Is It Really About the Children? Taking Concern about the Sexual Abuse of Minors to the Next Level

In recent years, the Catholic Church has come under great scrutiny in terms of the sexual abuse of minors. Painful though it has been, it has been salutary in many ways. That such abuse has occurred, even once, let alone with the frequency we have all discovered, is both tragic and scandalous. That the Church has been scrutinized, and called to account by many, has meant that an increasingly serious and comprehensive set of protective measures has been put in place to root out the sexual abuse of minors. This both helps to protect the young and purify the Church.

Consider the graph to the upper right and we shall see that the reports of this sinful and abusive behavior came rather suddenly on the scene in large numbers about 1960, and peaked in the early 1980s. I recall that, about that time (1985), in this Archdiocese we were rocked with some allegations that brought some very painful sins to light. Cardinal Hickey however, began a very through investigation of the problem, and was one of the bishops at that time who undertook a rather sweeping plan to ensure that young people were protected from this in the future. As a seminarian during those years I was expected to attend seminars that alerted us to the problem and we were all given extensive psychological testing and background checks to ensure we were free of any past sins and offenses in this matter, and free of any tendencies toward them.

As you can see by the graph above right, the number of reported incidents drops precipitously after the mid 1980s. While it is true that in 2002 the issue heated up in the news, the incidents that came to light at that time were largely from 20 to 30 years prior. The real anger at that time had more to do with the failure to discipline and remove abuser priests, a failure that had, or was still occurring, in certain dioceses. But in terms of actual incidences, you can see that the number has come dramatically down to its current level. Though not zero, which is the only acceptable number, we do see a remarkable drop. The graph at the left indicates a dramatic drop in the number of abuse cases by priests ordained after 1985. This too demonstrates that, by that time, most dioceses were very careful to do background checks and perform psychological testing that prevented abusers from entering the priesthood.

Hence, the painful period where sin in the Church has been laid bare has had the salutary effect of purifying the Church and, even more importantly, seeing that children are adequately protected from abuse.

So where do we go from here? How serious are we, as a society and a Country, about making sure that children everywhere are protected from sexual abuse? For if our concerns are really about the children, then we must come to see that the Catholic Church is not the only place children have sexually abused. And we must come to see that some non-church settings, children are still being abused in large numbers.

One of the most dangerous places for our children in terms of sexual abuse are the public schools. Consider clicking on this Google news search for stories about arrests for sexual abuse of minors allegations in the last month. You will see page after page of news items about teachers being arrested for sexually molesting the young people under their care. The search “teacher, student, sex, arrest” yields over 550 news reports (30+ Google pages). (Hat tip to Mark Gray for this Google information)

Note two observations of the media coverage of this. First, the stories are being covered. Hence it would be wrong to say the media is “ignoring” the story. Secondly, however, there seems to be no connecting of these stories. They are all considered to be individual cases, unconnected if you will. These stories tend to be framed as an individual teacher who is just “a bad apple.”

And this failure to connect these individual cases and see them as linked to an overall problem that must be addressed, endangers children.

When the abuse cases in the Church arose, they were seen collectively and it was proposed (rightly to some extent) that there was a problem in the Catholic Church, that something linked all these cases together in the wider culture of the Church. Some (incorrectly) blamed celibacy, others the culture of clerical exoneration, still others to the lack of oversight and discipline by the bishops, and “cover-ups.”

Problem in the Public Schools? But in considering these (very) numerous cases in the public school system, few in the media or elsewhere seem to be willing to propose that there is a problem in the public schools, that there is something that links these cases together. What exactly that problem is, is currently debatable. But the point is, who is demanding investigations? Who is demanding a systematic analysis of the public school system or insisting that further measures be instituted to protect children? Who is looking into the kinds of background checks that the schools perform before they hire teachers? Are there psychological tests to weed out potential abusers? Are there seminars for the teachers to help them recognize the signs of potential abuse taking place on their campuses? Are students taught about their rights and what to do in bad situations? Is there a climate of openness and concern that encourages students to report situations which make them feel uncomfortable, or when they feel they are receiving unwanted attention from a teacher or staff member? What are the procedures for dealing with credible allegations? Are public school systems properly vigilant in protecting children from predators?

Who is asking these questions and probing the “wider context” of the school systems in this country? Are we doing enough to protect our children? Apparently not. Look again at the Google link listed above. We are not dealing with a small problem here, it is widespread, and sadly, common.

Are we willing to take this issue of the sexual abuse of minors to the next level?

