The Ugly Game of Spinning Sexual Abuse
I found a terrific editorial in the National Catholic Review, here. I’m quoting the article in full in the extended entry (click below). Just in case they ask me to take it down, here’s the basic story. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights is trying to convince the world (most recently through the use of an ad in the New York Times) that the clergy sex abuse is all backwards: it was those gay boys seducing and abusing the gay priests. In fact, according to the group’s president William A. Donohue, “Too many sexually active gays have been in the priesthood, and it’s about time they were routed out.”
The editorial here says:
The advertisement, citing data from a recent report commissioned by the U.S. bishops, notes that “81 percent of the victims were male, and most were not little kids—they were post-pubescent (the identical figure was reported in cases found between 1950-2002).”
Here’s the problem with the Catholic League’s analysis: It’s simply not true.
The editorial is really worth reading in full… but here are two more of my favorite incisive points:
The U.S. bishops play into this sociological-psychosexual mumbo jumbo. The department they established to deal with priest abusers is officially titled the “Office of Child and Youth Protection.” Child and youth. As if a 14-year-old, an eighth or ninth grader, is no longer a child. Amazing.
There’s more spin in the League’s ad in the Times. It claims that “it is estimated that the rate of sexual abuse of public school students is more than 100 times the abuse by priests.” The passive construction of that sentence is telling. In fact, there’s scant evidence and no reliable studies that indicate any such thing.
They conclude with a paragraph I absolutely agree with:
There is no need to overstate the case. There has been enough damage and enough heartache in this scandal to make repentance and reconciliation a major work of the church for a long time to come. No quick getaway exists. At the same time, it is absurd to try to minimize what has gone on or to attempt to refashion the scandal into something it isn’t.