely that if priests were able allowed to be sexually active, these abuses would not have occurred. Celibacy was seen as the problem, even the source of the abuse. Some defenders of the Church tried to rebut it. But there’s nothing like the ongoing review of the Catholic Church to witness how low is the rate of child sexual abuse in the Church. The 2013 Annual Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People reports that there were 9 credible allegations of abuse for behavior that began in 2013.


Could there be other cases of abuse? Sadly, yes. But there is a comprehensive system in place to facilitate the protection of minors and the reporting of abusers.

Should there even be 9 cases of abuse? No, not given what we profess in our faith. But we have about 40,000 priests; so that means that that less than 0.0225% of all Catholic clergy (diocesan and religious) were accused of a credible allegation in 2013.

Sounds to me like the Catholic Church is doing something right. Other professions don’t have that rate. There was the famous government funded study in 2004 that concluded that nearly 10% of all public school students were the victims of “educator sexual misconduct.” To date, I’ve yet to hear of the Department of Education going through the extensive corrections that the Catholic Church in US took upon itself.

There are millions of children that come into contact with the Catholic Church every day. That there were only 9 credible allegations of abuse for 2013 shows that the system is working. Hopefully, it will work even better in the future.

But meanwhile, perhaps these other professions should take a cue from the handling of the abuse scandal by the Catholic Church in the US?

  • awotter

    The main scandal was not pedophilia or inappropriate heterosexual relations with young women it was that the Church turned a blind eye to homosexuals preying on adolescent males and that began in seminaries. That is well documented but you will never see it acknowledged because the other narrative serves so many anti-Catholic agendas.

    • faithandfamilyfirst

      Yes, when the Church (under Benedict) finally kicked out the homosexuals, and prevented them from entering seminary, the problem reversed itself. The great 500-pound gorilla in the room is the fact that homosexual conduct played the greatest role in the so-called priest scandal. That is a fact, but one that does not fit the current narrative.

      • Tlynn

        Wow, just wow. Are you saying that it was only homosexuals that were abusing children in the church? Where is your proof of this? You ever wonder why Catholics become non Catholics in droves? Reread what you just wrote.

        • donttouchme

          Wow just wow. As someone else already pointed out in these comments, the vast majority of the crimes was men molesting teenage boys. That’s abuse of teens by homosexuals, not pedophilia. If people were more rational they would be worried about what percentage of homosexuals are abusers, not what percentage of priests are.

  • gigi4747

    I’m a faithful Catholic, but I’m not sure other professions need to take a lesson from the Church here. The Catholic hierarchy only did ANYTHING about this issue because of relentless pressure from outside the Church. And then canonizes a man who seemed to have more sympathy for those who covered up the crimes, like Bernard Law, than for the victims. I’m a nurse and we already have a code of ethics that seems to be a lot more stringent than what the bishops are held to.

    As long as someone like Robert Finn is allowed to act as bishop of a diocese, the Church is still remiss in addressing this issue. The Church continues to squander its moral authority protectng wrongdoers.

    • Rosemary

      Unfortunately, two registered nurses were picked up for child pornography in the recent arrests – and one mom who used her young son.

      This is a pestilence that shows no partiality – code of ethics or not.

      • gigi4747

        Hi, Rosemary: The contention here is that other professions can take a lesson from the way the Church handled the sex crimes among priests. I disagree. The Church only acted due to outside pressure. And so far, as far as I’m aware, no bishop has been disciplined by the Vatican for what was ultimately a worse betrayal than the abuse, ie, the cover up.

        • Frank

          Benedict XVI removed or forced the retirement of an average of one bishop per month throughout his Papacy for disciplinary reasons. The Church normally does not publicize such matters, and the “mainstream media” would ignore it if she did publicize them. These figures and others were only revealed recently because of the UN’s nosing around.

          • gigi4747

            I didn’t know that about Benedict. Disciplinary reasons related to the abuse crimes? Maybe the Vatican should publicize this kind of information. It would help to restore people’s trust in the Church if they did.