And while we are at it, are we willing to address the sexualization of children that takes place in our culture especially in ads, on sitcoms, in movies and music? Why do we tolerate TV shows that depict sexually active teenagers? Why is it so difficult for mothers to buy modest clothes for their daughters at most stores? Why do companies like  Abercrombie and Fitch which advertise padded bras and swim tops for 8 year olds, and sell thongs to preteen girls, continue to make money? In short, why are we as a culture not more outraged at the sexualization of children and young teenagers? Sexualizing children and teens does not help protect them from predators who are already confused. If we are serious about protecting the young from sexual abuse, then we ought to stop having such a high tolerance for this sort of thing in our culture. We have discussed this previously on the blog HERE.

I realize that some who read this post will want to read it simply as a priest deflecting attention from the Church. I can and will deny this allegation and have stated clearly that I think the Church has received rebuke, properly. But frankly dear reader, my motivations in raising this are beside the point. The questions I raise remain valid, if we are going to be serious about protecting children. Is our concern really about children and, if so, are we collectively willing to take our concern about the sexual abuse of minors to the next level?

I am interested in your responses and observations.

43 Replies to “Is It Really About the Children? Taking Concern about the Sexual Abuse of Minors to the Next Level”

  1. Is it really about the children?

    No. Of course not. It is about obsessing about past wrongs. It is about stewing in anger. It is about reveling in resentment. It is about hypocritical judging of others. It is about presuming guilt and engaging in conspiracy theories. It is about extorting cash money. It is about bowing down to ambulance chasing lawyers. It is about legitimate victims refusing to let go. It is about perpetuating grievances. It is about ignoring practically everything that Jesus says and the Church teaches concerning sin and redemption, forgiving sins, reconciliation, bearing wrongs patiently, presuming the best of others rather than the worst, and yes, even loving your enemies.

    Jesus died on the Cross for sinners — even those “moral monsters” who sexually abused children.

    I know no one wants to hear it — and certainly many in the Church are too intimidated to say it, even though the Church is supposedly in the forgiveness business — but there comes a time when we, including the victims, are morally obligated to forgive, to reconcile, to let go, and to move on. There comes a time when we have an obligation to stop saying “no” to the Lord and do what He has asked — to love our enemy, to love even the abuser and forgive. There comes a time when this obsessive anger and compulsive need to harbor grievances must end.

    It is time to accept the Cross as payment.

    1. Yes, I think there is truth in what you say overall, Bender, but it is hard for the perpetrator, in this case the Church that overlooked the matter, to demand that grievances end. But I am glad that some, such as yourself are there to remind us all of the Gospel mandates forgiveness. And this mandate exists at every level, families, person to person, group to group etc. The Lord surely does offer us the grace to let go of our hurts and to experience the power to forgive. I know that in my own life I have surely received this gift and I realize what a gift it is, for by my own flesh I have wanted revenge. But only God’s mercy took this from my heart.

      1. it is hard for the perpetrator, in this case the Church that overlooked the matter, to demand that grievances end

        If one really wants a victim of any wrongdoing to heal, then that healing can come about ONLY through forgiveness. We do no favors to the victims to let them stew in their grievances.

        If there are some in the Church who, because of their own culpability, are hesitant to proclaim this truth of forgiveness, which is not only morally obligatory, but is also obligatory as a practical matter for those who wish for the pain to end, then those who had nothing to do with the abuse or any misguided “cover-up” must remind our wounded brothers and sisters of this tough love.

        By allowing the victims to harbor their grievances, to hang onto their resentments and desire for vengence, and by allowing them to continue to refuse to forgive — and by allowing other non-victims to fraudulently claim to be victims and wrongly accuse and defame priests and bishops and others — we are putting the souls of those people at risk. Victimhood per se does not get one into heaven. A victim forgiving the wrongdoer does.

        It is past time to end this self-immolation for past wrongs. To continue to self-immolate only encourages contempt for the Church and her teachings of redemption — we even see it here, with someone raising perceived grievances from the Fourth Century! Come on, 1600 years of rage is enough, don’t you think??

        Take all reasonable steps to protect people in the future, but forgive the past.

        1. By the way, we are ALL victims of some kind of wrongdoing at some point in our lives. None of us are immune. Given the presence of sin in this world, we will all be injured, sometimes quite seriously and horrifically, by the actions of others. But we cannot allow that injury to become a cancer that destroys us. We cannot allow the actions of the wrongdoer to become an occasion for us doing something even worse to ourselves — destroying our souls.

          The “moral monsters” who committed sexual abuse (and the quotation marks are necessary because they are not monsters, they too are children of God), might be able to destroy one’s mental-emotional stability, they might be able to destroy one’s psyche, they might even cause physical harm, but they cannot destroy a victim’s soul. The sexual abusers might cause a victim to experience hell on earth, but only the victim can cause himself to spend eternity in Hell by refusing to forgive.

          If a victim wants real revenge against the abuser, then he will refuse to allow the actions of the abuser to destroy his soul, he will not give the abuser that “power” over him.

