April 2, 2010

"The child molester was also a brilliant, generous, talented man — the only person who ever read me a bedtime story."

"I will love him forever, for that, even when I wake up gasping and afraid."

A startling passage — in an essay by Elizabeth Scalia — AKA The Anchoress — that tries to explain — on this Good Friday — how she can be a Catholic after so many revelations about priests who sexually abuse children and the kindly protection they have received within the power structure of the Church.


It occurs to me that these priests — and Scalia's family pedophile — are the opposite of Boo Radley. Boo Radley — a character in "To Kill a Mockingbird" — was the reclusive neighbor who, failing to make a conventional show of friendliness, scared the children. But when the children are endangered, he saves them.


A Tom Toles cartoon:


Anonymous said...

Didn't someone once say 'beware of ravenous wolves in sheep's clothing'?

I guess sheep's clothing includes bedtime stories.

jag said...

What a hateful cartoon to post on your site on Good Friday. It mocks the good works done by countless innocent priests. As an attorney, a law professor, a bright mind, you of all people should know that the abuse scandals do not tell the entire story of faith, of priesthood, of grace. Badly done. Needlessly insulting.

TosaGuy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
garage mahal said...

Since when is child rape "abuse? It's rape, call it what it is.

TosaGuy said...

Of course this issue isn't being utilized by some as an opportunity to exhibit their anti-Catholic bigotry. That would be wrong!

But since its okay to convict an entire group on the actions of a few, let us start going after the new child molesting menace -- school teachers

bagoh20 said...

It's very hard to be successful child molester if you can't make child feel safe and happy when necessary.

While I respect The Anchoress's faith, it has had an unfortunate propensity to produce martyrs.

Ann Althouse said...

"Needlessly insulting."

Do you have any comprehension of how much worse the insults could and should be? That cartoon is fucking lighthearted.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the analogy holds up: "Boo" was fictional, as was the scenario.

TosaGuy said...

Google "teacher molests students" and see how many hits you get.

Shall we impugn all teachers as a result?

bagoh20 said...

But Tosaguy, this was not an innocent priest. Of course they exist, but this was a molester.

jag said...

There are countless, law abiding priests who have given their lives for the cause of justice, for the poor; priests who take in the homeless, the hungry; priests who are friend to the unwanted, the unloved.

Yes, needlessly insulting. Lighthearted? Forgive me if I forget to laugh.

traditionalguy said...

That was a touching post, Professor. Like gold, good men are where ever you find one, but fool's gold is glittering everwhere. The strong should protect the weak and not eat up the weak in God's name. Jesus was a patient and loving man, but he did lose his cool with the religious phonies, but on Good Friday they got their revenge on Him, but only until resurrection morning.

A.W. said...

mmm, you know i am not catholic, but i can't help but be a little sick of this bashing. I'm not excusing things, just asking for a little perspective.

The fact is that catholic priests are no more likely to be pervs than religious figures in any other religion. the scandal isn't the number of priests who molest, but how the allegations were handled when first come to light.

And bear in mind that the culpability of anyone, but the perv, is attenuated. Basically the theory is that parents can let their children spend hours with pretty much strangers and they are not culpable for any molestation but their supervisors are. Finally, if you look into why they didn’t come down harder on them, its because they believed in repentance and forgiveness. A mistake, clearly, but I find it a little creepy that principles driven by faith give rise to culpability.

I’m not saying its okay that these kids were molested, or that their supervisors didn’t make mistakes, just, jeez guys let’s have a little perspective. Seriously, do you want to be held to those standards—that even if you try your best and have the best intentions, if you aren’t perfect, judged in 20/20 hindsight often decades after the fact, then bam, your church will be sued for millions.

To be very blunt this is a panic driven by greedy trial lawyers, and a media that seems to relish in bashing Catholicism. Now obviously I have my disagreements with Catholicism, given that I am not catholic but a protestant. But there is disagreement and there is bashing, and this kind of crap is bashing.

bagoh20 said...

One of the biggest problems I have with Christianity is "turn the other cheek". It may be all the defiance you have when you are helpless, but when you are not, I find it immoral. It may not be only your cheek that you are offering.

I'm Full of Soup said...

