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Lack of Statistics and Due Process in Priest Sex Abuse Reports

August 30, 2018

In regards to the child sex abuse allegations directed at the Church, there are two problems that are often overlooked, two problems that would in no way compromise the truth if a person were to point them out, but which would be devastating to the mainstream progressive—and a large part of the Catholic—media's narrative of the whole scandal; devastating because these problems reveal the lack of transparency in the news reports. Ideology-driven journalism and politics have made these two problems prevalent, shrouding the truth and preventing justice from being served.

 

The Statistical Problem

 

The first problem is the fact that, while any number of child sex abuse cases is an unacceptable number, even the most exaggerated number of child sex abuse cases among priests in the U.S. is still only a fraction of a percent of the overall number of child sex abuse cases in the country at large. I've yet to see a news story that sufficiently highlights this problem. 

 

The Pennsylvania grand jury report states that over 1,000 minors were sexually abused by priests over a 70-year period. To put things in perspective, on average over a quarter million Americans age 12 and over are sexually abused or assaulted every year. About 65,700 of those were children under the age of 17, and 21,000 were children under 12. These numbers are per year. The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) states that "every eight minutes, child protective services substantiates, or finds evidence for, a claim of child sex abuse". These numbers are a reflection of what is happening right now. The alleged cases of sexual abuse of children by priests mentioned in the Pennsylvania report—most of which happened decades ago—would account for 14, or less than .02 percent, of the 86,700 child sex abuse cases per year.  

 

Let’s say every diocese in the U.S. was as bad as the six mentioned in the report. Catholic priests would then account for 466, or about .538 percent, of the 86,700 sex abuse cases reported per year. One can say that the 1,000 cases reported in the report are only a fraction of those that actually occurred, but so is the 86,700 number. Only 37 percent of all sexual assaults in the U.S. are reported to prosecutors. That fact is a sad and interesting one, because it shows a trend across the board when it comes to victims not reporting the crime, yet when it comes to the Catholic Church an unreported instance of child abuse is automatically considered a cover up of some sort. 

 

I understand that many graces have been given to the Church, and therefore more is required of her—especially when it comes to morality. But this is not the way the priest sex abuse scandal is being framed. It would be refreshing to hear a mainstream media outlet frame the scandal in a way that depicts the Church as a moral leader in our society, and then say as a leader she should hold herself to higher moral standards. Unfortunately that is not the case. The scandal is framed like this: The Church has a disproportionately, disturbingly large number of pedophiles among its clergy, and on top of that the clergy has been covering up abuse for decades, and this represents a serious accountability issue. 

 

One case of child sex abuse is too many, but if we are going to say there are too many pedophiles in the Church then we should also say there are too many everywhere. Accusations that the Church has acted as a "sex club" for decades fail to take into account the universal problem of sex trafficking, the porn industry, gay communities in every major city, and all of the unspeakable aggressive sexual behavior in those environments. Yes, homosexuality and pedophilia in the Church are serious problems. They are serious problems everywhere! 

 

There are too many self-proclaimed whistleblowers who are informing the public of the immoral activity in the Church, but then stop there. Where are the grand jury reports investigating the child sex abuse in public and private schools, other religious organizations, and government organizations? Where's the hotline for people who were sexually abused as a child by a teacher, non-Catholic preacher, or social worker?

 

Pointing fingers at the Church and nowhere else is a symptom of the anti-Catholic hysteria behind the whole scandal. Another symptom is how quickly people label accused priests as guilty in all of these alleged cases, before they can be tried in a court of law.

 

The Lack of Due Process Problem


The Pennsylvania report claims that the statute of limitations made it difficult for alleged victims of sex abuse to have their case considered, even now after the zero tolerance policy from the Dallas Charter has been implemented in dioceses across the U.S. for 16 years.  

 

Meanwhile, diocesan decisions made to prevent scandal are being called the very cause of scandal. When someone accuses a priest of sexual misconduct, the priest is usually removed from ministry another by his bishop before the accusations are even proven. Oftentimes the priest is also put in a rehabilitation center ... for simply being accused. Removing the priest from the very environment that allegedly incited his illicit behavior is not the same as a cover-up. Just because the bishop didn't report the accused priest to prosecutors doesn't mean he meant to hide the crime. Furthermore, there isn't any legitimate reason for why the alleged victims couldn't report the abusive priests to prosecutors themselves. The fact that so many cases were not reported to prosecutors, and the fact that oftentimes when they were reported, the case was eventually dissolved by prosecutors, seems to suggest that many of the allegations were not grounded in anything factual themselves.