          Choose healing. Choose life. As painful as it is — Jesus did it while suffering horribly on the Cross — you must forgive those who harmed you, whether that harm was sexual abuse by someone in the Church, or murder of a loved one, or other crime against you, or 3000 of your countrymen being killed in a single day in a terrorist attack. We are all victims of some wrong. We must all forgive.

          1. Bender,
            I agree that personal healing requires forgiving, but a good model for this might be the sacrament of Reconciliation. Absolution requires contrition, confession, and penance. Where there is no apparent contrition or penance, there cannot be sacramental forgiveness granted. Yes, some bishops have put policies in place which may increase oversight, but some bishops have exempted themselves from this. The recent media storms in Philadelphia and Kansas City suggests that even in dioceses where a policy of protection was supposedly adopted it may not have been followed. There also seems not to have been a good “confession” of the actual sins which occurred–in fact there have been plenty of examples of avoiding admissions of guilt. Real reconciliation requires the restoration of a relationship, which is a two way street. Without an honest admission of sin, a firm committment to change, and an effort to make up for the wrongs done (insofar as one is able) there won’t be absolution in a confessional. Some people still experience their relationaship with the Church as “broken”, and that relationship need to be fixed from two directions. I think the Bishops have a lot of work ahead of them, along with the victims.

  2. If you are going to address the abuse situation in the schools, you might also add the sexual abuse in the home.

    People these days are bombarded by sexual images everywhere – whether ads in newspapers and magazines or TV and movies, the internet, etc. The message is loud and clear – sex sells – but how utterly sad when it is directed to our children – and they buy into it – with the approval of their parents.

    Modesty seems to be a forgotten virtue. It seems strange to me that the culture makes such a big “to-do” about encouraging “self’-esteem” – at the same time, encouraging clothes that are the antithesis of self-respect. It is heartbreaking to see how people demean themselves by wearing provocative outfits designed to draw attention to their bodies.

    Unfortunately, sometimes that attention acts as a trigger for abuse – within families, schools, etc. Why can’t some people understand that there can be a “cause and effect” aspect to their displaying themselves in an inappropriate manner?

    I think that newspapers, like the New York Times, should recognize their responsibility for reporting that sexual abuse is widespread and that it is time to look at the underlying causes – such as the sexualization of people in general – but even worse, the sexualization of small children. That is a crime in itself.

    If nothing else, the idea of modesty can be woven into homilies – starting with dress in church. Recently I was at Sunday Mass in Florida and sat behind a mother with three young girls, maybe 6-9 years old. All of them had on short, short shorts – with phrases appliqued on each of the bottoms that drew attention to that body part. It was embarrassing and uncomfortable for everyone seated behind these girls.

    And, by the way, I agree with Bender that we need to let go of the anger and harboring of grievances relative to the sexual abuse by a small percent of the clergy. It is time to move on. And, it is time to have other venues of such abuse to be investigated on a broader basis – and how to bring back a sense of true self-respect in terms of dress and behavior.

    1. You have made a number of good points here. Sexual abuse seems to be more of a problem in homes today than ever due especially to the phenomenon of “blended families” Step fathers and step brothers do not have the same protective instincts and disinclination for sexual contact with females in the family to whom they are only legally related. So more sexual abuse happens in those settings.

      You have also commented well on the overall hyper-sexualization of our culture.

  3. Amen to Bender’s response.

    We all love to quote Micah 6:8 and give great emphasis to “doing justice,” a little less emphasis on “loving mercy,” and then quietly drop off at the words “walk humbly with thy God.”

  4. I agree that any organization whose staff/volunteers have regular contact with children must reexamine their hiring, training and incident-reporting practices whenever abuse occurs. It is a disservice to all when a perpetrator is blithely written off as a bad apple without assessing whether the abuse could have been prevented or brought to light earlier.

    That being said, it concerns me that the desire to protect children comes at the expense of justice, as illustrated by the following story recently published in the Washington Post:

    With any other alleged crime, the burden falls on the state to prove guilt. When it comes to allegations of sexual abuse, it appears that the burden now is on the accused to prove his innocence. Even if one is cleared by a jury, as in Mr. Lanigan’s case, he still is left to repair the damage to his reputation…something he may never be able to do.

    My spouse is a teacher. He goes to great lengths to avoid situations that could cause him to be vulnerable to allegations of misconduct. He will not, ever, be alone with an unrelated minor, not even our friends’ children or our daughter’s friends. [When we used a babysitter who needed transportation, _I_ fetched her and _I_ took her home.] My husband will not permit fewer than three students to be in his classroom. He avoids physical contact – just about the only time he will touch a student is to shake his/her hand onstage while handing the child an award. My husband has excellent rapport with his students despite the need to keep them at arm’s length, and he doesn’t fear to correct any inappropriate behavior or to impose consequences. He also is fortunate to work at a school whose administration is supportive of its staff. Nonetheless my husband is not immune from being presumed guilty until proven innocent, and seeing stories such as Mr. Lanigan’s causes some sleepless nights.