Scalia alowed herself to be used by a vile NPR editor who chose to run this story on Good Friday.

hombre said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TosaGuy said...


My comments are directed at the cartoon and how it perpetuates the myth that all priests are pedophiles.

I also think the pedophile priest issue provides an irresistible tool for anti-Catholic bigots and that they use this tragedy as a convenient excuse to practice their bigotry without consequence.

ricpic said...

I have great respect for the Anchoress. A column she wrote analyzing the disaster visited upon us for the last 50 years as essentially the work of "first borns" is one of the most insightful I've ever read. That said, the confusion of the private and public realms - as demonstrated by the mercy she would show a child rapist! because he showed kindness to her when she was a child - is the signal weakness of women.

Beth said...

Finally, if you look into why they didn’t come down harder on them, its because they believed in repentance and forgiveness.

That sounds nice, but it's not the whole truth. They believed in priestly authority, that the priests are accountable to God, not secular law. Repentance and forgiveness are just nice words for keeping sexual assault an internal matter.

It's true that sexual assaults of children occur in all sorts of institutions. The outrage over the Catholic Church's molestation scandals is rooted in the organization's repeated attempts to protect the abusers, to blame the press for reporting on it, to blame the accusers for making them look bad, to ask parishioners to accept closings of their churches and cutback in the social services their collections should have paid for in order to pay off huge settlements - settlements made all the more onerous because of the coverups, not just the assaults themselves.

I have no problem recognizing and lauding the many, many clergy and lay people whose faith is real and guides their lives. But they need to put the blame for this painful subject where it belongs - not on the people who want to expose it and hold the hierarchy accountable for decades of wrong-headed tactics in dealing with sexual and physical assaults on children.

Shanna said...

Wow. That said, I can kind of understand in a situation where, say, a parent is the molester, that feelings towards that person are complicated.

Beth said...

It may be all the defiance you have when you are helpless, but when you are not, I find it immoral. It may not be only your cheek that you are offering.

That's a good description of why pacifism is useless.

garage mahal said...

What do misbehaving priests have to do with other people being Catholics?

Unbelievable. It has nothing to do with other people being Catholics, after all, Catholics were the victims. Misbehaving? Wow. What.in.the.fuck.

hombre said...

bagoh20 wrote: One of the biggest problems I have with Christianity is "turn the other cheek". (12:51)

"Turn the other cheek" probably doesn't mean what you think it means. For example,....

Unknown said...

All I know is that The Anchoress sure does hate the gays. . .

Jenny said...

All I know is that downtownlad has apparently never read The Anchoress...

Unknown said...

As for the abuse, I don't understand why it is the job of the Catholic Church to solve this. If there are law breakers, then the host countries should just arrest these priests and imprison them. Why the hell do they get a pass just because they are a priest?

If the Pope flies to another country, then he should be arrested - assuming there is evidence of criminal activity in that country (and I will admit that I am not sure that the evidence is there yet).

Chennaul said...


Wow you are sooo unfair I remember the religious gals at that blog that shall not be named-having the upmost patience with you.

Years of the anchoress blogging and commenting and-I never saw anything to support your claim.

You gotta link for that-DTL?

Otherwise back up-and quit making yet another blog post at yet another blog-ALL about you.

Unknown said...

i've been really shocked at the way the Pope has lashed out at the media. The self-pity, claiming that he's unfairly under attack .... All that did was draw more attention to the story in the NYT and make the Pope defensive and petty.

it will be *very* interesting to see how this gets handled. the rapists *must* be held to account. i cant even imagine the sort of self-dialog/conscience/bubble/culture that allows the coexistence of a child-rapist and a 'man of God.'

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
hombre said...

garage wrote: Unbelievable. It has nothing to do with other people being Catholics, after all, Catholics were the victims. Misbehaving? Wow. What.in.the.fuck.

Really? So? Was the offending done on behalf of the church and in the name of Catholicism?

Yeah, "misbehaving." You know, "behaving badly." There is no built in quantifying modifier.

As ignorant, liberal cliché, you really are a gift that keeps on giving.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I hacked into the WaPo and posted an insanely offensive cartoon, but everyone started agreeing with me before I could declare "April Fools"!

Not that that excuses the Anchoress' outrageous piece of special pleading, mind you.

paul a'barge said...

