Time For Some Fair and Balanced Reporting on Clerical Sexual Abuse

logoWe’ve all seen that for weeks now, and especially during Holy Week, Catholics have been subjected by the secular and liberal catholic media to yet another onslaught of old stories about the Catholic Church and clerical sexual abuse.

Once again, op-ed pieces such as this, this and this have argued that

  • mandatory celibacy and an
  • all-male hierarchy

are responsible for the high numbers of Catholic priest child sexual abusers.

Television and print media outlets incessantly advance the image of the Catholic priesthood as an exclusively male club of pedophiles presided over by bishops and a Pope eager to protect their dirty secrets.  

We’ve heard critics complain that

  • if priests could marry and
  • if the Catholic priesthood were open to women,

this crisis would never have happened.

But celibacy and an all-male priesthood are not responsible for clerical sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Period.

The proof is easily available for all to see.

The people behind the mainstream media (MSM) attacks on the Church have certain goals, short-term and long-term.  Among their immediate objectives is to distort the view of the average person about the Church to the point where the Church will be forced to ordain women and, for the Latin Church, eliminate mandatory celibacy.

They want to twist the Church way from being faithful to her conviction that a male ordained priesthood is of divine origin and away from the counter-cultural sign of clerical celibacy. If the Church caves in to save its image in a secular sense, it’s game over.

Clerical sexual abuse of children is simply the convenient club which which they hope to beat this message into the heads of the people in the street.

Therefore, they are hammering into you that both ordination for men only and celibacy produce a pederast priesthood.  That is fallacious. Period.

I think that there are members of the Catholic hierarchy who are going to be affected by this onslaught. They need to straighten their backs and get some facts.

During the past week I have done an internet search about child sexual abuse among Protestant ministers in the USA, most of whom are married.

I was, I think you will be, stunned by the results, though we wouldn’t be shocked had the MSM reported fairly about clerical sexual abuse of children across the denominational spectrum!

Try this out for yourselves. It’s not hard and doesn’t take a lot of time.

On your own computers, right now, do a Google search using this string: “Protestant ministers child sex abuse”. Or vary the string with “Anglican ministers child sex abuse”, “Baptist ministers child sex abuse”, “Presbyterian ministers child sex abuse.”

Don’t take my word for it.

See for yourselves what the media have been hiding from you for years!

You can easily find out on the web about married Protestant ministers, Eastern Orthodox priests and Jewish rabbis who have sexually abused children, and about their denominational cover-ups.

Sound like a familiar story line? But this time it’s not about everyone’s favorite punching-bag, the Catholic Church and its all-male, celibate priesthood.

This is the story you won’t hear about from the mainstream media. Nor will you hear about it in the NCR, America, US Catholic and other liberal, Pope-hating, so-called Catholic journals that want you to think that celibacy is responsible for this crisis.

I want to state here and now my profound respect for some very fine Protestant publications that have led the battle in their own denominations to report the story about Protestant ministers and pedophilia that the mainstream media has played down. They deserve everyone’s gratitude.

In writing about this, I am not attacking other religious communities.  I am not excusing abuse by Catholics.  I am not engaging in Schadenfreude (“delight at another’s misfortune”).

I am not writing about this so that Catholics can feel relieved in the knowledge that clerical sexual abuse of minors happens in all the other churches.

I have only one reason for writing about this.  We must debunk the premise being pushed by the MSM and their Catholic allies in the Church.

The MSM, for reasons all too clear, has focused on celibacy and on the male priesthood as the causes of this crisis. The only way to debunk this argument is to show how widespread this crisis is among married clergy in denominations where women are ordained and where they take part in church government.

But don’t take my word on this. Check for yourselves. Google it.

In the meantime, consider the following.

  • Writing a comment following a blog posting here, on April 3, 2010 at 11:32 am, Bob said, “I was molested and raped by my Lutheran minister, who also is my father. He molested and raped all of his sons, and at least 30 children in his flock. People above him were aware of the allegations, and did nothing! I’m not alone, I just wish the media would cover all victims of abuse, and how all institutions handled it in the 20th century.”
  • Time Magazine ranked the Southern Baptist Convention’s refusal to establish a database of clergy sex offenders one of the most under-reported news stories in 2008. The story was also reported here by Bob Allen, writing on December 17, 2008, for the Associated Baptist Press website, one of the most forthright sources of news about Protestant clergy pedophilia.
  • Incidentally, there is some evidence on the Internet that child sexual abuse committed by women has also been under-reported. In a story I found here dated November 9, 2009, a British charity agency claimed that reports of women carrying out sex attacks on children have soared in the last five years. ChildLine said there had been a 132 percent rise in reports of female sex abuse made to its telephone helpline, compared to a 27 percent rise in abuse by men in the same five-year period. “Most sex abuse calls to ChildLine come from girls saying they were assaulted by a male,” Sue Minto, head of the helpline, said. “But a growing number of callers now say they were sexually abused by a female. Many would find it shocking that any woman – let alone a mother – can sexually assault a child. But they do.” This reports concerns women in general, not women ministers, but the article suggests that there is a time lag in people reporting child sexual abuse committed by women, and that these reports are only now beginning to escalate in number. So clerical sexual abuse of minors may not turn out to be an exclusively male crime after all.
  • On June 18, 2007 the Insurance Journal (here) reproduced a report stating that the three companies which insure the majority of Protestant churches in America say they typically receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by Protestant clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members. The report went on to comment, “the Catholic Church has revealed that there have been 13,000 credible accusations against Catholic clerics since 1950.” This report prompted one blogger here to comment, “Responding to heavy media scrutiny, the Catholic Church has reported that since 1950, 13,000 ‘credible accusations’ have been brought against Catholic clerics (about 228 per year.) The fact that this number includes all credible accusations, not just those that have involved insurance companies, and still is less than the number of cases in Protestant churches reported by just three insurance companies, should be making front page of The New York Times and the network evening news. It’s not.”

