The Apple Of God's Eye

October 7, 2009

Catholic Sex Abuse: A Fraternity Of Sin, A Brotherhood Of Shame

1At this point, any stories about Catholic priests and sex abuses probably cause an immediately disconnect with readers because of the sheer volume of news stories that have been published. This is especially so since 2003’s landmark settlement against the Boston Archdiocese.

It’s interesting also how every time a sex scandal comes up, two varying points of opinion rear their head: those who say the Catholic church is rife with sexual scandal and those who say it is no worse there than any other sector of society.

Recently, news broke about Bishop Raymond Lahey and another sex scandal. Lahey, the 69-year-old bishop for the Antigonish diocese, is charged with the possession and importation of child pornography.

Yes, this is the same Bishop Raymond Lahey that negotiated a $15-million out-of-court settlement for sex abuse victims in his Antigonish diocese.

Now it is found that a Catholic priest said he warned an archbishop about allegations Raymond Lahey had shown pornography to a young man in the 1980s.

“Father Kevin Molloy says he was told of the allegations by Shane Earle, then 16, in Portugal Cove, N.L. in 1989.

“I never had any further details except the boys saw pornographic material in Father Lahey’s house,” Molloy told CTV News in Florida, where he now lives. “That’s the only thing I had to go on.”

Molloy said he soon brought up the allegations with then-Archbishop Alphonsus Penney, and assumed the Church would deal with the matter. He never heard about it again. “What we’re dealing with today gives every indication that nothing happened, nobody followed up,” he told the Globe and Mail. “I don’t know if it was that nobody believed me at the time, but here we are 20-odd years later dealing with the same issues.” (CTV News, 2009)

Archbishop Anthony Mancini, who was appointed apostolic administrator of the Antigonish diocese after Lahey’s resignation, said there’s no simple solution to preventing priests from sinning.

Here’s an incredible quote from him that makes the head spin:

‘So is it gonna happen again? Yeah, of course it’s gonna happen again … all we can do is try to prevent and try to make sure that we put up all the safeguards that we can possibly put up.’—Archbishop Anthony Mancini

“You think, and many people think, that all we got to do is throw more money at it, throw more structure at it, throw more psychiatrists at it, and at the end of it all, we’re going to come up with this wonderful, perfect structure. And you know what? That’s never going to happen.”

Then, he simply asked the parishioners to pray for Lahey and not to lose faith, asking them to get together and share what they have in their hearts.” THAT is a statement relying on human faith, rather than the faith of God. This man does not understand that God says what is in our hearts (minds) is evil (Jer. 17:9). Where is a plea for God’s help in such a statement?

Now, isolated cases, though frustrating, can happen, but it is not so with the Catholic church. Over several decades in the 20th century, priests and lay members of religious orders had sexually abused minors on a scale such that the accusations eventually reached into the thousands. This happened not just in the US, but also in Ireland, Canada, Italy and Australia.

A major aggravating factor was the actions of Catholic bishops in responding to allegations of clerical abuse. It was revealed that some bishops had facilitated compensation payments to victims on condition that the allegations remain secret. In addition, rather than being dismissed, the accused were often instructed to undergo psychological counseling and, on completion of counseling, reassigned to other parishes where, in some cases, they continued to abuse minors.

Supposedly both ecclesiastical and civil authorities had implemented procedures to prevent sexual abuse of minors by clergy and to report and punish it if and when it occurs. But when listening to Archbishop Anthony Mancini, nothing more can be done. The question is, has enough been done?

Church should be above conduct of society

While any sex abuse is atrocious, inside or outside a church, it is particularly heinous with a member of the clergy supposedly representing God. There is a huge measure od respect and trust with the public who believe these men represent God. ANY church suffering from such an outbreak, and then merely defending it by saying it is no worse than society fails to understand that it lacks the Holy Spirit of God.

In June 2002 the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops met in Dallas and approved the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The Charter created a National Review Board, which was assigned responsibility to commission a descriptive study, with the full cooperation of the dioceses/eparchies, of the nature and scope of the problem of sexual abuse of minors by clergy.The National Review Board engaged the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to conduct a study analyzing allegations of sexual abuse in Catholic dioceses in United States.

The John Jay report indicated that some 11,000 allegations had been made against 4,392 priests in the USA. This number constituted approximately 4% of the 110,000 priests who had served during the period covered by the survey (1950-2002). The report found that, over the 52-year period covered by the study, “the problem was indeed widespread and affected more than 95 percent of the dioceses and approximately 60 percent of religious communities” (1) A Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the United States” National Review Board. February 27, 2004. (2) “John Jay Study Reveals Extent of Abuse Problem)

“Catholic authorities have constantly railed against abortion rights, against same-sex marriage, birth control, stem cell research and fertility treatments. They cite the word of God as their authority. By definition, anyone who disagrees with them is not only wrong, but immoral and a sinner. Yet there is strong evidence that those same clerical authorities were aware of abuse allegations against priests and clerics. Rather than cleaning up the mess, they covered it up. That meant many offenders were moved around and protected by senior Church authorities, often to repeat their abuses in other parishes. That the Church evidently knew that and did so little to stop it suggests hypocrisy on a global scale. (ChronicleHerald.ca).

On July 19, 2008,  Pope Benedict XVI made a full apology for child sex abuse by priests and clergymen in Australia, in front of  3,400 people. He called for compensation and demanded punishment for those guilty of the “evil”:

“Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering. … Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people.”

Notice that here is the highest authority of the Catholic church, and in this serious apology, made not ONE mention of the name of God or His power, but rather said the evil should be brought to justice, implying the justice of man rather than God.

Philip Jenkins, Professor of Humanities at Pennsylvania State University asserts that his “research of cases over the past 20 years indicates no evidence whatever that Catholic or other celibate clergy are any more likely to be involved in misconduct or abuse than clergy of any other denomination—or indeed, than non-clergy.

However, this study clearly misses an important point, namely that if the Catholic church supposedly is the true church of God, it should have a dramatically lower level of crime than the outside world. Why? BECAUSE of the indwelling presence of the Spirit of God. Merely stating that statistics are about the same inside the church and outside of it clearly proves that God does NOT reside in that church. Yes, all men sin, but with Christ leading His Church, that type of conduct with God’s ministry should be almost non-existant, rather than rampant. Paul describes their conduct this way:

Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God….by pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, by the word of truth…(II Cor. 6:3-7).

In the Catholic Church, priests and bishops are the ultimate authority figures, their word and deeds held in utmost respect. To doubt the priest is to doubt the holy Church and the authority of God.

In the wake of these latest allegations, what’s left of that power? What authority has any priest in that church to preach about morality or ethics when the brotherhood that goes back 2,000 years has now been cast as a fraternity of sin and a brotherhood of shame?

Blog at WordPress.com.