Boo Radley was *[b]NOT[/b]* a child molester.

Anonymous said...

"Google "teacher molests students" and see how many hits you get. Shall we impugn all teachers?"

Well, let's examine that question:

Suppose there was an organization ... let's call it the National Child Raping Association.

It's would be a very attractive association for pedophiles to join, since this association would be specifically formed around children. Thousands of this organizations members would rape, daily, defenseless children all across America.

Would we as a society allow such an organization to exist?

What if we called it the National Education Association ... instead of the National Child Rape Association?

What if someone was keeping a list of all the members of the NEA who are daily raping children of all ages in and out of classrooms all across the country.

What if you could read the list of the ones who have been caught red-handed doing the raping.

Would you impugn the motives of the National Child Rape Association ... er, I mean the National Education Association?

Ann, are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the NEA?

Anonymous said...

For all the concern over child molestation, it's become almost mandatory for adult women to be as hairless as pre-pubescent girls. Contradiction, anyone?


Michael Haz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lem the artificially intelligent said...

Blogger sucks lately.

I'm having problems myself.. getting an obscure error message.

The Crack Emcee said...

Regarding TT's cartoon slogan:

Shit, I thought I got there first.

Cedarford said...

Is it me or do others see the people that lump-sum condemn ALL Catholic priests as child molesters and ALL tea party protesters as ignorant racist bigots tend to be the liberals? Liberals that would have complete paroxisms of self-righteous rage if the Toles cartoon had been about all Muslim mullahs being murderous terrorists? Or jokes about ALL blacks depicted as cheering Jerimiah Wright?

I think we all get that there is an enormous reservior of racism and bigotry in the liberal ranks for races they detest as "oppressors" and people that have ideologies they dislike.
And liberals are quicker than a KKK member with a blanket smear.

What I am beginning to see is more and more middle class folks and conservatives - who have put up with this Leftist rage and bigotry and directly harmed by laws and customs and PC designed to appease this Angry Left - becoming far more eager to match their slimey tactics.
It is not that easy to shrug off anymore, because the demonization of Leftist targets has been fairly successful and has caused significant harm to various citizens directly or in how they see society overall transformed. It just isn't easy to shrug off anymore..when the Left is in power in so many places and out to change your life and where your money goes. And will smear, verbally attack, even physically attack or sue people speaking out or otherwise opposing them.

Now you have people like Dick Armey saying every conservative needs to study Alinsky and consider using those tactics to fight for what is theirs by right and what sould be their childrens heritage.

Example: Pedophile Priests! Pedophile priests! All Catholic priests are child molesters. Ban Christianity!!

"No just a pack of liberal homosexuals that became priests to access smooth-skinned adolescent boys, mostly eager young homos themselves".
"Best way to stop it is to encourage hiring boards to assess the liberalism and homosexuality of each applicant who wants to teach, be a priest or rabbi, a boy scout leader"

RACIST! BIGOT! All gays are not child molesters! All liberals are not gay, and even if they were, nothing wrong with that!

"Precisely, so stop blanket-smearing all priests as child molestors and maybe we will shut up about hiring boards ought to screen for liberalism or homosexuality".

1. Most priests are not taking sexual advantage of young people.
2. Those that are were a minority and most of the "action" was not with children, but homosexuals going after willing young adolescent homosexuals.
3. Pederasty, not pedophilia. Pedophilia was added by Christian-haters in the media because while inaccurate, it was seen as more damaging.
4. Not even a majority of homosexual priests are pederasts.
5. Pederasty is not a Christian thing. Many Jews and Muslims are pederasts. Many in a place like the Jewish Hollywood community cover for their notorious pederasts just like the Church did.
6. Many gay heroes that liberals now say should be loved and accepted by us as diversity heroes, were pederasts. Like Harvey Milk and Oscar Wilde.

Michael Haz said...

Couldn't this have waited until Monday?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Something like one half of one percent of all priests are engaged in this behavior. Although New Ham sort of stole my point, I'll quote an old co-worker of mine (not Catholic), "Your kid has a Hell of a lot more chance of being abused by a union teacher than by a Catholic priest".

garage mahal said...

What do misbehaving priests have to do with other people being Catholics?