  5. Msgr. Pope, remember the cartoon images of a little Guardian Angel sitting on someone’s right shoulder, whispering into their ear while a little devil is sitting on their left shouldering, doing likewise? It’s not far from reality, is it? And the members of the news media must be favorite targets of these little devils, as they so often seem to succumb to evil suggestions – especially the ones that involve attacking the Church and the priesthood. Satan knows whom to target. How likely is it that the public school system, or one of its teachers, is going to lead someone to Christ? And I do feel that the biggest culprits on the sexualization of our children are the parents. I don’t buy into the nonsense that the mothers are forced to buy sexy clothes for their daughters because that’s all that is available. First off, does anyone consider that it’s mainly clothing for little girls, and not little boys, that falls into this category? It’s plain to see that girls are being targeted by the clothing industry. I have a niece who trained in one of the top fashion schools in Europe and I have learned through her that the fashion industry is, for the most part, run by gays (as in in-your-face gay). Do you THINK there’s a connection between the two? Secondly, mothers can indeed find appropriate clothing for their daughters, if they so choose. Land’s End carries affordable, durable, fashionable, modest clothing. There are other sources, too. If mothers wanted their daughters to dress like innocent children, they would dress them that way. Yes, there’s a lot of guilt to go around on the issue of sexualizing little girls, but the bulk of it lies with the parents (let’s throw grandparents in with them. Remember your grandparents? Didn’t you respect what they told you?) And it’s likely that a child who never gets a chance to be a child, but is instead pushed into the adult world of sexuality, never matures properly in other areas of their personality. The overwhelming, complicated emotions involved in this preoccupation with sex crowd out the other aspects of a well-rounded character. And so, in a few short years, the sexualized child reaches adulthood, totally unprepared for it; sexually mature, but immature in other areas. And that immaturity may be what is drawing so many female teachers to young boys as their sex partners. These teachers are usually in their 20’s or 30’s; when they were still little girls, they were being subjected to a media (and a society) that was obsessed with sex. They are the end result. As long as parents allow others to dictate their children’s moral values, the problem will not only continue, it will get worse. Holy Family, pray for us.

    1. I do remain flabbergasted at what parents allow. It is not only immodesty, but youngsters with tattoos, strange piercings and the like. What on earth are some parents thinking. You are also right, I think is your explanation of why so many female teachers are now going for the underage boys.

  6. I don’t believe you were one of the victims, so you might tone down the rhetoric a wee bit. The misbehaviour of our priests and bishops have condemned thousands to a lifetime of psychological and emotional turmoil. (Or in your professional opinion, should they be able to just “suck it up?) While not a direct victim myself, I will nonetheless reply to your comments as a Catholic in the pew struggling with this issue. The cold calculating behavior of the bishops who deprived Catholic families any help or recourse, and shifted these moral monsters ( I don’t find the quotation marks necessaary, for this they are) around to expose more children and families to their abuse, is the real issue. I see only excuses and self-justification. If truly repentant, why haven’t they resigned? Are there any Bishops in this country who are irreplacable, or is their decision to cling to power rooted in their own self-interest. I can forgive all involved, of course evidence of their sincere repentance would help facilitate this, but as a father I would be remiss in trusting my children around anyone who has shown such cold indifference to their well-being. Judging by the drop off in Church attendance, I would assume that many agree with me. If I have missed something important, i pray that you will counsel me with charity,

    1. OK, but I’m also not one of the abusers nor am I a bishop. All your points are granted, even though some of them are broad brush (e.g., not every bishop was “cold and calculating). How about the questions I raised and what is the next step to protecting children? What do you think about the public school situation and the sexualization of children in popular culture?

