On MercatorNet from Italian sociologist Massimo Introvigne, whose books I have read with interest… I recommend his book on Hammas… comes this with my emphases and comments. The piece is on the long side, so I will give you just a bit of it.
Moral panic flares again
Is priestly paedophilia a problem? Yes, says an Italian sociologist. Is it a big problem? No.
Why is there talk again of paedophile priests, based on a case in Germany, which drags in people who are close to the Pope and now even the Pope himself? Does sociology have something to say about this or should we leave it completely to the journalists? I believe sociology has much to say, and it must not remain silent because of a fear of displeasing some.
The current discourse on paedophile priests – considered from a sociological perspective – represents a typical example of "moral panic". The concept was coined in the 1970s to explain how certain problems become the subject of "social hyperconstruction". More precisely, [NB] moral panics are defined as socially constructed problems that are characterised by a systematic amplification of the true facts in the media or in political discourse.
Two other characteristics have been cited as typical of moral panics. First, problems that have existed for decades are reconstructed in the media and political accounts as new or as the subject of a recent dramatic increase. Second, their incidence is exaggerated by statistics plucked from the air which, while not confirmed by academic studies, are repeated by the media and inspire persistent media campaigns. Historian and sociologist Philip Jenkins, of Pennsylvania State University, has emphasised the role of "moral entrepreneurs" in the creation and management of panics whose agenda is not always revealed. [I don't know about you, but I think this is really interesting...] Moral panics do not bring any good. They distort the perception of the problems and compromise the efficacy of the measures which should resolve them. After a harmful analysis inevitably there comes a harmful intervention. [Consider how the media has reconstructed a wrong from decades ago into a huge issue today, both ignoring what the Church has actually done and even making what the Church is doing more difficult.]
Let there be no misunderstanding: at the origin of moral panics are objective and real dangers. They do not invent a problem; they exaggerate its statistical dimensions. In a series of excellent studies, Jenkins demonstrated how the issue of paedophile priests is perhaps the most typical moral panic. Two characteristic elements exist: a fact which serves as a starting point, and an exaggeration of this fact by moral entrepreneurs.
But there have also been many sensational cases of priests who have been falsely accused. Indeed, these cases multiplied in the 1990s, when some legal firms recognised they could reap million dollar returns even on the basis of mere suspicion. Appeals for zero tolerance are justifiable, but there should also be zero tolerance for defaming innocent priests. Nor do the numbers change significantly from 2002 to 2010. The John Jay College study already noted a "significant decline" in cases in the 2000s. New investigations have been rare, and sentences extremely rare, as a result of more rigorous controls introduced by American bishops as well as the Holy See.
So, does the John Jay College study tells us then, as one often reads, that 4 percent of American priests are paedophiles? Not at all. According to the research, 78.2 percent of the accusations involved minors who had advanced beyond puberty. Having sexual relations with a 17-year-old is certainly not a beautiful thing, and much less so for a priest, but it is not paedophilia. Therefore, only 958 American priests were accused of true paedophilia over 52 years, 18 per year. There were only 54 convictions, a little less than one per year. [The statistics, therefore, point to this as a homosexual issue.]
[QUAERITUR:] Why are old and very often well-known cases being exhumed in 2010 on a daily basis, always attacking the Pope? [By, in primis, Hell's Bible... the New York Times...] This is paradoxical if one considers the great severity of then Cardinal Ratzinger and of Benedict XVI on this very theme. The moral entrepreneurs who organise the panic [I think that is a phrase you should remember] have an agenda which is increasingly clear and which is not essentially the protection of children. [EXACTLY! And I have made that point here. They are not interested in protecting children. Read this next part carefully....] This is a time when political, juridical and even electoral decisions in Europe and elsewhere are being made about the abortion pill RU-486, euthanasia, the recognition of same sex unions. Only the voice of the Pope and the Church is being raised to defend life and the family. The reading of certain articles in the media shows that very powerful lobby groups are seeking to silence this voice with the worst possible defamation — and unfortunately an easy one to make — that of favouring or tolerating paedophilia. [That has the ring of truth.]
These more or less Masonic lobby groups show the sinister power of technocracy which was raised by Benedict XVI himself in his encyclical Caritas in veritate and in the denunciation of John Paul II, in his Message for the World Day of Peace of 1985. They warned of "hidden aims" – alongside others which are "openly promoted" which are "directed at subjecting all populations to regimes in which God does not count".
This is truly a dark hour. It takes one back to the prediction of a great Italian Catholic thinker of the 19th century, Emiliano Avogadro della Motta (1798-1865). [NB:] He predicted that after the devastation caused by secular ideologies [the 20th century rise of totalitarianism and world wars] an authentic "demon worship" would spring up [! I think we can find some examples of that now.] which would attack the family and the true concept of marriage. [The rise of aggressive homosexuality.] Reestablishing the sociological truth about moral panics over priests and paedophilia will not of itself resolve the problems and will not stop the lobby groups. But it is a small and proper tribute to the greatness of this Pope and to a Church which is wounded and defamed because they will not be silent on the issues of life and the family.
This is a strong tonic. WDTPRS kudos to Massimo Introvigne.