Unbelievable. It has nothing to do with other people being Catholics, after all, Catholics were the victims.

Thank you for that.

downtownlad said...

Here's some hatred for you. . .


The standard Alinsky if-they-don't-agree-with-us smear. You really are a fool. Not a big Anchoress follower, but I read her from time to time. The only hater among the two of you ain't her.

As for the abuse, I don't understand why it is the job of the Catholic Church to solve this.

Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's...

The law handles the lawbreakers, but, if the institution is damaged, that has to be fixed as well. Unless, of course, you think The Zero should nationalize - or ban - the Catholic Church.

George Grady said...

After reading the Anchoress's essay, she makes it pretty clear why she remains a Christian, but I don't see that what she wrote explains why she remains a Catholic. The struggle "within the mystery of the shadowlands" is a part of the history of Christianity as a whole, not merely the Catholic part of it. Why not be Orthodox? Or Methodist? Or Lutheran?

Perhaps it is the political structure that the Catholic church has that causes this sort of problem. Whether it's the cover-up of the abuse of children by Catholic priests, or the abuses that led to the Reformation, or the Great Schism between Catholics and Orthodox, they seem to have roots in the Catholic tendency to go against their professed beliefs and place the power and prestige of the Catholic church before what's true and right. I think it's possible that the structure of Catholic church tends to encourage this.

Anonymous said...

DOVER, Del. – Prosecutors expect to add more counts to a lengthy indictment against a Delaware pediatrician charged with serial molestation of 103 children as investigators urge former patients and parents to come forward.
A grand jury returned a 160-page indictment Monday against Dr. Earl Bradley of Lewes with 471 counts of sexual crimes....
A Durham NC man busted caught earlier this year in an elaborate Internet porn sting operation pled guilty today and will spend at least 15 years in prison.
Frank Lombard, 43, pled guilty in U.S. District Court in Washington D.C.
to Sexual Exploitation of a Minor.
Under the terms of his plea agreement, Lombard, a former Duke University
researcher, admitted to streaming a live pornographic image of himself
and his adopted, five-year-old son to another Internet user.
The boy was one of two adopted sons living with Lombard and his male
Arrest documents revealed that Lombard offered the boy up for sex with a
person he met online. That person was an undercover police officer.
Lombard's arrest was the result of an investigation involving the State
Bureau of Investigation, Federal Bureau of Investigation, local police
and a federal Internet crimes task force.
Lombard had worked at Duke since 1999 and was associate director of the
university's Center for Health Policy.

The above are just from the news this past week.
I can fill volumes with the perfidious conduct of atheist doctors and faculty members but you're all a twitter about some priests in the '80's.

Eric said...

Having been raised a Catholic, I find the cartoon a bit unfair to all the genuinely good people I came in contact with as a child.

But even more annoying is the way it's labeled. "Decades of abusive priests"? The children are being stalked by decades? The nuns would never have approved of that usage.

Unknown said...

Ann Althouse said:

"That cartoon is fucking lighthearted."

Whatever else the cartoon is, it's not lighthearted. Also, what's with Althouse's use of "fucking"? She doesn't often use words like that; why here?

Her comment is of a piece with her post, two days ago, about the teenage suicide in MA. There Althouse objected to "scapegoating" high school bullies who drove a classmate to suicide, apparently because the school authorities didn't protect the bullies from their own viciousness, and besides the dead victim was partly responsible for the bullies' plight.

Why are the two posts of a piece? Because they exhibit moral arrogance and moral superficiality.

knox said...

For me, it's not the molesting itself that makes this situation so untenable: any large organization will have pedophiles in its ranks. (Especially organizations that give offenders access to children.)

For me, it is the church leadership; the "deciders." They are supposed to be spiritual and moral leaders, and they responded in the worst, most unconscionable way. It's hard to deny that they chose to protect the church's reputation instead of innocent children.

The essay is a great one. I wouldn't expect any Catholics to leave the church because of this. But I *would* expect them to demand that every leader involved in a cover-up be fired (or defrocked or whatever the appropriate term is). Law was given a job in the Vatican when his involvement in the cover-ups was revealed. How is that an acceptable punishment?