      1. I apologize Fr., my response was to Bender’s initial remarks. But I will respond to your questions. I raised 3 children in the Church. Clearly the popular culture, youth and us older folks, are being increasingly “sexualized” every day. Any of us who’ve been around for more then 5 decades have seen the dramatic increase in immodesty, but even worse, the identification of the human person with our sex drive. How did my children get past it? My only answer is being grounded in Christ. (No I didn’t do it with forcing certain types of dress on them, endless rosaries…, but by sincerely trying to do God’s will in my own life and by fostering Godly values in them.) My daughter took dance lessons and performed since she was 6 or7, and I was often appalled by 8 year old glamor queens, with the Godly women she knew, she never bought into it that side of performance. Despite growing up in the NYC area, all three of my children were indifferent to the Disney/MTV culture.
        As far as comparing the Church to the public school system, I think this is very dangerous. We are told by Christ to hold ourselves to an impossibly high standard. The fact that any sex abuse was concealed by responsible adults, let alone those with the audacity to call themselves representatives of Christ on earth, is incomprehensible. The Great Commandment is too simple a thing for there to be any ambiguity. And based on my own experience, the local public schools have done as good or better a job handling accusations of sex-abuse as the local Catholic schools.
        I am not promoting witch hunts, or burning sex-offenders at the stake, but dismissing the gravity of these sins against the innocent is an abomination. The offenders themselves were controlled by forces they couldn’t or wouldn’t control, but the bishops who shuffled these priests around, or that haven’t held those bishops accountable who did, have squandered what moral authority they had left for the majority of Catholics. At 60 years old, I don’t remember a time when there wasn’t skepticism among the laity, but today among many of my Catholic co-workers and neighbors I find open cynicism. They don’t expect moral authority from the hierarchy any longer, and unfortunately in most cases not even from Scripture or the teachings of the Fathers. I experience these as dark times in the Church, cynics on one side, opportunists and cult followers on the other, and occasionally holiness. (If it weren’t for the presence of saints in my life, I would have gone insane or left the Catholic Church long ago)
        I’m sure that you and everyone who reads and posts here wants what is best for the Church, and so do I. We are all being ill-served by things the way they are. I don’t think billboards, lawn signs or TV ads have born much fruit. Maybe sack cloth and ashes will.

        1. I am not comparing the Church to the public school system. I am pointing out that Children are being sexually abused there in large numbers. Some one ought to be discussing this and strong investigations should be taking place. Look at the Google pages, it is very shocking. If you’re not shocked, you’re just like the people in the Church you criticize who just shrugged. You’re shrugging too and I would add magistra “bona” to this as well. Either kids matter no matter where they are found or they don’t. You decide for yourself. As for me they matter “even” if they are in the public schools.Catholic abuse is not worse than public abuse. Abuse is abuse and it ought to be condemned across the board. Otherwise a person is just anti catholic and doesn’t really care about kids. What about the kids?

          1. but dismissing the gravity of these sins against the innocent is an abomination

            Let’s be a little more real here. No one — NO ONE — is “dismissing the gravity of these sins.” In fact, we have talked about it, and written about it, and prayed about it, and sought to help the victims, and acted to prevent it in the future, and dealt with it and dealt with it and dealt with it for many many many years now. There is no “dismissing” going on here. And to suggest that there is “dismissing” is, frankly, dishonest, and that is an abomination.

  7. Your points are valid and well-taken, Monsignor. For years,I have been raising them to others who I think may listen. The governments, teacher unions, government worker unions, and their media friends do not want their buddies to get in trouble, even if it means children continuing to be abused, the same as they are unwilling to hold Planned Parenthood accountable for hiding cases of underage rape and incest.

  8. Msgr. Pope is deluded if he thinks this was an historical aberration. Church councils beginning in the 4th century return time and again to the abuse of young boys by priests. The Council of Elvira in 306 is one of them. Not every one who is ordained was called by God. Once that truth is understood and accepted, greater scrutiny of interested individuals may begin. The Church has been all too willing to accept any and every psychological wreck that shows up at the seminary door under the pretext that God is “calling” them. Testing spirits was recommended at the very beginning of the Church.

    1. The graphs are just actual numbers, not sure what that has to do with delusion. I am just reporting that the numbers are down. The numbers would seem to call to question your notion that “too willing” to accept anyone. But any, the numbers are down. What do you think about the public school situation? Any thoughts on that? What can we do to better protect young people there?

  9. It is quite clear that certain news outlets love to defend teachers, who have 1000s of more cases per year than priests. This is totally ridiculous. As a social scientist, I crunched the numbers and realized there were very little numbers to crunch. 1.5 convictions per year to be the exact. That number is diminishing, although there is not much to diminish.

    This is bias at its worse.

  10. You must believe in generational sin, you must believe in communal culpability. If you’re going to believe in Original Sin why not believe in generational sin? We’re paying for the sins of our fathers.

    Look at what happened from 1950 to 1970… Our Blessed Mother, St Anne Catherine Emmerich and Pope Leo XIII warned us… what, do people not want to listen or just don’t believe “in that mystical stuff?” Throw in Sister Mary Nuezil as well, but the Church chose to ignore her.

    To your question I answer that it is Satan and the all condemning motto of Acceptance. America accepting others “right” to do as they please parallels a lot of the world’s evil. Ever think Moses needed the Law every bit as much to simply keep an iron fist on Israel and keep it from turning into another Greece or Rome? And look how hard it was.

    The Sexual Revolution, Abortion and the American porn industry all parallel the above mentioned persons’ prophecies. Already there was horrible pederasty in India, slave trafficking in Malaysia, Indonesia, Russia, India and Europe. Outright rape and pillage for much of Africa. Now there is horrendous sexual slave trafficking in the States. But the acceptance of the Sexual Revolution, the failure of our predecessors (i.e. our grandparents) to keep a level of decency and modesty in America has lead to the current situations. And who lead the charge? Satan. As we were foretold would happen.