This is the kind of media bias I am concerned about, the kind that makes it look like, among ordained ministers, pedophilia is found predominantly within the secretive, closed ranks of the all-male, celibate Catholic clergy.

This bias is unfair and it works to undermine confidence in clerical celibacy.

And these instances of bias are just the tip of the iceberg.

WDTPRS will continue to drill at this in time to come (or you can just check out the Internet yourselves).

It’s time we stand up and begin to form something like another Tea Party Movement, this one aimed at anti-Catholic media bias as represented in the under-reporting of Protestant clerical pedophilia.

I know that others before me, like the courageous Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, have been out in front on this issue. I want all of us to join their ranks. “We’re mad and we’re not going to take it anymore!”

We need action.

Get your friends and Catholic organizations involved! Let me suggest for starters that the next time you see a report about Catholic priest pedophilia that is not coupled with a report about Protestant clergy pedophilia, contact the media in question and tell them that each time they do this you will change the TV channel or not read their paper, and that you will contact their commercial sponsors about this anti-Catholic media coverage. And tell them that if their journalists are too stupid or too lazy to find instances of Protestant clergy pedophilia, all they need to do is to look for it on the Internet!

Let the media oppose cover-ups involving all clergy, not just Catholic clergy!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Clerical Sexual Abuse, SESSIUNCULA, The Drill, The future and our choices, The Last Acceptable Prejudice. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Scelata says:

    If only women and married men were allowed to be swim coaches….

  2. Lee says:

    “When you have read to the bottom of this entry, do a Google search using this string: ‘Protestant ministers child sex abuse’. ”

    For that matter, do a search query on “soccer coach” sex abuse; “driving instructor” sex abuse; “drama coach” sex abuse; “chess coach” sex abuse; “sixth grade teacher” sex abuse…or practically ANYTHING. It’s pretty amazing.

  3. THREEHEARTS says:

    Years ago the retired United Church of Canada Moderator told me that if a social study was done on the east coast of America the incidence of paedophilia amongst the Evangelistic sects would be frightening as the perps pass from church to church. They moved each time they were caught and due to secular laws no one could ask why they were fired. remember the pastors and youth leaders in these sects are hired and fired. We have the charismatic pastors who have sexual relations with what are called wards and consider themselves still in the Good books of the Holy Spirit as they still speak in tongues (Glossalia not Zenonalia mind you) and have therefore not sinned Msgr Knox…Enthusiasm is a place to read. The latest case last year is the Fresh Fire group here in Abbotsford BC. Read it it is on the “net”

  4. Lee says:

    Further to the above, rather than complain of unfair coverage, or biased coverage, we are actually in an excellent position to sieze this entire situation as an evangelical opportunity.

    To illustrate, on Oregon Live, the online presence of the Oregonian, a Catholic young man wrote an editorial criticizing Abp. Vlazny for urging priests and parishioners to cancel their subscriptions to the Oregonian. I jumped in with a response to an earlier reader who had made the following comment:

    “This outrage seems to be manufactured simply to question and enrage the Catholic Church.”

    Absolutely. This is a very successful ploy to totally marginalize the Church, and take her out as a factor in public debate.

    Whitewolf, for example, seems to be under the impression that we are in the middle of an ongoing sexual abuse scandal in the Church, but we are not. Except for the odd case, the situation has been dealt with. Perhaps he only reads the Oregonian.

    Meanwhile, do a search with the following query: “swimming coaches” sex abuse. Or “soccer coaches” sex abuse. It’s pretty amazing.

    The reality is that we have a huge problem as a society, and so long as we think it is the Catholic Church, or the Boy Scouts, or public school teachers, we’re kidding ourselves.

    The entire society is hyper-sexualized, and media such as the Oregonian have everything to do with it. So long as parents continue to import the Oregonian, television, and other vectors of “the culture” into the family home, we shall continue to produce perverts of every stripe-by the thousands.

    Perhaps it is time for a little self-denial, a little sobriety, a little modesty. Perhaps it is time for words like “chastity” and “decency” to reappear in our public conversation.

    It is either that or the continued, systematic destruction of our children.

    This is obvious, is it not?

    Lee Gilbert

    In other words, we are in an excellent position to point out that the entire society is one sick puppy and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is the solution.

  5. Fr. Andrew says:

    It is amazing that this is not reported and not talked about either. The com box for the Huff-Po piece from Fr. Martin is further proof that so many just do not get it. If you bring up these simple facts that are available to anyone, you are accused of avoidance and defending evil. What gives? Celibacy does not cause sex abuse for the Lutheran or Baptist pastor! Can we move on already?

    No we cannot. Because we are a sex saturated society that finds strange amounts of fulfillment in making sure that everyone is “getting some” because this will give you the proper amount of happiness. Really? Anecdotal evidence tells me otherwise. Research proves it.

    I am getting more and more disheartened by the fact that so many people in the Church feel the need to tell me that priests need to get married. I am a religious priest, so their insight bites very deep into the vows I freely took. I need to find a way to remind folks in a nice way to think before commenting!

  6. Norah says:

    Most sexual abuse is the one most not talked about – incest- ask any psychologist.

  7. Norah says:

    Abuse in US Public Schools is virtually ignored by the media.