Until the good members of the church kick out the corrupt leadership, the rest of us will be shaking our heads. That's just human nature, it's not bigotry.

[I went to a Catholic college, though I'm not Catholic myself, and have many Catholic friends as a result. So I'm pretty sure I'm not a Catholic-basher. Tarring people who are outraged by this situation as such is like calling people who object to certain political policies as racist.]

knox said...

think it's possible that the structure of Catholic church tends to encourage this.

I agree.

Beth said...

good post, knox. You said it much better than I did.

bagoh20 said...

John, I agree. Althouse appears to have been replaced by a Moby or Meade is devastating to a girl's senses.

Joseph said...

Shameless. That Church defenders label this anti-Catholic bigotry and defend themselves with "everyone does it" and "its just the trial lawyers" makes my Catholic blood boil. These are serious issues involving child welfare and the Church can't be bothered to acknowledge its role. Sure, there are child molesters in all sorts of institutions, but other institutions respond responsibly when they have notice of this kind of thing.

The Catholic Church is run exclusively by men, men who exclude women from all leadership positions, men who are only of the sexually freakish variety (they agree never to have or at least admit to having sex), men who have never known the responsibility of having children of their own, men who are obsessed with the sin of homosexuality as the source of this scandal. Its disgusting and Catholics who defend this should be ashamed.


Eric said...

The Catholic Church is run exclusively by men, men who exclude women from all leadership positions, men who are only of the sexually freakish variety (they agree never to have or at least admit to having sex)...

This is exactly the kind of thing Catholics find irritating. People outside the church find the occasion of scandal perpetrated by a small minority of the clergy to be the excuse to unload all the ignorant musings they've accumulated over the years. This is what Catholics mean by "Catholic-bashing".

Anonymous said...

I was an altar-boy.

To the devoted, the Catholic church represented comfort and salvation. I remember first mass, the old Italian women covered head to toe in black, widows praying for the deceased. Coming every day in all kinds of weather, receiving communion, lighting candles, mumbling names of husbands no longer there.

I also recall high mass, a lengthy, social affair, where the high-morning parishioners displayed rainbows of fine clothing and jewelry, and placed conspicuous donations in the basket.

But I don't remember being molested, or even any conversations implying such priestly behaviors. No, I was "defrocked" after being accused of drinking the ceremonial wine, that is, the blood of Christ. Convicted without so much as a breathalyzer, much less a hint of DNA.

A useful life lesson.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
traditionalguy said...

Happy Easter weekend to all. The Catholics are under a coordinated media attack this week. So have been the tea party folks that want to throw the Marxists out. But whether we are Catholics or reform protestants, we are all part of the same group being attacked by the media because we are boldly speaking as Christians. So what that the Catholic Church has faults. So do the other denominations. Their political forces also have preserved Christianity many times since 337 AD by allying with Constantines Empire.They try to follow a King who said that his mission is to destroy the works of the Devil, so they do draw fire out of unexpected places. That's often the way faith works out for the Jews first and also for the gentile Christians.

Joseph said...

"This is exactly the kind of thing Catholics find irritating."

Since I'm a Catholic too, I thought, based on this first statement that you were going to agree with my sentiment. The problem with the "its all these anti-Catholic bigots creating this scandal" argument is that this is really all about people within the Church realizing that our parents' and grandparents' fear of challenging and calling out the problems in the church is one of the causes of escalation of the scandal. Outsiders are not the ones keeping this story in the media. It is the Church, its internal dissidents, people it has abused, and people who care about them.

Joseph said...

Also, my musings are not ignorant. They are entirely factual. Please point out factual errors in any part of what I said.

Sharon said...

George Grady

I recommend the book How the Catholic Church Built Western Civilization, if you care to know the history of all the things pertinent to the historical reality that resulted in what we know to be western culture, culminating in "American Exceptionalism". I'm a Catholic who spent my college years in the secular world, my early years of marriage in the Evangelical Protestant world and made my way back to the roots of my Catholic heritage 15 years ago. The problem with the Protestant, Anglican or Lutheran apostolic procession you mention is that those faiths look at the Book of Acts and need to jump ahead about 1500 years to establish their foundation. Only problem is they need the canon and the creed that came to be in those intervening years. As Cardinal John Henry Newman said, if the early church fathers were to find themselves in the present day, as an historian of the faith, he had no doubt they would worship in the Catholic Church.

