2002 Deja Vu

June 2010

Here we go again.

It's been eight years since reporters at the Boston Globe broke the seal on the clerical sex-abuse scandal in the U.S. Church. From early 2002 onward, not a day went by without new reports of priests abusing boys, bishops shuffling predators from parish to parish, and dioceses covering up the crimes of its clerics. Priests were de­frocked. Bishops were brought before grand juries. A few resigned in disgrace. Others, like Archbishop Rembert Weakland, were caught in their own personal sexual scandals in addition to aiding and abetting others'.

Many have wondered in recent years if this sordid affair is a uniquely American problem. This year we got our answer — and that answer comes in the form of an unequivocal "No!" The Catholic Church suffers from more or less the same ills the world over, and is now being hammered by the second major wave of bombshell revelations.

This renewed escalation in the scandal buffeting the Church began late last year in Ireland after the release of the 2,600-page "Ryan Report," which presented the findings of a nine-year government-led investigation. The upshot: Sexual molestation of children was "endemic" in Irish Catholic-run reform schools and orphanages. The "Murphy Report" followed a few months later, reporting on clerical sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Dublin. The Vatican has already accepted the resignations of three Irish bishops implicated in the "Murphy Report" for covering up the crimes of priest abusers. At least two more have tendered resignations to the Vatican and are expected to step down later this year. Sean Cardinal Brady, ostensible leader of the Church in Ireland, has come under heavy pressure to resign for his role in compelling abuse victims to sign secrecy agreements. He has said he will not step down.

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New Oxford Notes: June 2010

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It would have been very easy to write the above, but I expect from NOR journalists a much more nuanced reading of what is sensationalised in the Press. Do you have a policy to follow the London Tablet toward 'tabloid journalism'? The media have targeted the church almost exclusively re cases from many years ago, and given the impression that it is endemic in the Church worldwide now. There have been very few contemporary cases of clergy child abuse in the U.S.A. in the past 10 years and none in Australia. We have had a very strict policy in place for a decade that I consider unjust to priests who are accused. The Ryan Report suggested the problem was 'endemic'. It reported 250 cases out of 25,000 children in Church institutions over 70 years. Not all of the cases involved serious sexual abuse, many involved the sort of corporal punishment I received in Government Schools as a child. You mentioned a few bishops who have been accused or resigned for handling cases badly. A few out of the thousands of Bishops who have ministered world wide in the last half a century. It is just that I am sick to death of the false impression the media is giving by its very selective reporting. I expect more balance and not more of the same from the Catholic Press. According to Government statistics, the number of cases of abuse by clergy is smaller than in other professions, and minuscule compared with abuse in families. Will anyone have the courage to address this? Sex abuse of children in the Catholic Church - the cases involving clergy are 'the tip of the iceberg'.

Posted by: ronankangaroo
July 14, 2010 12:11 AM EDT
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