Clergy sex abuse scandals are not limited to Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals. The Southern Baptists have been grappling — and failing to deal with — their own clergy sex abuse. I can attest from my time in several denominations through the years that the problem is a real and present danger in all of them.
It would be simple to take the militant atheist view and claim that religion itself, or maybe just Christianity, is the cause of the problem. But that would not be accurate at all. Sex abuse of children, including incest, as well as all other crimes of sexual violence, is widespread in all areas of society.
So, if child sex abuse is rampant in all areas of society, then why are we so worked up about Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals doing it? After all, are they worse than anybody else?
Ironically, this has been the one consistent defense of themselves that Catholic priests have advanced. Every priest I’ve ever known can and will recite statistics showing that sex abuse coming from Catholic priests isn’t all that much more common than the larger society. They usually end with what they obviously think is the strong summary statement that most sexual abuse of children occurs in the home, not the church.
This is interesting, considering that the same men will quickly turn huffy when people treat them as if they were just like everyone else. They expect to be obeyed, adored and coddled by Catholics. They insist on being called “Father” and on receiving both respect and obedience from their parishioners. It’s only when they get in trouble that they suddenly start claiming that it doesn’t matter because they are no worse than anybody else.
What they are trying to excuse with this bogus nonsense is the systematic commission of a heinous crime against helpless people by a group of men who claim to speak for God and who call themselves Alter Christus. That alone makes it strikingly different than sex abuse committed by other people.
But the really important difference is that sex abuse committed by priests and bishops is not an individual crime. Sex abuse committed elsewhere may be an individual crime. Sometimes, when it is committed by someone like Jeffrey Epstein and his band of powerful fellow pedophiles, it verges on organized crime. But it does not approach the vast, quasi-governmental, worldwide, historic scope of the organized crime committed by the Catholic Church.
The Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse scandal is the largest and most enduring criminal enterprise that I know of. In terms of its geographic scope, historic length and psychological and political power, it dwarfs any other crime syndicate I have read about or considered.
Individual priests and bishops didn’t just rape and molest children, seminarians, nuns and parishioners. The whole Church, with all its political, monetary, social and spiritual armament, enabled them to get away with it and set things up so they could keep on doing it.
What makes clergy sex abuse a different species of crime altogether is that it was not, in any way, an individual crime. It was a system of enabling and covering-up that involved illegal police and prosecutorial protection of priestly criminals, lengthy legal wrangling conducted by diocesan lawyers, appeals to international law based on the Church’s standing as a city state, monetary settlements, non-disclosure statements, and systematic transferring of pedophile priests from one parish to another to allow them to molest, rape and abuse still more children over a period of decades.
This went on as far back in time as we have looked at the records to know. It extended around the globe, and went all the way up to the pope.
That is not crime. It is organized crime. It is international, generational, systematic, organized crime.
It was committed by the same people who tell us that they speak for God, who with a full-on demand for all the respect it requires, call themselves Alter Christus.
Statistical sophistry aside, this crime of the Church is not just a few bad apples in the midst of a holy institution. It is a corrupt institution with a few good apples, laboring to make real the spiritual things it claims about itself.
There is no excuse for what the Church has done and is doing in regards to sexual crimes.
Let me say that again.
There. Is. No. Excuse.
So, let me ask you this.
If the men who run our Church can do what they have done in regards to their own culture of sexual predation within their ranks, why should anyone be surprised that they treat women the way they do?
Why should it surprise us that the same men who have excused, enabled and supported generations of child rapists would also author and support an invidious sexual double standard that seeks to dump all the guilt and shame humans feel about sexuality onto women and excuse men for everything they do?
Why would we be surprised that the same church officials who pay money to cover for child rapists and then transfer the rapists into new parishes where they can rape some more would have no problems backing a known sexual predator and misogynist like Donald Trump for president?
Why would we be surprised that they defended Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court and stood by Roy Moore’s candidacy for the United States Senate?
What makes anyone think that the men who would do this care about the lives of unborn children?
They don’t care about the lives of women and girls who are standing right in front of them.
They don’t care about the lives of the children in their schools and institutions who they can see and know.
But we’re supposed to believe that they really, truly care about the lives of unborn babies that they cannot see or hear or know and which are entirely a theoretical construct to them?
I am not questioning the right to life of unborn children. Far from it.
I am questioning the disregard for the right to life and human dignity of women and girls by the same priests and bishops who want to us believe that they care about unborn children.
You can’t support and enable rapists for decades and then say that you are Christ’s representative on earth. It does not grok.
By the same token, you can’t disregard rape and violence against women and girls and claim that you are pro life. You can’t blather about the dignity of women and then support a misogynist sexual predator for the position of most powerful man on earth.
Rape and sexual assault are a direct attack on maternity. As such, rape and sexual assault are also a direct attack on Our Lady and on the sanctity of human life.
These are crimes against the humanity and the personhood of persons. They are a destructor of human dignity. They shatter people like crystal resulting in life-long damage.
There is no excuse for what the Church has done. None.