Additionally, I can't help but notice, that even though in the end, they folded, if it were not for the Catholic teaching on abortion, health care would have passed way back when and been an immense victory for Obama, et. al. That issue alone stalled the process and got people looking at the reality of what was being foisted upon the republic. Needless to say, if there had been even a few more faithful, we wouldn't be heading in this dreadful direction. What irony! And as far as I'm concerned, it is no coincidence that there should be retribution upon the Church in the aftermath.

And Ann....bad taste is bad taste.

Eric said...

To call celibacy "sexually freakish" is just ignorant. And the church is run by men. So what?

I agree there were bishops who didn't do the right thing when abuses came to their attention, but that's the end of the church's culpability as an institution.

Joseph said...

"To call celibacy "sexually freakish" is just ignorant."

No, its honest. Its incredibly rare and unusual, and therefore, freakish. And its hardly a stretch to imagine how a sexually freakish membership requirement would be related to a resulting sexually freakish clandestine child molestation ring among that membership.

"And the church is run by men. So what?"

Ask any mother.

Freeman Hunt said...

You find no more abuse cases, by percentage, in the Catholic Church than you do in its Protestant counterparts. You find a higher rate of abuse in public schools.

So why is the Catholic Church always pilloried for it? Could there be a narrative at play here?

Joseph said...


The Church tends not to view the moral authority of American public schools and the Catholic Church as equivalent.

The public schools responsibly report child molestation to the criminal authorities, the Church does not. When the public schools fail in this duty, they are attacked in the media like they attack the Church for failing to do so.

The public schools fire the offender and promise not to hire such people. The Catholic Church has more important things to worry about than child welfare so they just remind us that homosexuality is a sin and that we need to beware of the devious homosexuals who have invaded their ranks.

Anonymous said...


".."To call celibacy "sexually freakish" is just ignorant."

No, its honest. Its incredibly rare and unusual, and therefore, freakish..."

You're so right! Every time I see the Dalai Lama I know I'm looking at a freak.

Joseph said...

Don't even get me started on the freakishness of the Dalai Lama!

chickelit said...

You find a higher rate of abuse in public schools.

That's an excellent point Freeman. Also, grand theft. There's also plenty of non-abuse crime: a former principle in our town was recently convicted of grand theft. Link. She ripped-off and disappointed a lot of hardworking parents.

George Grady said...


Thank you for the book suggestion; I already know quite a bit about the history of the Christian church, both Catholic and nonCatholic, but it never hurts to learn more.

The problem with the Protestant, Anglican or Lutheran apostolic procession you mention is that those faiths look at the Book of Acts and need to jump ahead about 1500 years to establish their foundation.

That may be the Catholic position, but I don't think it's the position of the various other denominations. For example, the first Anglican priests had been Catholic priests, and trace their succession back through previous Catholic priests. The Reformation was not a rejection of the history of the Christian church; it was a rejection of Catholic claims of being the sole repository of Christian authority.

Only problem is they need the canon and the creed that came to be in those intervening years.

How is this a problem? They're not rejecting Christian beliefs; they're rejecting Catholic claims of sole authority.

As Cardinal John Henry Newman said, if the early church fathers were to find themselves in the present day, as an historian of the faith, he had no doubt they would worship in the Catholic Church.

I have no doubt that the cardinal claimed this. I have serious doubts that the claim itself is true.

Joseph said...

i definitely agree that church doctrine is far more complex than my simplistic and provocative comments allow and that there are beneficial as well as harmful effects associated with forced celibacy of the spiritual caste.

Freeman Hunt said...

Chip, that is brilliant. Love it.

William said...

I'm thinking of Father Ritter. Father Ritter took an interest in homeless adolescents. He founded the Covenant House to give shelter to these kids and a sense of direction to their lives. He saved a lot of kids from a life on the street. He also apparently sexually abused some of them....The narrative of good people doing good things and bad people doing bad things is easy to grasp. But we don't know how to judge someone like Fr. Ritter. Maybe all his good works were founded on some creepy type of motivation. Does that discredit all his good deeds?....Fr. Ritter was removed from his post at the Covenant House but was allowed to celebrate Mass in his forced retirement. I don't know if he was a good man with a serious flaw, or a flawed man who used the works of goodness as a manipulative ploy. Some stories don't have a moral.

