Do Catholic Sexual Scandals Disprove Catholic Truth Claims?

Do Catholic Sexual Scandals Disprove Catholic Truth Claims? December 21, 2017


King David was quite a sinner himself, yet God made an eternal covenant with him, knowing he would commit adultery and murder.


[Reformed Protestant Anti-Catholic polemicist John Bugay’s words will be in blue]


Why did I know this would happen? I was watching coverage of the Joe Paterno / Penn State tragedy last night, on a sports show, and I just knew that this would cause many folks (especially anti-Catholics like John Bugay) to go right back to blasting the Catholic Church anew, and pretending that sexual abuse is not a society-wide problem that is rampant in many Protestant and other circles as well (as I have documented twice: one / two). Now we have the venerable “apple pie” institution of college football implicated: the coach with the most wins and bowl wins ever.

Folks all over the Internet are trying to tie this to Catholicism, in part because Paterno is Catholic.  But Jerry Sandusky, the perpetrator, is a “devout” (United) Methodist. The university President, Graham Spanier, who was also fired (since there appears to have been a serious cover-up involved), is Jewish, according to his Wikipedia page. Case in point of my contention that sexual abuse is a huge societal problem, far greater in scope than just the Catholic Church . . .

Wikipedia (“Jerry Sandusky”) also states that “Sandusky married Dorothy “Dottie” (née Gross) in 1966, and together they have six adopted children. Sandusky and his wife have also served as foster parents.” That disposes of the other myth that this is all about celibate priests or otherwise celibate men. Married men abuse children, too. The more myths abound about the problem, the less we will be able to do something about it.

For my part, I have covered the sad sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church quite a bit, having compiled many informed articles dealing with it on my Inquisition, Crusades, & “Catholic Scandals” web page. The devil would love nothing more than for people to believe that this is only a “Catholic problem” so that people can ignore any other instance of it happening, thus allowing many more thousands of cases of abuse to proceed, under cover of an anti-Catholic or at least tunnel vision “see no evil anywhere else” mentality.

[this article was written in 2011. Now, after the Hollywood and Washington sex scandals, virtually no one would contend that it is mainly a “Catholic problem” anymore]

I have nothing to do with this scandal. I have condemned it in no uncertain terms from the beginning. But lo and behold, here comes John Bugay, telling me and other apologists that we ought to quit what we are doing.

Basically, of course, this boils down to saying that we ought to renounce Catholic teaching and become good ol’ Protestants (preferably Calvinists), just as he has done, having left the Church of his youth. Sorry, John. It doesn’t work that way. Sin and truth are two different categories (in case you didn’t know that).

Sin will always be with us. This is why we have Christianity in the first place: to save men from sin (duh!!!). It’s called . . . original sin . . . concupiscence, etc. John’s brand of Christianity takes it even further than we do, holding that men have a “sin nature.” Yet he is surprised that sin — even very serious, especially evil sin, with cover-ups — occurs. But there is one truth, and that doesn’t change because some people in the ranks of where the Christian truth resides most fully, have sinned.

It’s a huge tragedy, disgraceful, abominable, unspeakably evil, but it doesn’t cause doctrinal truth to change. If Isaac Newton — heaven forbid — had been found having sex with a little boy, it wouldn’t alter the fact that gravity is a scientific truth. We wouldn’t reject his established, demonstrable teaching because he was personally a scoundrel.

St. Paul didn’t hesitate in calling the Corinthian assembly “the church of God” (1 Cor 1:2; 2 Cor 1:1; RSV) even though terrible sexual sin had occurred within its ranks:

1 Corinthians 5:1 It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife.

Somehow, our Lord Jesus still called the assembly of Christians in Thyatira “the church” (Rev 2:18), despite the presence therein of wicked sexual immorality:

Revelation 2:20-25 But I have this against you, that you tolerate the woman Jez’ebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and beguiling my servants to practice immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols. [21] I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her immorality. [22] Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings; [23] and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches shall know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you as your works deserve. [24] But to the rest of you in Thyati’ra, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay upon you any other burden; [25] only hold fast what you have, until I come.

Again, for some reason God didn’t cease his eternal covenant with David (Ps 89:3-4, 26-37; 132:11-18; 2 Sam 7:12-17), even though he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and had her husband killed (no small sin). God, knowing everything and being outside of time, knew this would happen, but it didn’t stop Him from making the covenant with David. He decided to choose Moses to be His lawgiver, despite his having murdered a man; selected betrayer Peter to lead His Church, and murderer of Christians Paul to be His chief initial missionary to the Gentiles (and all four men wrote plenty of inspired Scripture). Lots of very serious sin there, all around (how many of you have pastors or priests who murdered someone?). It’s tough to get around, where human beings are concerned.

Anyway, after having made these rather obvious observations, let us now see what Bugay wrote on the anti-Catholic Triablogue site where he is a regular contributor (on 11-10-11), about myself and several other apologists needing to give up our outreach and apologetics efforts altogether:

Called to Communion? Or called to be abused, only to have the “infallible” church cover it up?

. . . Those of you who defend Rome, let me ask you. What more could Rome have done? In the name of Christ, what should you be doing in the face of such a cover-up? Scott Hahn and Bryan Cross and Devin Rose and Taylor Marshall and Mark Shea and Dave Armstrong and “Catholic Answers” and all of you who are defending the Roman Catholic Church and trying to win converts to it ought to stop now what you’re doing and demand, that Rome itself repent for the sins it has committed, and to make restitution – real restitution – for the evil that its own laws and policies have perpetuated for centuries. And while you’re at it, you ought to examine your own lives and beliefs and motives. Because no artificial distinction between “dogma” and “discipline”, or “doctrine” and “canon law” can account for the pure and simple evil that Rome both perpetuates and hides over with folded hands and a smiling face. 

So, folks, it’s been good, but now it’s time to pack it in and call it a day: to ditch Catholicism and go be a Calvinist like John Bugay, where no sins ever occur and never will: the assembly of perfect saints and angels, because a very tiny proportion of Catholics were guilty of terrible sexual sin. Bugay utterly ignores Protestant sex abuse cases. In fact, when one such victim was brought up in the combox, John stated, “I wouldn’t trust her as far as I could spit her.”

This is how someone who says they were a victim of sexual abuse in Protestant circles is treated in anti-Catholic circles. It’s ignored; it’s not taken seriously. In other words, it would be the same exact sort of specific sin that John blasts the Catholic Church for: covering-up incidents: politics and PR over even rudimentary truth and justice in individual cases. John proves that he acts the same way right in the thread under his post. How ironic. But as soon as he watches the Paterno scandal Bugay uses it as a pretext to go right back to bashing the Catholic Church. It always has to go back to that.

Now, imagine abused victims of Catholic priests being treated in the same fashion: as soon as they make their charge they are dismissed out of hand as liars. We know that Bugay wouldn’t countenance that for a second, but let a person who says they have been victimized in Protestant anti-Catholic circles speak out and she is immediately taken to be a liar and publicly trashed.


Bugay replied to the above:

As usual, Dave, you miss the point, and the gang cheers you on in your misunderstanding. The point is not that men are not sinners, or that anyone should be “pretending that sexual abuse is not a society-wide problem that is rampant in many Protestant and other circles as well”.

The problem is the decades-long or centuries-long systemic cover-up of that abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, and even the celebration of such cover-up, demonstrated by the video I posted about the Birthday celebration for Cardinal Law. David repented; Rome does not repent. There is no other organization on earth that has engaged in such a systemic cover-up. I applauded Penn State for immediately firing even an iconic coach as Paterno for covering up sexual abuse. Rome promotes and celebrates its cover-uppers. 

Why don’t you argue with that previous paragraph?

I never say that “abuse is exclusive to Catholicism”. What I say is, “the level of cover-up [and celebration of it!] is exclusive to Roman Catholicism.”

[others in the original Blogspot combox thread interacted with John and provided additional helpful comments and information]


(originally 11-10-11)

Photo credit: Study of King David (actor Sir Henry Taylor): 1866, by Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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