    AP: Sexual Misconduct [Abuse if it was Catholic schools] Plagues US [Public] Schools

    Educational Sexual Misconduct
    Charol Shakeshaft 2004
    Commissioned by the US Department of Education

  8. markomalley says:

    http://www.reformation.com/ is a very incomplete list of Protestant clergy who have been convicted of (not accused of) abuse.

    It’s relatively easy, courtesy of Google Yahoo! news RSS feeds to find local stories on an almost daily basis. But those stories never go beyond the most local coverage.

  9. Onward Catholic Knights!

    Lead on the charge Father Z!

  10. Lets try this, Father:

    Any adult who gains sexual gratification from children should be drawn, quartered, and fed to the rats.

    I mean ANY ADULT – with no regards to religion, clerical status, sexual orientation, or whatnot.

    Sexual abuse must never be tolerated. The religion, etc of the abuser is a non-issue to me.

  11. al007italia says:

    This whole media frenzy is NOT about sexual abuse. If it were you would here more about how much worse it is outside the Catholic Church. You would see front pag coverage of how Planned Parenthood covers up rape, incest, etc. You would have a media screaming about Obama appointees that promote the very things they are attacking the Catholic Church for covering up. This is NOT about sex abuse. This is about a concerted effort to destroy the Catholic Church.

    I will not be silent. As I pointed out in a post on my blog, for a little over the 1st 3 months of this year we have had 5 educators charged with sexual abuse. That is well on the way for there to be 20 this year. When you average the number of priests charged over the past 5o years it comes to about 1.2 a year. Yet which is getting all the media attention?

    Keep up the good work getting the word out.

  12. southern orders says:

    We need to fight back with righteous indignation and the bishops need to get on board with a national truth telling campaign like ads on poular shows in prime time. Could you imagine the outrage is the New York Times and other msm went after any aspect of Judaism as it has for us? Anti-Catholicism is the greatest scandal of our times and the msm is the bigot. It would make Joseph Stalin blush.

  13. Oneros says:

    I think saying “celibacy doesn’t cause pedophilia” is obviously true, but is a red herring.

    Some silly people may be claiming that, but I think the more nuanced claim is that a celibate homosocial culture caused the disconnect and out-of-touch attitudes among the hierarchy.

    That several structural features of the clergy (including being all male, celibate, hiearchal, bureaucratic, the “adult boarding school” model of seminary formation, and the conception of the priesthood as a full-time salaried occupation)…combine in such a way to create an isolated world of clergy socio-politically. Which makes priests primary social loyalties to lie mainly within the priesthood itself, which can lead to a certain institutional defensiveness and myopia. Not all those features would have to be changed (some, like being all male, CAN’T be), but SOMETHING’S gotta give.

    It should also be noted that other men very often abuse their OWN children or step-children. Priests’ rates of child molestation should therefore not be compared to the population of men as a whole, but rather to other SINGLE men only, when deciding whether their rate is higher than expected.

  14. Oneros says:

    “This whole media frenzy is NOT about sexual abuse.”

    Correct. It’s about the COVER UP of sexual abuse.

    And the lack of manly action and leadership on the part of our hierarchy, even now after the revelations, who have chosen instead to be defensive, institutionally self-preservationist, and “conservative” of the Status Quo in the worst sense of the word, when almost everyone all along the spectrum would like to see major reforms in the Church (of some sort or another).

  15. Scott W. says:

    And the lack of manly action and leadership on the part of our hierarchy, even now after the revelations,

    uhhh….I’m all ears for what case you are thinking of. The Munich case, the Murphy case, the Kiesel case, none of these establish what their hackish media wants them to establish–disasterous misjudgement or criminal neglect on the part of the Holy Father. In fact in the Murphy case, it is clear that culpability can be assigned to a reform-minded bishop.

    To wit: If you got some facts, let’s hear them. Hold the abstract structural theory bs.

  16. Padre Steve says:

    Thanks for keeping us informed Fr. Z. Let’s all join the Knights of Columbus in their novena for the Holy Father!

  17. Henry Edwards says:

    The Better Pope
    Ross Douthat, Op-ed Columnist

    After reviewing some facts about both John Paul II and Benedict XVI:

    “Has Benedict done enough to clean house and show contrition? Alas, no. Has his Vatican responded to the latest swirl of scandal with retrenchment, resentment, and an un-Christian dose of self-pity? Absolutely. Can this pontiff regain the kind of trust and admiration, for himself and for his office, that John Paul II enjoyed? Not a chance.”

    “But as unlikely as it seems today, Benedict may yet deserve to be remembered as the better pope.”

    Fair and balanced?

  18. dhgyapong says:

    Not only does this anti-male/celibate priesthood agenda need to be exposed, the agenda of the trial lawyers who see deep pockets in the Vatican and want to hammer home the idea that the Catholic Church is like any corporation with a CEO, so they can “pierce the corporate veil” and step past dioceses that are bankrupted by abuse settlements to obtain money from the Holy See.

    I had an interesting conversation yesterday with a lawyer recently and she mentioned that using the media has increasingly become a tactic in litigation.

    Much of the so-called “new” information is coming from documents that are part of the discovery process in sex abuse cases that are being selectively released.


  19. MrsHall says:

    When I was in junior high my youth pastor (married with children) was convicted of molesting two boys in our church (Assembly of God). He had molested his wife’s younger brother, and it was later found that we were the third church that he had done this at, but the other churches just moved him. Thank God our senior pastor had the guts to deal with the controversy that surrounded it and turned him in. It was horrible for our church—the local media had a field day with it. So when we were converting to Catholicism and well-meaning friends said, “Well, you’d better watch your kids,” I could honestly say, “I already do.” I don’t leave my kids with people that I don’t know, no matter what their “position” or “title.” It’s not about the abuse scandal in the Church, it’s about the abuse scandal. Period. These google searches people are doing only prove that children are vulnerable everywhere and that’s why God gave them parents.