    It is the responsibility of every Christian person to take action. Prayer and protest. I’m not advocating picket lines. For physical action simply refuse to spend your money on it.

    But no, most of America pops on the tube every chance they get. They pull up MSN with its front page displays of pre-teen Barmaid and Nurse fantasy Halloween costumes. They chuckle at Glee, glue themselves to American Idol, they crave entertainment and that entertainment is full of nothing but sexual suggestion. Parent’s claims of outrage are but mockery. Don’t call on your kid and then go to a movie theater where the couple on display is not married, having relations, using contraceptive and call it “a grown up thing.” Don’t’ say, “It’s just a harmless little comedy.” But America… the modern day man, doesn’t want to give up this endless entertainment.

    I yearn for a priest to stand up there and throw out every girl wearing shorts with something written across their bottom and short skirts and tops designed to make someone look and envy or lust. And throw out the men wearing shorts and sunglasses too, this ain’t the beach. You stand before the throne of God, the Holy of Holies.

    We need people to stand up, take action. Start with your neighbor, your brother-in-law, your co-worker. Let them know that what they do is wrong. Don’t just tell them you’re offended. Because that’s the same as a sodomite being offended when I tell them what they do is wrong. Being “non-offensive” is one of Satan’s phrases. The Apostles preached to the people of their day of what is right and wrong, and exhorted them to repent. Most homilies today are touchy feely white washed messages. You’re not judging a person’s soul by telling them what is right and wrong.

    And the longer we wait to make a stand, the worse it will become:

    St. Paul to the Romans
    Romans 1:18-32 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse; for although they knew God they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking and their senseless minds were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man or birds or animals or reptiles.
    Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
    For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. Their women exchanged natural relations for unnatural, and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in their own persons the due penalty for their error.
    And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a base mind and to improper conduct. They were filled with all manner of wickedness, evil, covetousness, malice. Full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity, they are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who do such things deserve to die, they not only do them but approve those who practice them.

    The more America sins the farther it will grow from God, and the farther it grows from God, the more it will sin. People have to realize that countries, regions are punished for the way their people act. As participators in this country, as consumers, as a people that say, “but that’s their right” we “approve those who practice them.” And most of us fail to keep our children from not only approving, but idolizing them.

    If you want entertainment on the flat screen for your family go out and rent Bella, or the Human Experience, or God Grew Tired of Us (watch those Sudanese boys and listen to their description of America, Christmas, etc after they had been here for a year).

    I could list a dozen examples where Our Blessed Mother has implored us to return to a simple life, a humble life but it will be followed with posts of people showing their derision of the Amish way of life or truly modest clothing. She tells us that souls are falling into Hell like snowflakes, that the sins of the flesh are the ones that lead the most astray today.

    Above all, pray, constantly, unceasingly.

      1. While we were yet sinners, Christ died for our sins. Isn’t this the root of Christian humility? You would kick people out of Church? What are you thinking? It is only my inability to evoke a sense of reverence in them that comes from their heart, that is the problem. It’s probably good that we only complain to ourselves, they would probably get the message and not come back.

        1. I know of a priest in Atlanta, GA and one who used to celebrate in Greenville, SC who will KICK YOU OUT. I see no problem with it. He also stands at the doorway and gives scarves out to women so that they will cover their heads.

          The lack of respect and reverance is just one more nail being driven in by modern man, all under the guise of “eh, I’d rather have them here than not here.”

          There is a difference in not owning anything and choosing to come to Church dressed in that manner. It’s the same as Cuomo receiving the Eucharist in open defiance.

          This is from Cardinal Burke this week:
          “Is not the Church by its very nature divine? That is, called into being and sustained in being by God, and therefore centered in God. Are not the Church herself and her worship by definition directed toward God?” he asked.

          But, the American cardinal said, in the last 50 years undue attention has been given to the “human aspect of the sacred liturgy, which has overlooked the essence of the sacred liturgy as the encounter of God with us by means of sacramental signs. That is, as the direct action of the glorious Christ in the Church, to give to us the grace of the Holy Spirit.”

          …and he went on to say:
          “He founded the covenant of faithful and enduring love between himself and his people on the Decalogue – the Ten Commandments.”

          The Vatican-based cardinal said that the first three of the Ten Commandments establish the jus divinum – or “the divine right of God to be worshiped by us, in the manner in which he wishes to be worshiped.”

          Cardinal Burke continued, saying that the first three commandments establish God as the only rightful recipient of worship. Following these first three commandments are the regulations about making sacrifices at the altar. About these regulations, Cardinal Burke reiterated that they were not man-made, but rather “the gift of God to man, in which God makes it possible for man to offer the sacrifice of communion with him.”


          Now ask yourself, do you stand before the altar in a mini skirt or with words written across your bottom or with your sunglasses on?

