Monday, April 11

Oy, gevalt!

Oy gevalt, indeed!
Today, Dr. Bill Donahue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, took out a full page ad in the NY Times.  In it, he writes a long and spirited defense of the RC clergy.  There are some...well, issues, that I see in his analysis and defense.

The first is that the only substantive data which he quotes is from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice study on clergy and sex abuse.  If that doesn't ring a bell, it was the study commissioned by the USCCB as part of the Dallas Conference reforms. 
 "[The Jay study] found that most of the abuse occurred during the heyday of the sexual revolution, from the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s. What we are hearing about today are almost all old cases."
Ignoring any sort of possible bias (in that 'studies funded by R.J. Reynolds say that smoking is good for you' sort of way), the dataset covers from 1950-2002.  Given that sexual abuse of children is often reported only decades after the fact (for a variety of psychological reasons), that is no great surprise.  Given the age of the report, it also means that the German, Belgian, Irish, Philadelphia and L.A. reports of systemic abuse (to name a few) don't show up. 
"[Penn State professor Philip] Jenkins wrote that “Out of 100,000 priests active in the U.S. in this half-century, a cadre of just 149 individuals—one priest out of every 750—accounted for over a quarter of all allegations of clergy abuse.” In other words, almost all priests have never had anything to do with sexual molestation.(emphasis his)"
According to his own John Jay study, 4% of american clergy have had charges of sexual abuse filed against them.  That would be 4,000, not 149.  Assuming Jenkins is correct and 149 priests are responsible for 1/4 of the allegations, that means over 2,600 complaints were reported (an average of 18/priest) against them.  That's not a clean slate for priests in the US and certainly damning evidence for those in leadership.
"The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight—they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).... In other words, the issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia."
Trying to split the difference between pedophilia and ephebophilia and aruging that the difference between 3rd base and a home run when it comes to non-consensual sexual contact matters are both legalistic and petulant defenses.  Children under the age of consent cannot, by definition, give consent (thus, statutory rape).  Some jurisdictions in the US include oral sex and non-consensual masturbation as rape (the latter could fall under Dr. Donahue's 'inappropriate touching').  The bottom line is that those under the age of consent are unilaterally off limits and 'no' always, ALWAYS, means NO!

The whole homosexuality angle is a canard as evidenced by a recent study by Duke university which showed that 96% of those who were convicted of sexually abusing boys identified as heterosexual, 2% were either non-straight or weren't sure and 2% were women.  This gets back to the fact that rape (and, by extension, sexual abuse) is about power, not the sex.

I will agree, in the broadest terms, with Dr. Donahue.  The issue isn't pedophilia.  There are two issues; Sexual abuse of minors (which would include, but not be limited to, pedophilia) and the protection of the perpetrators by the RC Church.  Every day the Church delays, demurs and distracts, the moral credibility of the Church is diminished, the name of those honest, upright priests are defamed and lives of children abused present and past are destroyed.

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