  20. meherbaba says:

    It bothers me that it is not a new scandal but the same old scandal hauled out with not a single child on view. Every 50 year old man who comes forth to claim he was molested at the age of 13 is automatically believed it seems to me. No one is interested in how the police handled anything when they were involved. Lawrence C. Murphy was investigated by the police. The D. A. says he was not charged because the statute of limitations had expired. Now how can that be? Murphy was never given a new assignment. That is what is important. In the Kiesel case he was given 3 years probation. That is a slap on the hand. But that is how the law viewed things 30 years ago. Is anyone interested? Again, no, the focus is on his desire to leave the priesthood and how it was handled. My daughter was teaching catechism to a class of 10 year olds when the priest came in and told them that by the time they were middle aged they would see women ordained. Now that really bothers me. I think part of the problem is right in the church.


  21. Henry Edwards says:

    Obviously, the Church needs some competence in the way it presents itself publicly. However, at the present time, I believe there is no underlying problem (and no cover-up of one) to be defensive about.

    For instance, in 2009 there were precisely six (6) credible cases of sexual abuse reported in the Catholic Church in the U.S. There are about 45 thousand Catholic priests in the U.S., which amounts to 7500 priests for each single credible accusation last year.

    Can anyone imagine that any other definable segment of society had a lesser sexual abuse problem last year?

    Might one conclude that the Catholic Church is the safest place for a child to be in the whole country?

    Why should not the Church take an aggressive positive approach, rather than a negative defensive one?

  22. stgemma_0411 says:

    Vatican Information Service has posted what the policy of the CDF is, since they instituted the Motu Proprio in 2001. The following is the text of it:


    VATICAN CITY, 12 APR 2010 (VIS) – Today the Vatican website, under the section called “Focus”, published a guide to understanding the procedures of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on sexual abuse allegations towards minors.

    Guide to Understanding Basic CDF Procedures concerning Sexual Abuse Allegations

    The applicable law is the Motu Proprio “Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela” (MP SST) of 30 April 2001 together with the 1983 Code of Canon Law. This is an introductory guide which may be helpful to lay persons and non-canonists.

    A: Preliminary Procedures

    The local diocese investigates every allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by a cleric.

    If the allegation has a semblance of truth the case is referred to the CDF. The local bishop transmits all the necessary information to the CDF and expresses his opinion on the procedures to be followed and the measures to be adopted in the short and long term.

    Civil law concerning reporting of crimes to the appropriate authorities should always be followed.

    During the preliminary stage and until the case is concluded, the bishop may impose precautionary measures to safeguard the community, including the victims. Indeed, the local bishop always retains power to protect children by restricting the activities of any priest in his diocese. This is part of his ordinary authority, which he is encouraged to exercise to whatever extent is necessary to assure that children do not come to harm, and this power can be exercised at the bishop’s discretion before, during and after any canonical proceeding.

    B: Procedures authorized by the CDF

    The CDF studies the case presented by the local bishop and also asks for supplementary information where necessary.

    The CDF has a number of options:

    B1 Penal Processes

    The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct a judicial penal trial before a local Church tribunal. Any appeal in such cases would eventually be lodged to a tribunal of the CDF.

    The CDF may authorize the local bishop to conduct an administrative penal process before a delegate of the local bishop assisted by two assessors. The accused priest is called to respond to the accusations and to review the evidence. The accused has a right to present recourse to the CDF against a decree condemning him to a canonical penalty. The decision of the Cardinals members of the CDF is final.

    Should the cleric be judged guilty, both judicial and administrative penal processes can condemn a cleric to a number of canonical penalties, the most serious of which is dismissal from the clerical state. The question of damages can also be treated directly during these procedures.

    B2 Cases referred directly to the Holy Father

    In very grave cases where a civil criminal trial has found the cleric guilty of sexual abuse of minors or where the evidence is overwhelming, the CDF may choose to take the case directly to the Holy Father with the request that the Pope issue a decree of “ex officio” dismissal from the clerical state. There is no canonical remedy against such a papal decree.

    The CDF also brings to the Holy Father requests by accused priests who, cognizant of their crimes, ask to be dispensed from the obligation of the priesthood and want to return to the lay state. The Holy Father grants these requests for the good of the Church (“pro bono Ecclesiae”).

    B3 Disciplinary Measures

    In cases where the accused priest has admitted to his crimes and has accepted to live a life of prayer and penance, the CDF authorizes the local bishop to issue a decree prohibiting or restricting the public ministry of such a priest. Such decrees are imposed through a penal precept which would entail a canonical penalty for a violation of the conditions of the decree, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state. Administrative recourse to the CDF is possible against such decrees. The decision of the CDF is final.

    C. Revision of MP SST

    For some time the CDF has undertaken a revision of some of the articles of “Motu Proprio Sacramentorum Sanctitatis tutela”, in order to update the said Motu Proprio of 2001 in the light of special faculties granted to the CDF by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The proposed modifications under discussion will not change the above-mentioned procedures (A, B1-B3).

  23. cmm says:

    I can brush off some media reports like barely noticeable mosquito bites. Protestant denominations have their share of cases of sexual abuse, of course. Since I am not Protestant, I don’t really care very much — I’m happy to let the police and civil government deal with that.

    But our church and our bishops have received their teaching authority from Christ via the apostles. They are a beacon of moral clarity. They are here to guide us in discernment when we are confused. We put our trust in them. And… regarding sexual abuse of children, they have failed. A few priests have committed crimes, and many (perhaps most) bishops have covered up those crimes, failed to react with moral integrity, and indirectly caused more abuse. Whether or not they did the right thing according to Canon Law, it remains that they did wrong.

    Pope Benedict, who is more sensitive to those crimes than many, also exhibited that failure to discern what is morally right. When he was archbishop of Munich, he attended a meeting about hosting a priest who had abused children in his diocese. He, at the very least, callously failed to pay attention, and, through what he failed to do, let decisions be taken that, down the road, led to more abuse. Later, while he has at the CDF, he followed rules without exhibiting moral outrage nor disgust nor a wish to urgently remove criminal priests from the priesthood. Yet he did “the best he could”: that’s because that callousness was general in the church.

    It is maddening to see the lack of contrition of our bishops. Do they not see how spectacularly wrong they were? Where is their contrition? I want to see bishops seriously addressing their past. I want each to state what he, in his office, did wrong with respect to the protection of children, with specifics to explicit cases. I do not want to hear excuses (even though there are many mitigating factors): I want to hear their assessment so that I am reassured that we are now on the same wavelength. And I want their contrition to be proved by some actions in penitence. Then I want to see the church think: how can we have gotten it so wrong? How can we have failed so spectacularly in discernment?

    As to the media’s frenzy, it doesn’t matter to me. I care about the facts that are gradually coming to light and that are scrutinized carefully, thanks to Father Z. and others; I don’t care that the media spin them this way or that way. Of course some of them are bent on destroying the good name of the church, but that is of secondary importance. I am first worried about the internal cancer caused by the moral failures of a few priests and of many, many bishops, including to some extent the bishop of Rome. Once we have undergone purification, we can face the outside world and the secular media without fear.

  24. I think this series is a good idea, but I also agree that (in the spirit of not playing into Internet atheists’ hands), every article should end with a set of statistics for coaches, etc. Just to show that this is a problem across the board in society.

    Re: evangelical folks, I think I’ve mentioned before the work being done to document this kind of abuse going on, in a single organization of such churches, by Jeri Massi. In that case, it was children of both sexes, teens, and a lot of adult women. The factors involved were a bit different, and the freedom to abuse seems to have tied in with financial skulduggery and sheer arrogance and totalitarianism. Power gone wild must have whatever it wants, in other words. But the scope, and the number of folks who knew, was pretty amazing.

  25. Andrew says:

    Should we seek to elicit some intelligent response from secular minded individuals? To get them to value holy celibacy and virginity? To be our allies? Hell will freeze over before that happens.
    They are all too happy to find examples of failure among celibates to prove to themselves that celibacy and virginity for the sake of the Kingdom makes no sense. It is unnatural in their opinion. Heck, not even marital fidelity makes sense to them any longer. Fornication and love is one and the same to them.
    The Church needs to purge itself instead. Enough of the post Vat. II hoopla. Get serious. Our religion is an escape from the ultimate disaster called Hell, not a communal celebration. Turn the altars back, discontinue the Extraordinary lay ministers, stop communion in the paw, bring back Latin not only for its liturgical but also for its immense educational value. Stop the dancing, the self congratulatory “enculturation”, the singing of shlagers in our sanctuaries, put back the tabernacle where it belongs, bring back the sacrament of confession, make it extremely uncomfortable or rather unbearable for dishonest christians to function in the Church’s bosom.
    Or is it better to say to the media instead: hey, look, we’re not the only ones who fail?

  26. Lee says:

    “It is maddening to see the lack of contrition of our bishops. Do they not see how spectacularly wrong they were? Where is their contrition?”

    It’s maddening to read this paragraph so like many others appearing in the letter to the editors column of the secular press.

    For the love of God, bring yourself up to speed! Do a search query on “U.S. Bishops apologize”; “The pope apologizes”; “The Irish Bishops apologize”; “The Swiss bishops apologize”; etc. What are you talking about?

    “And I want their contrition to be proved by some actions in penitence. Then I want to see the church think: how can we have gotten it so wrong?”

    Have you got the slighest idea what the pope may have said to the Irish bishops lately, hmmmm?. The Church has been doing everything it can. You want the Church to think, how can we have gotten it so wrong? The Church has been thinking nothing else since 2002!

    With all due respect, your mind is a creation of the secular press. You haven’t got the slightest idea what you are talking about.

  27. Gail F says:

    I was surprised and offended by the ridiculous comments on celibacy from top media people when the scandal “broke” a couple of years ago. The ignorance and prejudice floored me — although I have since come to expect it. These people really seem to think that clerical celibacy causes all sorts of warped behavior, although there is NO evidence for this and plenty of evidence for all sorts of warped behavior from married people! It is a bizarre, unreasonable, gut reaction so off-base that I next expect to hear lurid Victorian tales of nuns walled up in convents.

    Meanwhile, a 2008 report from the US government shows that FOUR FIFTHS of sex abuse cases in American public schools are never reported to the authorities. Friday night, one of the so-called “news magazines” on a major US network showed a story about a minister from a small evangelical church who murdered his wife, terrorized his children, and seduced a number of women from his congregation. But who can anyone blame and who can anyone sue once this guy is in jail? NO ONE. “20/20” also did a piece last week on several dozen male swimming coaches who have been fired or disciplined for filming girls in the locker rooms — but the national federation for the sport says it’s not THEIR problem, it’s up to the individual schools to police their coaches. Where is the public outrage at the sport federation, and the demand that it pay millions of dollars? Oh wait, it doesn’t HAVE millions of dollars.

  28. cmm says:

    Lee, I have mulled at great length over the Pope’s message to the Irish bishops in his letter.
    “Only decisive action carried out with complete honesty and transparency will restore the respect and good will of the Irish people towards the Church to which we have consecrated our lives. This must arise, first and foremost, from your own self-examination, inner purification and spiritual renewal.”

    I am waiting to see signs of self-examination, honesty and transparency.

  29. Bruce says:

    “As we do battle and fight in the contest of faith, God, his angels and Christ himself watch us. How exalted is the glory, how great the joy of engaging in a contest with God presiding, of receiving a crown with Christ as judge.

    Dear brethren, let us arm ourselves with all our might, let us prepare ourselves for the struggle with uncorrupted minds, with a whole faith, and with devoted courage.

    The blessed Apostle teaches us how to arm and prepare ourselves: Put round you the belt of truth; put on the breastplate of righteousness; for shoes wear zeal for the Gospel of peace; take up the shield of faith to extinguish all the burning arrows of the evil one; take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God.

    Let us take this armour and defend ourselves with these spiritual defences from heaven, so that when the evil day comes we may be able to resist the threats of the devil, and fight back against him.
    Let us put on the breastplate of righteousness so that our breasts may be protected and kept safe from the arrows of the enemy. Let our feet be shod in the teaching of the Gospel, and armoured so that when we begin to trample on the serpent and crush it, it will not be able to bite us or trip us up.

    Let us with fortitude bear the shield of faith to protect us by extinguishing all the burning arrows that the enemy may launch against us.

    Let us wear on our head the helmet of the spirit, to defend our ears against the proclamations of death, to defend our eyes against the sight of accursed idols, to defend our foreheads so that God’s sign may be kept intact, and to defend our mouths so that our tongues may proclaim victoriously the name of Christ their Lord.

    And let us arm our right hand with the sword of the spirit so that it may courageously refuse the daily sacrifices, and, remembering the Eucharist, let the hand that took hold of the body of the Lord embrace the Lord himself, and so gain from the Lord the future prize of a heavenly crown.

    Dear brethren, have all this firmly fixed in your hearts. If the day of persecution finds us thinking on these things and meditating upon them, the soldier of Christ, trained by Christ’s commands and instructions, will not tremble at the thought of battle, but will be ready to receive the crown of victory. “

    Contest of Faith-St. Cyprian

  30. lofstrr says:

    The much of the media has an agenda and it is very anti-catholic. It is about time that we start exposing them for that. It is time that we start investigating their reporting, and the conflicts of interest that they hold.

    And the dirty little secret of our society is that women abuse children just as much as men. Women also initiate domestic violence just as much as men. We are all sinners and it doesn’t help to go though life thinking that you are incapable of doing wrong by your very nature.

  31. Dave N. says:

    I think this of course very helpful in defending celibacy, but this information must also be used very carefully. When writers invoke this these type of stories, the argument often quickly devolves into a “see, everyone else is doing it too” or “we’re no worse than anyone else” type of defense of the Church–which is of course not a defense at all. Even my kids know not to use the “buuuut everyone else was doing it” line.

  32. nasman2 says:

    It might suffice to go after the holy grail of secular society, public education. There are enough bodies buried there to shut up MSM for quite a while.


    “And the lack of manly action and leadership on the part of our hierarchy, even now after the revelations,

    uhhh….I’m all ears for what case you are thinking of. The Munich case, the Murphy case, the Kiesel case, none of these establish what their hackish media wants them to establish—disasterous misjudgement or criminal neglect on the part of the Holy Father. In fact in the Murphy case, it is clear that culpability can be assigned to a reform-minded bishop.

    To wit: If you got some facts, let’s hear them. Hold the abstract structural theory bs.”

    ARCHBISHOP REMBERT WEAKLAND IS STILL A BISHOP IN GOOD STANDING AND SO IS CARDINAL LAW. If the pope cannot end communion in the hand, how can we expect him to clean up the Church? [ROFL!] There have been NO CONSEQUENCES for the bishops who have engaged in the cover up (Cardinal Law was NOT asked to step down–If he was, this should have been made public as an act of justice for the victims). I want to see less dicta and more facta. The pope has the power to depose bishops who have done wrong, why doesn’t he use it? The pope HAS shown leadership in removing pedophiles. Beyond mere words, why has he not shown leadership by cleansing the episcopate of those who have treated victims HORRENDOUSLY. Until I see some bishops’ heads rolling, I will not be convinced that the pope is serious about justice for the victims who had their innocence stolen. The scandal we are dealing with now IS a lack of MANLY ACTION AND LEADERSHIP on the part of the Holy Father. He was able to display it with Summorum Pontificum and the Anglican bit. I am waiting and praying for similar action on disciplining his fellow bishops.



  35. Scott W. says:

    I am waiting to see signs of self-examination, honesty and transparency.

    Respectfully, this is little different than saying, “I’m waiting for you to stop being ugly.” [LOL!] It’s begging the question.

  36. Sam Schmitt says:

    “Pope Benedict, who is more sensitive to those crimes than many, also exhibited that failure to discern what is morally right.” etc.

    I would be very careful here, cmm. This judgment is based on media reports, which have been shown to be misleading, incomplete, and generally incompetent.

    Perhaps Pope Benedict sees the situation you describe otherwise. If so, he has no need of apologizing, at least in the way you want him to. But it seems that you are setting yourself up for disappointment in having your own judgment about the matter and then being angry that the pope does not do what you think he should because he does not share that judgment.