          It’s like telling your kids to drink alcohol at your house because they can’t go anywhere to get hurt. Well, as long as it’s not at someone else’s house… Sure. That logic has gotten modern Christianity and America so far…

  11. The John Jay study leaves out the fact that the cut-off age for child abuse is 10 years old. Most priests who violate their vows do so with older boys and young men. In other words, the facts will never show up in the pretty graph you put on your blog. Adolescents have, and have always, been the target of homosexual men. A simple and fair way to slow this long-lived sin down is to refuse entry to seminary or ordination to homosexuals instead of giving them an easy, yet unquantifiable, 3-year chastity requirement. Real simple. Let’s try it for a century and see how it goes. We’ve tried the other way for 2,000 years. Time for a change. Now that the homosexual orientation can be quantified through psychological testing (hopefull by an outside entity, not the Church), this change would be easy to do.
    In the public schools, teachers are trained not to abuse minors. They are also told to be kind, understanding, and helpful. Teachers are responsible for the physical safety of students, and cannot be employed without current certification. Also, by law, the teacher is in loco parentis. That may be the first mistake. But, students are not trained to not abuse teachers or other minors. Much of the reported sexual assault in our public schools is student-on-student violence. Teachers are also the victim of daily violence and a flood of profanity which mirrors the overly-sexualized culture in which we live. Redress? Fuh-gedda-boud-it! Teachers can be accused when a parent doesn’t like a grade, or a kid wants to get back at a teacher. Happens all the time. Tort-averse principals and school officials often take the side of the family and student. But for the much vilified teachers’ unions, there is no protection for public school teachers. Even less for teachers in Catholic schools which are not unionized and whose enrollment is money-driven. Teachers are alone with students and are not allowed to tape or film their classrooms during the day. That’s considered ‘wrong’. Well, how else can the truth get out? It’s the same closed loop as referring abuse to a bishop rather than the police. There is no light being shined on the classroom. Homeschooling is often chosen by concerned parents because there is too much violence in the schools and no way to stop it. Many parents have had enough. As a teacher, I am right behind them. Enough of the darkness and pain. Enough of the culture of the lie, the habit of deflection, and the fear of the truth. One cannot forgive something one cannot even speak about. We have only just begun speaking as a Church. Why rush to shut us up so soon? Homosexual priests have had 2,000 years to talk. It’s our turn.

    1. I think you may be mistaken about your 10 year old assertion. To my understanding the data include sexual abuse of any one under 18. The ten year old cut off that you allude to is only definitional in that the term pedophilia had usually meant a prepubescent child. There is some dispute about the age being 10 or 13 for that definition. However, the data on the graph include all children 0-18. A simple look at the John Jay report and its data will demonstrate that you are mistaken.

      Your understanding about seminary preparation is also mistaken. We have been using the psyc. tests you described since the mid 80s and identified homosexuals are not being admitted as you imply. The Pope has also indicated in his recent book (Light of the World) that homosexuals are not to be admitted to the priesthood.

      Your remarks about the public schools indicate you didn’t really go to the Google news site. It is much more serious than you describe. Over 500 hits on just one month of articles, arrest after arrest. Take a good look at the articles, they are quite numerous and very serious. There may in fact be a few false allegations in there, but even that can only put a dent in the serious and troubling numbers.

      By the way I am not trying to shut you up and I am not a homosexual priest. I do have concern for the safety of children though and think that perhaps it is time to really allow this issue to be about children and their safety. Even a brief glance at the public school data indicates a very serious problem and if this is really about children then we cannot brush aside what is happening there in large numbers.

      1. Arrests do not convictions make. This is America. Citizens are innocent until proven guilty. Would that more priests in the ’80’s could’ve experienced that. That said, the Church should clean out its own barn first before trying to fix the near-unfixable public schools. Have you seen the film “Waiting for Superman” yet? It’s an eye opener. If “this is realy about children”, then let it be about Catholic children first. Many Catholic schools have adopted policies and procedures to protect students in Catholic classrooms. But it is only with the scandal that protections are being put in place for children in parishes and other Church settings. Diocese had to be sued before they themselves felt the need to change. That’s sad. But, that’s the way it is. It will also take a long time for people to be comfortable swtiching from “Yes, Father” to “Hello, 9-1-1?” But we’ve got time ’til Armaggedon. And, isn’t it better to make a start than not start at all? The public school problems are a red herring which takes our focus off of our own institutions. Charity begins at home.

        1. Charity may begin at home but it does not end there. You are doing some very serious minimizing here about the Public Schools. The Church has worked very hard to address these issues and there have been very few abuse charges in recent years in Catholic schools. We are getting our house in order. Your argument about “let it be Catholic Children first” is grotesque to say the least (dilationes in lege sunt odiosae). All children deserve to be protected. So again, despite your attempts to deflect the issue: How about the public schools? Tell the kids that are being abused that this is just a red herring. Abuse where ever it happens is wrong and it is the children who are suffering while you ring your hands over the fact that there might be a few false charges here and there. Yes, there might, and they should be addressed but that hasn’t stopped the call for reform in the church. Your description about the Church needing to be prodded is largely accurate. Now it’s time to take it to the next level and the public schools are in serious trouble, your minimizing of the problem not withstanding.

  12. To me, the most scandalous thing about this awful period is that in some situations the Church hierarchy failed. The hierarchy was intended to protect the faithful from this sort of thing. In many cases, it did, and I suppose we don’t hear about those cases nearly as much as the cases where it failed. I think there were situations where various warnings were not heeded, where certain bishops didn’t want to be bothered and the result is now obvious.

    It seems that, historically, the ” best of times ” produce the worst of decay from within during the history of the Church. Its no surpirse that in the Western nations where there has been the most peace, plenty and freedom since WW2, the scandal was at its worst.

    I hope this somehow makes the Church stronger, but there’s no denying it has cost Her many faithful and many converts over the short term. Worst of all, the vicitims in many cases are now cut off from the spriritual lifeline they really need. Can anybody blame them for not wanting to return ?

  13. Today I received an article that is very pertinent to your column. It is from a website dedicated to modesty. It discusses the sexualization of clothes. It was very timely relative to your column. Basically, it comes down to: retailers sell what sells – until we use our buying power to change the direction of the marketplace, we will continue to see skimpy outfits.

  14. Not to dismiss the idea that the sensational media coverage of the abuse scandal in the Church was part of demonic designs, it seems to me the difference in coverage between the Church scandal and the abuse in public schools has another explanation. It was a bigger scandal because people expected better from the Church. Sadly, it seems we have very low expectations for anything run by the state, so we are not all that surprised, and therefor not all that scandalized, when we see abuse there. While certainly the Church should have, and be held to the highest standards, it is tragic that we expect and demand so little from our public servants.

  15. There certainly has been a lot of ground opened up and covered here and, I do feel inspired; or perhaps moved; to adress a few of these issues. As a person who was sexually abused (one occasion only) as a child and as a recovering alcoholic (I don’t mention any of the groups I’m involved in by name because none of us are to be the “face” of the organization) I strongly endorse the need for victims to, not only step forward and protect future potential victims, but to also learn to move on and to not harm themselves by harbouring resentments – as I have done. In that case it was harming myself by harbouring the resentment before moving on so that I could quit “drinking poison in hope that the other person would die of it” which was what I finally realized I was doing. And I don’t mean a “get over it” or “suck it up” approach either. Long hours of therapy; the healing power of diligently working God’s gift of the Twelve Steps and getting down on my knees – or even face down on the floor a time or two when that was the only way that I could find enough humility to let go of my anger – and praying personal forgiveness for those who had harmed me in any way (Matthew 6:14-15 John 20:23)
    As for the issue of the Catholic church being called to account as a whole but not other organizations (not just the school system) I believe I have mentioned it and still stand by it. In September at…………………. there was a comment of mine about the issue of a six year old girls who was expected to practice to be a cheerleader by wiggling her body like a burlesque dancer to the tune of “Shake Your Bootie” or some such. []
    So what’s this with so many turning a blind eye to the sexual indoctrination by the school system of children and the predation of many (probably not all) teachers being treated as isolated instances. Sure the church should set a superior example but, when the numbers add up so much and the children are trained in a way that; not only causes them to bypass and fail to experience their full childhood; but could also lead them to believe that early sexual adventures are natural, this could well protect the teachers who are degrading that very noble profession. If a young student is assaulted with messages of over sexualization wouldn’t they be a lot less likely to report a seduction, or other coercian about it being natural (typical “blame the victim” guilt trip), that exploits their vulnerability? So why aren’t the media and the educational administrators addressing these two connected issues as a whole when the church is being called on old large numbers being part of a whole? A few non celebate ministers of other Christian faiths who have been caught are rarely mentioned as well which seems to further point to the likely hood of a very unholy alliance so distorting the truth. Is the attention drawn to one church, at least in part, an attempt to distract from a two pronged effort of educational sexualization and treating a huge scandal as isolated instances, being used to cover up someone setting up young children to be harvested as if they are some kind of sexual livestock?

    Also, I am pleased that, after about three years of reading the bible through one or two paragraphs per day to help assimilate a bit at a time, I have just recently finished and have gone back to the beginning where I’ve read Genesis 1:1&2. Genesis 3 is for tomorrow.

    1. Oops. Genesis 1:3 not Genesis 3, and that was today – Genesis 1:4 tomorrow. First time through complete was O.K. (Old Kinderhoek) but need more comprehension.

      1. Still imperfect. I read one or two chapters of the Bible a day not, “one or two paragraphs.

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