          • Rosemary

            If you read more of the international Catholic media, you will get a better picture of the situation. It has been well reported at Catholic Culture, also.

          • RuariJM

            You didn’t know that about Benedict?

            You may not be as well-informed as you think.

            You might wish to review your assertion that the Church did nothing. You should maybe go back and review the way the Church behaved at the peak of what Benedict famously called ‘this filth’. Its practice of moving people about and apparently believing these sexual predators could be ‘cured’ was the wisdom of the time. We know that is a load of crap and the consequences have been shocking but it was the age of Kinsey; people believed that rubbish.

          • gigi4747

            You misread what I wrote. I didn’t say the Church did “nothing.” The Church did act, but only after relentless pressure from outside itself, like the media and the legal system. If the hierarchy had done the right thing to begin with, which it didn’t, and I believe still continues to fail as long as Robert Finn retains his position, I’d agree the Church set a great example.

            And do you really believe that any adult man ever honestly thought that sex offenders could be cured? You’re more trusting than me, evidently. I think that for the most part, as long as the bishops had a piece of paper in hand from some joke Catholic therapist, they felt it was enough to cover themselves.

        • Rosemary

          That is true, Gigi4747, but you refer to a code of ethics that makes it it sound like a kind of force field against immoral behavior, which it is not.
          I disagree that no bishop has been held to account. As stated below, many bishops have quietly resigned, about three every week during Benedict’s papacy. Some for reasons of age and illness but many for episcopal incompetence. Many bishops like Card. O’Brien of Glasgow have been removed in Europe. You can easily check that out. it is a remarkable “house cleaning” that Benedict did – for which he has been given little credit. He virtually cleared out the episcopacy of Ireland as well. The Catholic Herald of the UK has good info on this.

    • guest

      Thank you for being a decent human being as well as a Catholic.

  • Shaun G. Lynch

    I’m not sure I can entirely agree with your suggestion that other professions can learn from the Catholic Church on this subject. From what I’ve been able to discern, the “problem” of pedophilia in the Church was actually never as widespread as the media made it appear, probably because the overwhelmingly vast majority of men who choose the priesthood would never, ever even contemplate engaging in such abuse. I suspect that that naiveté left bishops ill-prepared to deal appropriately when abuse was revealed. I agree that things have improved, but I’m not sure they were all that bad to begin with.

    On the other hand, cases of pedophilia — heterosexual and homosexual — are much more widespread in educational and sports organizations for one simple reason: pedophiles seek out opportunities to have unsupervised access to children. Becoming a priest is a pretty big commitment for someone who just wants to get his rocks off. Barriers to entry are much lower if one seeks to be a teacher, a coach or a scout leader.

    So I do agree that the requirement for priestly celibacy has little or no significance as a causal factor for pedophiliac behaviour. (In fact, there are enormously more cases of priests breaking their celibacy vows with adult women than with children of either gender.)

    • MillerJM

      It seems to be a huge problem in the television in film industry as well, if you’ve seen any of the revelations in Hollywood and the BBC this past year. Parties in which the child actors are passed around. The terrible irony of this is that these are exactly the folks that would slam the Church.

      • InDogITrust

        The irony is, it’s not Hollywood that claims to represent God and to dictate morals.

    • Rosemary

      Pedophiles also look for single moms with little kids. Most pedophiles are married men with their own children or step-children.

    • InDogITrust

      “I suspect that that naiveté left bishops ill-prepared to deal appropriately when abuse was revealed.”
      Naiveté? really? How much worldly experience does it take to think “I will call the police” when learning of child abuse?

      “I agree that things have improved, but I’m not sure they were all that bad to begin with.”

      How many children have to be raped for it to be all that bad? What’s the quota of cover-ups before it’s all that bad? How many abusive priest do you have to transfer before it’s all that bad? Or is all that bad based on the number of transfers per priest? How long can you stonewall criminal investigations before it’s all that bad? How many pages of redacted or incomplete files amounts to all that bad?

