February 15, 2014 – Separating Fact from Myth

In the spirit of the Winter Olympics, I begin by borrowing the line from one of the most famous games and broadcasting calls in history.  Brian has blogged for two weeks in a row!  Do you believe in miracles?!?!?!  YES!!!!!  I didn’t get to see it live this morning, but T.J. Oshie of the Blues put on a show in the shootout win over Russia.  Go U.S.A.!!!  I haven’t followed the Olympics too closely to this point, but I do get in to the hockey.  It’s the best players in the world, some who are teammates otherwise in the NHL, going at it for national pride.

I hope you had a good St. Valentines Day.  I had my old stand-by line at the ready in case anyone asked me: “Do you have a date for Valentine’s Day?”  My answer: “Yes, the date is February 14 – same as last year.”

I debated on whether to tackle this subject again since I had already talked about it so often, but I think it is important to stay updated and also to point out misguided information.  Last week a United Nations committee slammed the Vatican’s handling of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church and accused the church of protecting itself rather than the victims.  The report follows a hearing last month where Vatican officials were grilled over the church’s handling of child abuse allegations.  The report stated that “The committee is gravely concerned that the Holy See has not acknowledged the extent of the crimes committed, has not taken the necessary measures to address cases of child sexual abuse and protect children, and has adopted policies and practices which has led to the continuation of the abuse by and the impunity of the perpetrators.”  Here is a link to an article which describes the report in more detail:

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/02/05/us-vatican-abuse-un-idUSBREA140K620140205

Those who do not follow the Catholic Church closely would probably agree with these conclusions.  This past week I was in a discussion about current events, and one of the things brought up was charges against a deacon in a Baptist church in Fairview Heights for sex crimes.  Before all of the details of the story were raised, someone said “well, must have been a Catholic priest!”  We continue to be under indictment as a church for crimes and cover-ups which were mostly committed 30 or more years ago.  As I have said, and as we know, horrible crimes were committed.  And as we know now, it was wrong for church leaders not to remove known sexual perpetrators from active ministry (although at the time many doctors felt that pedophiles could be cured through rehabilitation).  However, what continues to be overlooked is that over the last 10-15 years, the Catholic Church, particularly in the United States, has been one of the most pro-active in dealing with accusations of sexual abuse.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights recently published a fact sheet on priestly sexual abuse which I thought would be helpful to reprint here:

Now that Pope Francis has set up a commission to study priestly sexual abuse, Bill Donohue urged reporters to get their facts straight:

Myth: Children have been the main victims of priestly sexual abuse.

Fact: Since more than 95 percent of all the victims of priestly sexual abuse, as reported by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, are not prepubescent, that means that adolescents have been the primary victims.

Myth: Pedophile priests have been the problem.

Fact: Homosexual priests have been the problem. Proof: 81 percent of the victims have been male, and more than 95 percent have been postpubescent. When males have sex with postpubescent males, it is called homosexuality.

Myth: The problem is on-going.

Fact: The homosexual scandal took place mostly between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. In the last ten years, the average number of credible accusations made against 40,000 priests is in the single digits.

Myth: The Church’s repressive teachings on sexuality are the problem.

Fact: It was liberals outside the Church who pushed for the sexual revolution, and it was liberals in the Church who abetted the revolution in the seminaries. Moreover, it was liberals who promoted therapy as the way to deal with molesters, instead of using punitive measures.

Myth: The Church has done nothing about the problem.

Fact: Pope Benedict XVI made it more difficult for active homosexual priests to enter the priesthood, thus getting directly to the source of the problem. Also, steps have been taken in every diocese to ensure that anyone who works for the Church must participate in a training program aimed at curtailing the abuse of minors.

Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, head of the Institute of Psychology at the Gregorian University in Rome, and director of the Centre for the Protection of Minors, said the report does not take into account the many positive steps that have been taken in recent years to prevent the abuse of minors.  Despite the many efforts that have been taken by the Church to ensure child protection, Fr. Zollner said, the wording of the report wrongly implies that the problems of the past are still current.  “It says priests are not punished,” Fr. Zollner said, and that “the Holy See does not do anything in prevention, or does not cooperate with the civil authorities.”  It is “absolutely wrong” to make these assertions as if they apply to the present, he said, as they do not reflect the policy of the Holy See, nor the guidelines set by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“It looks as if some parts [of the report] are just repeating things that have been in opinion papers and blogs for many years,” he said, without taking into account the work that has been done for more than a decade.  “The report focuses on the wrongdoing, the sins, the crimes that have happened in the past, and had been covered up.” These offences did take place and ought to be denounced, he affirmed, but “to say that the Church has never defended victims, has never taken into account child safety, has always protected priests, and does not punish priests, is simply wrong.”

Let us continue to pray for those priests (the vast majority) whom have conducted their ministry with morality and dignity.  And let us work to erase the untruths that continue to plague the church.

Have a great week.  Peace.

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