Catholic Church Sex Scandals

A quick history of the Catholic Church’s (mis)handling of child abuse:

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(From ABC’s Hungry Beast…. which is a really weird name, btw.)

  • Custador

    That is a really excellent video. I particularly like that it stops Darth Ratzinger from palming off his organisation’s guilt as being just a symptom of modern-day life and it’s lack of biblical morals – I’d say a couple of thousand years of “biblical morals” in the Catholic church debunks his argument there pretty comprehensively.

  • marfita

    Just happen to have the Didache on hand … and that injunction is a general one, not just leveled at priests. Child sexual abuse has a long history that is not limited to clergy. So that “fact” is out of context. The rest, though, is spot on.

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  • Neutral Views

    haahahaaaa thats actually pretty “god damn” hilarious

  • PsiCop

    This video has some factual flaws, and even in addition to that, it’s anachronistic. The “pedophilia” referred to in early documents like the Didache and at the synod of Elvira very likely alluded to a practice of long standing in the Hellenistic world (less so among Romans, and even less among Near Eastern peoples) of older men taking up with adolescent boys. (This is not to say that pederasty was not controversial even within the Greek world … while Socrates had indulged in it, his protege Plato considered it socially harmful. Christian communities that condemned it were not innovative in this regard.)

    Furthermore, these early Christian documents are hardly the only ones that complain about perceived unacceptable sexual practices among early Christians. Some of the Church Fathers, e.g. Tertullian, made numerous complaints along these lines. This shouldn’t be surprising, since celibacy was viewed as a spiritual ideal early in Christian history (see e.g. Mt 19:12). In pre-Christian times, it had been espoused by Hellenistic groups such as Pythagoreans … so here again we see another venue in which Christians are not innovators.

    The Book of Gomorrah also cannot be taken seriously. It was pro-Cluniac propaganda meant to make the Church as an institution look bad … VERY bad … and in need of drastic changes. The extent to which its representation of what was actually going on, is questionable at best. This is not to say there were no corrupt or misbehaving clergy in the 11th century; I’m just saying we cannot take this particular book at face value.

    The context of Christian history is that it has always had a very conflicted approach to sexuality … ALL sexuality, not just homosexuality and/or pedophilia. Is it good? Or bad? Or sometimes good, sometimes bad? This nebulous, ill-defined, often prudish approach to sexuality has been used by propagandists to support their views, at various times, and for their own reasons, often having nothing to do with sexuality itself. For example, Liutprand of Carmona … a monk who’d been involved in papal politics and diplomacy … left a scandalous account of the period now known (thanks largely to him) as “the Pornocracy.” While this was not the papacy’s shining moment, and definitely not a flattering period in its history, odds are things were not quite as terrible as he made them seem. And he had both personal and professional reasons for making the popes of this period look bad.

    Put another way … using claims of inappropriate sexual activities for sensational purposes, as a weapon against some rival or foe, is not unique to modern times. It’s a very old tactic. To say that this scandalous material somehow “proves” all this activity actually happened — exactly as stated — is just foolish. Even now it’s a good idea to reserve judgement on modern journalistic reports of such things; reservations must be stronger with regard to older accounts.

    At any rate, a lot of the material mentioned in this video must be carefully viewed, in its context and not anachronistically. Basic factual errors such as saying the Didache was written in 60 CE (parts of it might be that old, but the document we have shows signs of edition, and it’s very likely a mid 2nd to early 3rd century version) — as well as misrepresenting the scope of the synod of Elvira, and the veracity of the Book of Gomorrah — are not helpful at all.

    • Daniel Florien

      Excellent points PsiCop.

  • John

    This is just another example of the evilness of the catholic church, the world needs to wake up and force this branch of brain washing to be banished and made illegal.

  • Lorena

    Good to know that it is an old problem, along with all the others church abuse reports that we’ve heard of before.

    Personally, I’ve always known of misdeeds by priests, anywhere from having lovers to extorting money from their sheep. The widespread child sexual abuse was anything but public knowledge.

  • nazani14

    When do we get the ‘bookend’ account of what the followers of Martin Luther and all the subsequent sects have done to children? When is the media going to do an expose of what goes on in Bible study camps? I’ve been noticing reports of abuse by Baptist ministers for some time, and it seems as though the Baptist leaders are just as actively covering up scandals as the Catholic hierarchy, and just as likely to allow a known molester to preach in another state. I suspect that in the end, we will find that the secular institutions like boarding schools, orphanages, etc., have been just as guilty when it comes to taking advantage of the helpless.

    I sometimes come off as a bit pro-Catholic, it’s because my Mom’s family were German Catholics, and they were Very Good people- pro-social justice and charitable, not in the least evil or brain-washed. They had too many kids, but otherwise the church was not the entire focus of their lives, and they didn’t go around attributing every event to God’s intervention. If there’s going to be a church, I vote for the one that owns the art.

  • Guy

    Nazani, your comment “we will find that the secular institutions like boarding schools, orphanages, etc., have been just as guilty when it comes to taking advantage of the helpless”, is I’m sure true.
    Sexual abuse of children goes on in all institutions. The difference is how they react when found out. Certainly here in the UK there have been various scandals around chidren’s homes and other institutions that should care for children. Many haven’t exactly been speedy in sorting the problem out but most have eventually got there.
    Abuse of children by the catholic church has been well documented in literature for centuries yet ignored. It’s not just the abuse it’s the cover up that really sickens me!
    (before getting flamed, I’m in no way defending abuse, but I suspect it happens fairly equally where adults have power over children. It’s how an organisation deals with that abuse when it is discovered that is particularly offensive here).

  • Janet Greene

    Excellent! I’ll be passing this link along.

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  • Jenny Hunter

    Here is the truth about it all: