Abusing the Allegations of Abuse

Let’s get the record straight. The abuse of innocents by Catholic clergy is not as bad as the Catholic haters report.

Here’s an example:

Brendan O’Neill writes here about the MacAleese Report on the Magdalene Laundries–Irish homes for unwed mothers run by sisters in the 50s and 60s. The laundries–where unwed mothers (who were often kicked out of their families) were given a home and expected to work–have been portrayed in a book, play and movie called The Magdalen Sisters as Catholic concentration camps where the girls were raped, beaten, heads shaved and stripped by the sadistic nuns. The official MacAleese report interviewed the women who were unwed mothers at the time, and it turns out most of them had fond memories of the kindness of the nuns. The “abuse” consisted of some girls being rapped on the knuckles with a ruler. The very few instances of serious abuse were far outnumbered by positive comment about the girls’ experience.

O’Neill points out the wider problem in the lies that have been promoted about the Catholic Church’s institutions–for example a British newspaper reported that in the USA 10,000 people said they were raped by priests. In fact there were 10,000 complaints of “abuse” which included “verbal abuse”. The number of reported rapes was not 10,000 but 68.

No one is defending even 68 rapes, if they indeed happened, but there must be truth in reporting and the producers of wildly inaccurate works of fiction like the Magdalene Sisters should be ashamed of themselves–mere sensationalist lying peddlers of lies to make a quick buck by hitting an easy target: the Catholic Church. Defenders of the lying book, play and movie say with a straight face that the abuse may have been exaggerated, but it was okay because it helped to raise awareness of the “culture of abuse” in the Catholic Church. Hogwash.

If you want to read the report the pdf file is available here. Seeing the groups who funded the report it is difficult to imagine that it is totally objective and free of any bias. I smell two rats: first the abuse and cover up by church and state, second a biased, anti-Catholic hunt for someone to blame and sue by the victims.

There is a greater problem, when journalists lie and exaggerate and blame a whole group for the sins of a few we get into  a kind of argumentation which is the dangerous stuff of pure propaganda and persecution. David Limbaugh has outlined the five stages of persecution:

1. stigmatizing the targeted group,
2. marginalizing its role in society,
3. vilifying it for alleged crimes or misconduct,
4. criminalizing it,
5. and finally, persecuting it outright.

He forgot one stage. After vilifying it for alleged crimes or misconduct comes the stage of exaggerating those alleged crimes and assigning the crimes of a few to a whole group in order to create in the minds of the population the idea that the marginalized group are all inhuman monsters. This is precisely what we are seeing in films like The Magdalene Sisters, continued reports that Pius XII and Benedict XVI were  Nazi sympathizers and the idea that all Catholic priests are sick and wicked pedophiles. It’s working pretty well too, read the comments of most any mainstream newspaper report on anything Catholic and you will find a vile stream of violent hatred toward the Pope and all Catholic priests. This is extended to any faithful Catholic who attempts to defend the church.

It is vital that Catholics continue to acknowledge the reality of abuse and the cover ups which took place. It is vital that we continue to be vigilant with our child protection procedures, and it is right that we are suitably ashamed and disgusted at those in power who covered up abuse and sheltered criminals, but it is also vital that we deal with facts–not exaggerated hate language.

What I find most ironic is that it is illegal in the UK to publish anything that is likely to incite racial or religious hatred…except if it is hatred towards the Catholic Church.


About Fr. Dwight Longenecker
  • FW Ken

    Inserting the sex scandals into any discussion not actually about the sex scandals should be declared a corollary to Godwin’s Law. It’s a loser’s argument. As you note, the actual by facts do not support that the Catholic Church has a special problem with abuse.

    That said, we have had a widespread with bishops hiding the problems we do have. Shepherds acting like CEOs is a huge scandal.

    • ianc

      Of course Ken child abuse is irrelavant in most discussions and should be avoided if you don’t want to be labeled a loser. A corollary to Godwin’s Law, what utter nonsense. Mr Hitler would be most displeased.

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  • Mary

    When these terrible allegations came into the spotlight I was terribly hurt, confused, upset. I remember there was a great meeting of bishops taking place in my general area (Texas) and I specifically remember praying for these bishops. I prayed, read scripture and meditated at that time. I got several basic answers on this subject and great consolation about the entire matter.

    God uses symbolisim, often, when referring to sarcodotal people and things. For example, the scapegoat or even closer the lamb of God.

    When He refers to priests in scripture it is often as a form of cattle or oxen. “…bind not the mouth of the ox that treads the grain…” for example. Another place, to paraphrase, says “…without oxen a stable remains clean, but it is the oxen that brings forth the harvest.” I knew then, that God is simply mucking out the barn. I know, sounds stupid but that was the “word” I received and with those words my heart was healed. We need to continue to muck out the stable, but recognize it for what it is, a time of purification and hopefully healing.

  • Mary

    And prevention of future problems by removing the ones causing the muck… accidentally got published before I finished…. God is causing the priesthood to be purified, cleaning it up. This is something to be thankful about.

  • http://platytera.blogspot.com/ Christian

    If you can’t hate Catholics who can you hate?