      • Shaun G. Lynch

        When I said “not all the bad” I wasn’t implying that there’s ANY number of child abuse cases is good. I meant that the problem was nowhere near as widespread and pervasive as media reporting might suggest. Catholics have for decades now been confronted by people like comedian and political commentator Bil Maher (of whom I’m otherwise a fan) who imply, both seriously and in jest, that the Catholic priesthood is a nest of pedophiles. (In fact, research indicates that the the prevalence of pedophilia within the Catholic priesthood is at the same level as that found in the general population.)

        As for your question, “How much worldly experience does it take to think ‘I will call the police’ when learning of child abuse?,” I think you are being overly simplistic.

        It’s easy to be an armchair quarterback when you’re far removed in time and place from the abuse. But it takes only a small measure of empathy to put yourself in the shoes of a bishop confronted with this situation.

        First, keep in mind that most of these cases date back several decades so, for the most part, we’re not talking about current bishops. We’re looking at men who were likely trained and ordained as far back as the 1940s or even 1930s. I’d be astounded that they were in any way prepared for what they were going to face.

        Further, because most priests are diocesan, an accused cleric brought before the bishop would very likely have been someone he knew well, someone with whom he had worked, and maybe even someone he had ordained. The shock and disappointment of the accusation would be significant, but would you really want to see a friend suffer public humiliation and perhaps be sent to prison, especially when he is demonstrating tremendous sorrow and contrition (something that would come easily to a psychopathic child abuser)?

        Next, there’s the natural proclivity of any Catholic priest, including a bishop, to meet penitence with forgiveness; after all, reconciliation is sacrament for Catholics.

        The bishop would also be thinking about reputational issues at the parish, diocesan and even church-wide levels. Fear of eroding the public’s trust would undoubtedly have been on the bishop’s mind. The potential for civil legal action might also have been considered.

        In light of all of this, it’s not surprising to me that many bishops made the incredibly bad decision to send the offending priests to new parishes, where they were once again able to engage in their nefarious behaviour, but likely now with even more discretion.

        Now, let me make it clear: I am not defending or justifying the actions of these bishops. What they did was unquestionably wrong. The number of child abuse cases that qualifies as “not that bad” is ZERO, and these bishops failed in their primary duty to protect their own congregations.

        But I do have a sufficient degree of empathy and compassion to recognize the incredibly stressful and unfamiliar circumstances in which these bishops were called upon to act. While I DO blame them, I’m nonetheless willing to acknowledge the extraordinary nature of the challenge they faced.

        • InDogITrust

          There’s not enough empathy in the world to make me feel sorry for the poor confused saddened bishops. And yes, I’d be perfectly happy to see a friend or family member who molested children suffer the public humiliation of being exposed as a child molester.
          Don’t get me started on the Church’s forgiving the priests. Where does the Church get off thinking it gets to forgive crimes committed against anyone else, much less against defenseless children?

          • InDogITrust

            “The bishop would also be thinking about reputational issues at the parish, diocesan and even church-wide levels. Fear of eroding the public’s trust would undoubtedly have been on the bishop’s mind. The potential for civil legal action might also have been considered.”
            EXACTLY. The whole problem is that the Church has cared about protecting itself, not children. When Roger Mahoney’s henchmen smuggled out of the country in the middle of the night in 1994, that was not the act of an overwhelmed poor confused man.

          • Shaun G. Lynch

            Empathy doesn’t mean to feel sorry for someone. It means that you try to share their feelings. I don’t feel sorry for these bishops any more than you do, but I think I can understand what they might have been feeling, and how that would have played into their decision-making.

          • InDogITrust

            Nope. No empathy for any one whose reaction to the rape of children is anything other than revulsion and disgust, and an overwhelming desire to put the monsters in jail.

          • InDogITrust
  • Romulus

    “Pedophilia” was never the problem.

  • Jack Archer

    Homosexual priests were the problem, not pedophilia. The overwhelming number of cases involved the targeting of sexually mature males.

    • DeaconJohnMBresnahan

      We know now from reputable studies (instead of from the media’s Big Lies) that the scandal in the Church was caused by homosexuals who infiltrated the priesthood. But now all the hyenas attacking the Church want to fill the Boy Scouts up with men in the category who caused the most harm–homosexuals.. The hypocrisy is deafening..

      • gigi4747

        I agree that the problem, for the most part, was not pedophilia. But we should be grateful to the media for their uncovering and reporting on this issue. In the absence of such, people like Bernard Law would have had many more years of shuffling sex offenders around the Boston Archdiocese.

  • captcrisis

    Since the average Catholic priest has hormones that dried up some time ago (their median age is now pushing 70) I’m not surprised to learn that sex abuse is now way down.

    • MillerJM

      First of all, it is 63. Second of all – it is an AVERAGE. There are thousands of priests that are 50 and younger in the U.S. Third, that was a horribly ageist remark you made about hormones drying up when you become older. There are volumes of clinical research that show that elderly individuals continue to have sexual desires and regularly sexual activity. It might be less frequent, but it doesn’t warrant your nasty remark. It also is dismissive of the discipline of celibacy and the spiritual efforts practiced by priests of all ages to maintain this discipline. It seems to me what has dried up is your sensitivity.

  • Tlynn

    It was not only the abuse, it was also the cover up for decades that was the issue as well. I doubt if any organization could have covered up crime for 30 years or more.

    • Brandy Miller

      Tlynn: Our U.S. government has been doing it successfully for more than 30 years.

    • RuariJM

      Boy Scouts Association of America managed it.

  • Peter Bingen

    I don’t think celibacy is the main reason people feel betrayed in their good faith by the church. Your pointing finger toward a rabbi, a nurse, a cop, etc doesn’t excuse the indefensible cover up that the church did for many decades and it looks like a smokescreen. They could have been covering up for non celibate personel of catholic institutions and their sin would have been as outrageous. It looks bad when your justification for forgiving the cover up is that other institutions and professionals who have the respect of the general public also can commit the same crimes. It is sad that these days you cannot trust people who have roles of community servers, but that doesn’t excuse the Church. The real Christian way of purging your faults is to commit to not repeating them and also ask for forgiveness and give reparation to your victims. Pointing out other groups’ moral defects only shows your lack of self awareness. Jesus asked us to see our own moral defects before pointing fingers to others. There are other polemicists that bring celibacy or homosexuality to the discussion for their own reasons, but we cannot confuse all things here. The cover ups were true and even if today things seem to be solved (praying for this), you cannot say that there were not inexcusable faults in the past. Or imply that because it happens everywhere at least the Church didn’t behave so bad. It is already too sad that the people busted in this operation seemed like people with a vocation of service and your main thought was to make an apologetic piece rather than lamenting this and calling out for more prayer and thoughtful discussion about how to avoid this disasters.

    • Barry Penobscott

      Ever hear of Bella Dodd? As a Communist, she personally helped infiltrate Catholic seminaries with men whose goal was to destroy the Church from within. It’s quite likely that many of these were a source of the scandal.

  • guest

    There’d be even fewer cases if half the clergy were women.
    And I’m pretty sure this whole post is a ‘tu quoque’ fallacy.
    Of course the church is going to have low rates of child abuse now that they’ve been forced to reform because the whole world is watching them. It doesn’t change the child abuse that happened in the past, or the massive scandal of the giant coverup that went right to the top.
    Celibacy is a side issue here.

    • RuariJM

      I take it you didn’t follow the Ryan Report and subsequent investigations.

      Did you ever hear of the Magdalen Laundries? Abuse is an equal-opportunity nastiness.

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