It never ends

Ever since the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report was released last year detailing 300 accused Catholic priests across six dioceses and 1,000 victim-survivors (which I wrote about here), and the Vatican’s ignoring of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child which demanded the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church take demonstrable, verifiable steps to remedy decades of institutional complicity and cover-up of widespread sexual abuse of children committed by its priests (which I wrote about here) something has been bothering me.

The never-ending stream of revelations, post-Dallas.

In 2002, embarrassed by the revelations coming out of Boston, the bishops, archbishops, and cardinals of America’s 145 Roman Catholic dioceses, 32 Roman Catholic archdioceses, 15 Eastern Catholic dioceses, 2 Eastern Catholic archdioceses, 1 archdiocese for the military services and diplomatic corps of the United States, and 1 personal ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter (a place to put married Anglican priests when they convert) got together in Dallas Texas and drafted The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (referred to as “The Dallas Charter”), revised in June of 2018 (you can read it by clicking here).

The Dallas Charter’s six key resolutions are (emphasis mine):

  1. Creating a safe environment for children and young people.
  2. Healing and reconciliation of victims and survivors.
  3. Making prompt and effective response to allegations.
  4. Cooperating with civil authorities.
  5. Disciplining offenders.
  6. Providing for means of accountability for the future to ensure the problem continues to be effectively dealt with through the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection and the National Review Board.

The crocodile tears cried by the Men in Black in Dallas, the toothless “Dallas Charter,” and the years of revelation after revelation since (in America and around the world) have made one thing clear — the Roman Catholic Church has absolutely no intention of addressing this pernicious problem in its ranks and is, in fact, a criminal enterprise.  Last week, it was Bishop Malone in the Diocese of Buffalo; these were not historical abuses pre-dating the Dallas Charter and Boston — Buffalo happened this year and even last month!

Then yesterday, Missouri’s attorney general Eric Schmitt announced that he’s referring 12 priests’ names for CRIMINAL prosecution from the list of 163 priests accused of wrongdoing.  Half of them have died since committing their crimes, while others have escaped prosecution because their bishops and superiors allowed them to wait out the statute of limitations.  Another 16 on top of that were already referred to local prosecutors.  All told, Missouri may be going after more priests than any other state in the country… so far.  Good.

priest behind bars

In total, the investigation uncovered 163 priests or clergy members accused of sexual abuse or misconduct against minors. Of those 163 priests, 83 of the accused are deceased. Of the remaining 80, in 46 of those cases, prosecution was barred by the Missouri law regarding the statute of limitations. One case is still under open investigation by the Church. 16 cases have been previously referred for local prosecution and five cases have been or are currently being investigated by prosecutors, leaving the 12 potential cases that the Missouri Attorney General’s Office will be referring.

Mr. Schmitt hasn’t gone far enough.  He may be prosecuting predator priests, but he has not yet gone after the Church leaders who knew about their crimes and did nothing, despite the Dallas Charter’s assurances that this problem was being addressed.

The problem persists because the leadership of this Church allows it to, covers it up, and continues to take your money every Sunday (thoughtful readers who are Catholic) to finance its criminal enterprise.  Criminal priests (and the bishops covering for them) belong behind bars.

But there is something far more insidious and evil going on when defenders of the Church, including many bishops and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, reductively try to blame the ongoing crisis of clergy sexual abuse on "gays in the priesthood."  Want the easiest way to silence and shame a male (straight or gay) victim of sexual abuse and sanitize the crime?  Call the crime “gay sex.”  Make the victim question whether the abuse was an actual crime at all.

Apologists for and in the Church like to abdicate its responsibility and minimize its culpability by saying the only real victims of “pedophilia” are children victimized before they have reached puberty.  The Church’s defenders say that is different from victims of “ephebophilia” — those abused after puberty but before adulthood — which they blame on homosexuality and gay priests having gay sex with underage pubescent boys.  Bar gay men from the priesthood, the argument goes, and the problem of clergy sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church will go away.

This line of thinking accomplishes two of the Church’s most despicable goals:  it is able to (1) distance itself from its manifest moral turpitude and criminal liability by characterizing the abuse perpetrated by priests as gay sex, relying on Western society’s growing acceptance of homosexuality to soften the blow to the priesthood, and (2) continue to demonize and denigrate homosexuals by linking them to this universally taboo perversion of sex with children.  It is masterful, if not utterly depraved and reprehensible, how the Church appeals to contemporary mores to downplay the evil it is unleashing on the world in the first sense while simultaneously promoting prejudice against homosexuals by linking them to sexual abuse of children in the second sense, spreading fear and hatred of the homosexual as the archetypal child molester.

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