Anonymous said...

Sexual abusers of children more than cynically have taken advantage of the Catholic Church to gain access to children. These people are psychopaths who can pretend any behavior to manipulate their victims. Being psychopaths they are without conscience.

The Church, being the Church, believe these people, having taken what they believe are Holy Oaths, are redeemable. This is their big mistake. They do not realize the Church is being used by monsters.


Joan said...

My problem with the cartoon: "How will we ever forgive ourselves?" -- "We're priests."

Forgiveness doesn't come from priests, forgiveness comes from God. In the confessional, Christ acts through the priest, in the same way that Christ acts through the priest during consecration in the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Aside from that, it is a great cartoon because of the elements of truth it contains. Pedophiles are attracted to organizations which serve large numbers of children. Pedophiles seek to be set up in positions of trust and responsibility over young people, from which they will spend months or years grooming their victims.

In order to teach in the religious education program at my parish, I am required to take a course every year on these issues. The information we're given is detailed and, frankly, horrifying, but we need to know these things so we can be alert to them and protect the children in our care.

rcocean said...

You have to remember who runs NPR, and listens/donates to them. Think Andrew Sullivan or Babs Streisand. To them - the Anchoress essay *is* an incredibly positive story about the Catholic Church.

Its like when the New York Times runs a December 25th Page 2 story about that weird holiday called "Christmas" - to them its reaching out.

Paddy O said...

Bash 'em, and keep bashing 'em.

St. Paul wrote, "It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.

Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast works through the whole batch of dough? Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast—as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, but with bread without yeast, the bread of sincerity and truth.

I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat.

What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. "Expel the wicked man from among you." 1 Corinthans 5:1ff.

That this was overlooked, dismissed, ignored, until the State stepped in to force action is immensely embarrassing. Stop with the excuses. Admit the shame of letting this happen--and it was allowed from the very heights of the leadership. For decades, probably for centuries.

Confess the sin, accept the blame, take up your cross. Anytime there is abuse done by someone who bears the name of Christ, they are anti-Christ. And they should be treated accordingly. No ifs, ands, or buts. No matter what stories they read or sermons they preached. They are anti-Christ, daring to use the name of Jesus in disgusting ways. Anyone who shelters them should be ashamed, and anyone who defends those who shelter them are showing where their allegiance lies, and it's not with the Jesus of the Scriptures.

Paddy O said...

"So why is the Catholic Church always pilloried for it?"

I think that's the negative aspect of a highly hierarchical church. All organizations, sadly, have similar realities. But, the hierarchy of the church is, by definition, supposed to guard against this. So, when there is abuse at this scale, and the hierarchy is shown to have been complicit in a coverup, it is an easy next step to censure the whole of the church, which is represented by the whole of the bishops--who didn't respond as leaders should.

Decentralized churches have problems, but you can't go too high or far in applying the blame.

traditionalguy said...

Yes the Catholics have covered up abuse. And I have also seen Baptists cover up abuse. Pride goes before a cover up, unless some one spills the beans, and then destruction comes .The truth is that cover ups seldom work because more than one human knows what happened. Yet the good done by the Catholic Church remains . When confused by a religious idea, a great resource is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Admitting that does not make me any less a Presbyterian that thinks like Calvin and Knox. But over my lifetime Catholics have earned their reputation as worthy of my great respect.We are all members of one body with one Head and He picks the family from all types of persons.

Beth said...

Paddy O. presents the right answer to William's questions about Father Ritter. There may be philosophical questions about good people doing bad things, or bad people doing good things, but in the real world, not the metaphysical one, Father Ritter belonged in jail, not saying Mass in some comfortable retirement. He committed awful crimes.

As a teen, I knew kids my age who had short stays in Covenant House, and some were molested by people who worked there; they took it as the price they paid for the shelter, and for some, things were worse at home, or on the street. The same thing happened at Hope Haven-Madonna Manor, a nearby home for orphans and kids whose families couldn't deal with them. There, it wasn't just sexual abuse but also plain old physical meanness - beatings with fists and belts, spraying a kid with a hose and leaving him out in the cold for some kind of "punishment," withholding food and water. My brother worked there for a few weeks as an orderly and had nightmares later.