  37. cmm says:

    Indeed, the media is very misleading on all sides. I am waiting anxiously for Pope Benedict to speak up.

  38. meherbaba says:

    There simply is not enough accurate information out there. How many priests had accusations made against them before 2002 and were sent by their bishops for therapy and then to a new parish? My impression is that accusers since that time have been reporting what happened to them for the first time. They may be entirely truthful but a bishop cannot be held responsible for what he didn’t know about.

  39. jengladen says:

    Such a true post! Thank you for sharing and I shared the link on Facebook!

  40. cmm, why wait for the Pope to speak up? Look at what has been done already. My Archdiocese put all sorts of things into effect 7 years ago. I was involved with the youth group and had to have a background check and complete a training seminar in order to continue to work with the youth. The training is required for everyone who works with kids, and includes rules of conduct, how to recognize questionable behavior in others, and what to do about it (self-policing, basically).

    7 years ago. Note that the cases being brought forward now as “smoking guns” are from 15+ years ago. So all the people who are saying “why isn’t the Church doing anything?” are ignoring what the Church has done already, and what it continues to do.

  41. stgemma_0411 says:

    I was wondering, in light of Pater Benedictus’s, statements whether it is truly more of a punishment to keep them in the clerical state so that they have to maintain their obligations to saying the divine office, etc..

  42. Lee says:

    PATER BENEDICTUS, you write:


    From “Philosopher King-The Humanist Pope Benedict XIV” by Renee Hayes (London Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1970), 221:

    “He told a group of prelates who pressed him to make ferocious judgements, ‘I like to leave the Vatican lightnings asleep, and you would do well to copy me. The Sovereign Lawgiver, whose vicar I am, never once made fire fall from heaven, and He lived surrounded by heretics and unbelievers.'”

  43. Friends… did anyone read the top entry?

    Did you see why it was posted?

    Talking about swim coaches doesn’t address the arguments Church haters are making about the priesthood.

    Some of you might want to review the top entry.

  44. cmm says:

    why wait for the Pope to speak up? Look at what has been done already. My Archdiocese put all sorts of things into effect 7 years ago.

    Even if the norms are now adequate (which I certainly hope), still, how did our bishops, our leaders vested with moral authority, get it so wrong on the question of sexual abuse of children? There is something frightening about that.

    In addition, when they apologize by saying something vague like: “if I have ever caused someone to feel hurt for any reason, I’m sorry about that”, or like: “In the name of the church, I apologize for all the dreadful hurt caused by those awful, criminal priests”, it’s not convincing. What would be convincing would be a bishop saying something like: “I had received allegations of abuse by Father x, who was in my diocese under my responsibility. If I had taken them seriously, I might have been able to ensure he would not abuse again. I made the wrong decisions, and I am very sorry about it. The way things were, it would have been difficult for me to do otherwise, but still, I wish I could go back in time and do things differently. Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because of the consequences of my lack of discernment.” And a few bishops should then conclude: “I have betrayed your trust in your leadership. Therefore I am offering my resignation to the Holy Father.” That’s the kind of apology that would show that our bishops recognize that they did wrong. It would show their new integrity, and it would make me hopeful.

  45. Jordanes says:

    Oneros said: Priests’ rates of child molestation should therefore not be compared to the population of men as a whole, but rather to other SINGLE men only, when deciding whether their rate is higher than expected.

    Oh, well in that case, our priests come off looking even better. In the county where I live, hardly a week goes by without some guy in his 20s being charged with having sex with a girl about age 13-15 — but we’ve had years go by without a single allegation (let alone actual case) of such molestation against a priest in my entire state. There’s no doubt that single men in our society are MUCH, MUCH, ***MUCH*** more prone to molesting kids than Catholic priests are — which is hardly surprising to anyone who gives these things just a few moments’ thought.

  46. my kidz mom says:

    Thankyou Fr.Z for this ammo! I used it just this morning in answer to my Presbyterian boss, who asked specifically about celibacy as it relates to the scandal. [Thanks for that.]
    You are right, we all DO need to take action. Teaching moments are given to us when we least expect them. Read and re-read Father Z’s postings. And be not afraid, fellow WDTPRSers, to be joyfully Catholic and speak the Truth!

  47. It strikes me that there are three kinds of people who actually pay attention and care about sexual misconduct among Catholics.

    1: Catholics who know that this sort of thing does not belong in God’s Church at all.
    2: People who are not Catholic but deep down God has told them that the Catholic Church is the one true religion and so hold the Catholic Church and her priest to a higher standard of conduct.
    3: People who don’t care about children or victims at all, they just want to have an excuse to murder Catholics. They want to see our blood run through the streets. They just can’t wait to rape nuns and then burn them at the stake and hang priest from the rafters of burned out church buildings. Anyone remember Spain under the Nationalist before Franco?

    If someone is a child molester they won’t want to be a Catholic Priest. Instead they want to be a StepFather, A public School teacher or a traveling Mormon guy with a name tag. In all three of these professions the molester will have access to far more children and will get far more protection when allegations come to light. Indeed we see the percentage of molesters is higher, there are more victims and abuse happens more frequently in these professions than in any other. They abuse even more children than islamic imams do and islam actually teaches that child sexual abuse is ok as long as you "marry" your victim even if the child is just a baby.

    I have knows lots of teachers and lots of priests. I have known at least one priest who had false allegations brought against him. In his case it was a woman claiming rape not a child but still it was sexual misconduct. I have known two teachers who were arrested and later convicted of raping children under 12. One was a woman who had sex with five different boys and the other was a male P.E. teacher who had sex with over a thousand boys. In the woman’s case she was caught and arrested rather quickly. Her case was more recent. Before her was the P.E. teacher. He would rape all the boys at one school and then he would get transfered to another school because the teacher’s union would not allow the Hahnville school board to fire him. I should say again, he raped over a thousand boys and the teacher’s union knew about it and even as he was being sentenced to 10,000 years in prison they were defending him and themselves for refusing to allow him to be fired.