  • Mary

    Only good way to handle Ctholic bashers is do as St. Paul advised. Tell them what the truth is and then go about your own business. You should never argue with a fool for you can not win.

    Oh, Christian, I assume your question was a retorical statement really…. the answer, as any Chistian can tell you, is no one. ;-)

  • Mary

    Pardon the typos please…I really dislike this tablet for writting even short messages. Fine for reading but stinks for writing….things keyboard misstrikes, leaves out letters that were “clcked” has no delete button or navigation button and adds extra letters that were not even touched. Grrrrrr it often puts in a o when p is clicked!!!! Again, pardon the typos, embarrassing….

  • Siobhan H

    Just one correction – Magdalen Laundries were not primarily for unwed mothers. That is itself one of the myths. They also started long before the 1950s and indeed were not initially a Catholic invention. Check out this article http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/david-quinn-magdalene-inquiry-must-lift-veil-and-uncloak-anticatholic-myths-26743278.html

  • http://elizabethk-fthnfort.blogspot.com/ Elizabeth K.

    Thank you so much for this post–I hadn’t heard about this report, and have been troubled by the “facts’ about this that I’ve read that have gone unchallenged. You’re right about the vitriol one finds in comboxes; I find it of deep concern. It seems impervious to logic and reason and is, therefore, frightening.

  • Michael

    Depending upon the source only about 5% of priests were involved in sexual abuse of minors, maybe more but also maybe less. But these clergy occurred in almost every diocese and it seems the majority of the bishops of those diocese sought to conceal these abusing clergy.

    Now apologists say it wasn’t the law then to report them to authorities (civil or canon) but if it’s the moral thing to do now and prevent clergy where their has been a sexual abuse allegation from continued contact with minors and if it’s the moral thing to do now and report it to civil authorities, then why wasn’t it the moral thing to do 10 or 20 years ago. Does morality change? Is there a temporal moral relativism in Catholic morality?

    • http://catholicwvengeance.wordpress.com/ Rachel Gohlman

      It was because these people were not following Catholic morality that they didn’t do the right thing. What the Church teaches ought to be distinguished from what people in the Church do. The morality hasn’t changed but the unscrupulous actions of people is responsible for it.

      • Michael

        I agree, all institutions often fall short of their ideals. With the priests that applies, but when it appears to be the bishops, the teachers of the Church, complicit in a coverup of a crime, believers or notm that all moral people find reprehensible, then it causes one pause to ask would they have continued in covering up had not civil authorities and society held them to a higher morality.

        • Fr. Dwight Longenecker

          Please research not only the repeated apologies of Catholic bishops for mistakes and cover ups, but also the intensive and unique child protection program put in place by the Catholic Church in the United States and UK.

          • Michael

            Now, but not 10 or 20 years ago. And it was civil, not ecclesiastical authorities that forced those changes. Eccleastical authorities could have changed the policy decades ago, but didn’t “for the good of the Church”.

            What Cardinal Mahoney realizes the good is that he is forgiving those who are angry with him for covering up.

            “In the past several days, I have experienced many examples of being humiliated. In recent days, I have been confronted in various places by very unhappy people. I could understand the depth of their anger and outrage — at me, at the Church, at about injustices that swirl around us.
            Thanks to God’s special grace, I simply stood there, asking God to bless and forgive them.” ( http://cardinalrogermahonyblogsla.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/called-to-humiliation.html )

            He still doesn’t get it.

  • FW Ken

    Michael, yes, that’s the real scandal in the Church (as I note), but even then, the missing piece is that when priests were reported, law enforcement did little or nothing. Like the priest who tied up 4 little boys and molested them, ending up with a misdemeanor conviction. The diocese did remove him from ministry, upon the original report. Or the case where a priest raped a boy at gunpoint; the police informed the archdiocese that it was a case of custodial interference.

    People who care about children are interested in more than just scapegoating one institution.

    • Michael

      It is not just one institution. It’s many organizations where adults have access to children. One organization that’s had it’s share of allegations and convictions is Boy Scouts of America. I’m involved with Scouts Canada (each country’s Scouts are totally separate ) and our training said that is you encounter abuse, you make two calls. The second is to Scouts Canada, the first is to the police. Nothing complicated about that.

  • Lynda

    See Goodbye Good Men by Michael S. Rose on the secularist homosexualist infiltration of the Catholic Church via the seminaries. There are not only the child victims of sex attacks and abuse by those who were in a position of near-absolute trust, but the near-destruction of the Church in many places, and the attendant phenomenon of false accusations and even false convictions against innocent priests, e.g., Fr Gordon MacRae, New Hampshire diocese still in prison after 18 years on foot of a clearly and egregiously unfair trial. As a qualified lawyer, as a person who believes in justice, I am almost incredulous that this man is still in prison where there has been a clear miscarriage of justice. The corruption which is so widespread in the Church is exemplified not only in the refusal to act on repeated sex attacks on children by some priests but by the betrayal of the falsely accused priests. See David F. Pierre’s book on Priests Falsely Accused. The Devil must be very pleased with his work of destroying the Church.