I once worked with a woman who told me she'd lived in a convent in Ireland until she managed to scrape up some money and immigrate to the US in her thirties. She'd been put there against her will, at age 16, after her parents saw her kiss a boy on the street. She described her time there as brutal and it was only later that I realized she'd been in a Magdalen Asylum.

I don't believe brutality or pedophilia are inherent parts of the Catholic church, but I do think the culture of authority and hierarchy allow those things to fester when they take root.

Awful things can and do happen in any institution where children are present, as others have pointed out, but the lack of such a pervasive, world-wide, centralized authority, makes it easier for the crimes to be exposed and prosecuted, not dealt with via internal processes. Victims are taught that their abuser is imbued with the authority of God Himself, so how the hell can they challenge that? Certainly that happens too in Protestant or evangelical or Mormon enclaves and cults, and in families, for that matter, where loyalty and love - as Scalia describes - make it much harder for victims to escape their abusers.

Beth said...

Correction - I knew people who'd stayed in Covenant House in my twenties, not teens. I'm getting old enough now to put those years in one big basket.

Beth said...

I feel I should add, so as not to be understood, that living in New Orleans, a Catholic town if there ever was one, I see fine people every day, doing good things for people in need, working in and with the Catholic Church.

Omaha1 said...

The abuse of children by priests (or anyone) is indefensible.

That said, this is an old story, and I resent the media's gleeful braying about it during Holy Week.

I am not Catholic, but if I was, I would feel extremely resentful towards "mainstream" journalists, who are incapable of concealing their contempt for the Christian faith in any of its various forms.

This week we will surely be treated on national TV to innumerable tedious documentaries "proving" that Jesus was not a real person, that he was not resurrected from death, that he fathered illegitimate children, that he was homosexual, etc., etc.

We live in a fallen world, where the wicked seek and attain positions of authority - policemen, clergy, scout leaders, even "community organizers" - in order to prey on the weak and vulnerable. This truth only reinforces our desperate need for repentance and redemption rather than refuting it.

Paddy O said...

"That said, this is an old story, and I resent the media's gleeful braying about it during Holy Week."

I disagree. Well, not about your feeling resentment, that's not my responsibility, but I disagree about this not being fitting for Holy Week.

Judas was a very big part of the story. And there still are Judas' out there, betraying their Lord for a bit of silver or... whatever.

The stories about the corruption are not the end of the story. Because we say that while the church ignored the crimes, they are evils, and that the victims of these crimes are not left to suffer on their own. Jesus died from the same sorts of evil men, and he suffers with those who are suffering, suffers for those who are suffering. And gives the hope there is more than suffering. There is resurrection and new life, even after abuse and crimes.

We have hope. No matter what Judas did and what Judas does, there's still hope in God.

The cross was not an isolated, random event meant for our private liturgical ponderings of our own existential guilt. The cross is a story of betrayal, injustice, abuse, and death. We are reminded that it was the religious leaders who pushed for the crucifixion, who sated their thirst for control with flesh and blood of an innocent.

We see the shame of sexual abuse and see the people who do that as being Judas, crucifiers of Christ, evil and wicked, sitting in the lowest levels of hell for betraying those children and their vows to serve God.

The cross is not pretty. It is not even religious. It's a brutal testimony to human corruption.

Fortunately, we are not left on Friday. Sunday awaits. And there is still hope. But, now, on Saturday, we can and should mourn, for the death and sadness such abuse causes.

knox said...

Paddy O., beautiful post. Really.

joewxman said...

im a little late to this thread but i will put it plainly and simply about why i remain a catholic.

This is my church. Some people run from issues...some stay and wait for others to solve them..and some try and find solutions.

I am an active member. In my very small way i am trying to fix my church to save it. I do not run.

Michael Haz said...

Thank you, Paddy. That was a wonderful essay.

Abuse is horrible and needs to be rooted out wherever it occurs.

The NYT's Holy Week obsession with the Catholic church conveniently overlooks the higher rates of child abuse in Protestant churches, and the even higher level in public schools