    I often ask people who want to talk about sexual abuse among priest if they can give me the names of either one victim or one molester. They usually can’t, they just say "Catholic Priest" or "Catholic Church" and equate us to a faceless institution. They then ask me to do the same when I attack the teacher’s union. I say Charles Deroche who molested over a thousand kids in Hahnville Louisiana that I went to school with. If they want to know about a victim of the media I say Fr. Roch Naquin, who was an innocent man that the media just decided to brand as guilty just because he was a priest when someone lied about him and just wanted to get some money.

    Eclipse of the Sun

    Fr. Z says they just [HUH? Where on earth did I write "just"? You added that yourself. What did I actually write? Try this: "The people behind the mainstream media (MSM) attacks on the Church have certain goals, short-term and long-term. Among their immediate objectives is…." Okay?]

    want us to change so that we have no celibacy for priest, women priest and gay marriage. I don’t see that. They want to KILL US. They want to chop off our hands and feet and then watch us bleed to death. The day is coming when we will not be able to rely on police or any form of government official to protect our human rights. We will have to have armed guards surround our church buildings just so that we can have Mass. In the end that might not be enough. Just watch for churches to get burned out and bombed one by one. We will have to have Mass in secret. Just remember these people don’t value human life. After all they already murder over 4000 children EVERYDAY. Someone who supports abortion and then screams over sexual abuse has only alligator tears. [I otherwise am pretty much on the same page with your assessment. Eclipse of the Sun comes to mind.]

    But look, America and Western Europe are collapsing right now anyway. The Church will survive and will still be here no matter what takes its place. 

  48. Mrs doyle says:

    I think we need to address this issue from the start and not from the end and work backwards.

    Fact 1.

    Abusers become Priests – not the other way around.
    Abusers also become teachers, health care workers, husbands and fathers.
    They are attracted to these roles because of the easy access to children, to trust and to authority.
    Priests may be more likely to be undetected due to the fact that most run parishes by themselves (unlike the old days where a number lived together with senior clergy and newly ordained “trainee” priests).
    Abusive behaviour is more easily undetected when there are less people around to notice changes in behaviour.
    Think about when all of these criminal acts were supposed to have taken place – they have all occurred after we saw a peak in vocations, when seminaries had little to no stringent entry requirements.

    Fact 2.

    Sexual and psychological issues can be found to have been problems before a man enters the seminary.
    In a lot of cases, you will find that the abuser had themselves been abused as a child (usually within their own families), and we know that there is an increased risk of this abuse continuing.
    Celibacy has absolutely nothing to do with anything.
    The only reason this gets rolled out is by people who define humanity by sexual expression.
    They believe that not expressing ones sexuality is abnormal.

    Fact 3.

    Proponents of married clergy make out that if men were allowed to marry – they would not abuse.
    This shows a willful misunderstanding of what abuse actually is, and is actually insulting to women.
    It presupposes that by a woman marrying a man who has a tendency to abuse (remembering that the tendency is usually present prior to becoming a priest), she somehow ‘cures’ him of wanting to abuse because his sexual appetite is satiated.
    That’s just disgusting.

    Fact 4.

    Proponents of women clergy just miss the point of abuse altogether.
    All they are interested in is pursuing their own narrow agenda by using the suffering of the abused children as ammunition.
    This is equally disgusting and disingenuous.
    Haven’t they head that women are also capable of abuse? As is anyone given the right background and psychological make-up.

    I would also like to see a more balanced media coverage, but not before the abuse itself is actually understood for what it is and what it’s not.

  49. RuariJM says:

    “Anyone remember Spain under the Nationalist before Franco?” – quomodocumque

    No – do fill us in. Please be sure your examples are (a) documented and not hearsay and (b) not erroneously relocated from Mexico in the 1920s and 30s, where the Church was severely persecuted – as reported by Graham Greene in ‘the Lawless Roads’ and dramatised by him in ‘The Power & The Glory.

    With all the inaccurate and unfounded stuff flying around, it would be a shame if those who claim to be defending the Church could be shown to have built their defence on the shifting sands of innuendo, smears and the totally unfounded. Or even the actions of one side blamed on another.

    A gentle correction: the elected government of Spain at the time (the one Falangists overthrew) was the Republican/Popular Front government. Franco’s dictatorshp was often referred to as ‘Nationalist’. Easy to get confused, though, given the number of people ‘disappeared’ and murdered in the immediate aftermath of the Spanish Civil War and the 40 years after. For all its display of devotion, his regime seemed to have overlooked the bit about not killing folk, charity, compassion and other simple instructions.

    (There is a strong argument that the Republican government’s most heinous crime, in the eyes of the Falange and establishment, was land reform. Everything else seemed to pale into insignificance in the light of that ‘dreadful’ proposal.)

    But I digress – although at least I didn’t mention swimming coaches.

  50. mpm says:


    I can’t believe you would not know this, but nevertheless:


    “As of July 2008, almost one-thousand Spanish martyrs have been beatified or canonized. For some two-thousand additional martyrs, the beatification process is underway.”

    “… with a death toll of 13 bishops, 4,172 diocesan priests and seminarians, 2,364 monks and friars and 283 nuns, for a total of 6,832 victims, as part of what is referred to as Spain’s Red Terror.”

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