 

The obvious failure to treat these allegations like any other in our law system should raise suspicion. To further prove my point, it should be noted that the Pennsylvania report's release was not approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in June, despite notable clamoring that it be released. Was it approved by the court when it was released in August? It wasn't released in June because it accused so many people of so many wrongdoings while never giving them, or anyone who could have represented them, a chance to offer a defense, and the court considered this to be problematic. I find it hard to believe that issue was resolved in two months.

 

We live in a society where the due process of the law is supposed to be available to everyone, even those convicted of the most heinous crimes; but in this Pennsylvania report—and in many child abuse allegations against priests in the past—the fury of the masses was so strong that accusations were enough to convict the priests and even the whole Church. 

 

"There is no opportunity for the accused priest to refute the accusation or to confront the accuser. Truth and justice are secondary to dealing with the problem. The expedient way of dealing with an accusation is automatically to believe the accuser." —Father Stuart MacDonald, J.C.L, canon lawyer

 

Two things I learned as a journalist were that there is always another side to a story, and the truth is hardly ever what it seems to be. Things that seem apparent on the surface become less and less certain the more facts you gather. I am not saying that a closer look of the facts would vindicate the Church entirely. As Bill Donahue, president of The Catholic League said, of the 300 priests mentioned in the Pennsylvania report, I suspect half are guilty. I also suspect that many of the cases are awfully exaggerated. 

 

Testimonies against these allegedly sexually abusive priests have been easy to find for the past 16 years. Robust rebuttals to these allegations, however, are not as easy to find. Are we to assume that the accused had no rebuttal to offer? That would be jumping to some pretty harsh conclusions. The priests accused in the Pennsylvania report, who are still alive, were given a mere thirty days to offer a rebuttal after being given no information regarding the allegation except the report itself. As defense attorney Christopher Capozzi wrote in response to the grand juries' allegations against his client, Steve Jesselnick:

 

"The law should provide private citizens with the tools necessary to respond to these infringements.... Due process should allow something much, much more than just the opportunity to author a response to heinous allegations and have it appended to an 800-page plus report which bears the imprimatur of a grand jury, this Court and the Office of the Attorney General. Due process demands access to the materials and testimony submitted by the Commonwealth to the Grand Jury, the materials collected by the prosecution in its investigation and the prosecution should be required to prove at a contested hearing—even when liberty is not at stake—whether there is enough evidence to brand a private individual a sexual deviant and child abuser.... this response is a matter of law, practicality, and principle..." (Report responses, pg. 44)

 

In representing those accused in the Pennsylvania report, defense attorneys quickly discovered that this wasn't even really about defending their client. It was about defending the law and their state's constitution. The Pennsylvania report undermines possible defenses that may reveal truths about each case, but were quickly dismissed in favor of the alleged victims. The report is also written from an apparently accusatory, one-sided angle. Virtually every fact given is presented in such a way as to accuse the priest and the Church. The report gave no credence to the rebuttals Church representatives offered. Why is this not seen as biased? 

 

For the purpose of cleaning out the house internally, all of the current chastisement is prudent and necessary. But the chastisement is not coming from within the Church predominantly. It's coming from without. This ought to raise suspicion, because the same mainstream media and politicians that mock the Church for its stance on contraception, abortion, and homosexuality are now accusing the Church—and only the Church—of the same immoral behavior that is most likely just as prevalent in the LGBTQ community it supports. Why are they focusing on priests? It's because they are the last acceptable prejudice, and due process of the law need not apply to priests. It should apply to everyone else, but for priests, zero tolerance is deemed to be a better approach.

 

Zero Tolerance

 

To simply say that the zero tolerance policy is a bogus way to approach these allegations, and just leave it at that, really doesn't address the problem with the policy. If a priest is accused, before he can stand trial, he immediately becomes a legal liability to the diocese, the diocese is held accountable for anything that could be perceived as cover-up, and the media cries scandal. What many people are not seeing is that there would be no scandal if the majority of accused priests were proven innocent in a court of law. The problem is they're never even given the chance. They can't be proven innocent or guilty, because the majority of cases happened too long ago. The priest is often no longer even living and the details have become too obscure. The accusers cite the problem with the statute of limitations—which limits the number of years a victim can wait before reporting a crime—saying it bars too many cases from being considered, but they overlook the need for the statute. It is there for a reason. Due process is there for a reason. They're not obstacles to justice. They're there to help prove the accuser's claims and reveal the truth. If the claims are true, the accusers should welcome a trial. They should want to bring attention to the facts supporting their claims as soon as they can, before they become too obscure. If the alleged victims in the Pennsylvania report truly wanted justice, they had at least 13 years to get it. After that, their claims simply become too difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. That's why the statute of limitation is needed. It's needed for the sake of justice.

 

Prosecutors want to serve justice to victims, but justice simply cannot be served for cases that have grown so stagnant. These allegations were made in such a way that many of them can't be adequately investigated. The obscurity of the accusations, and the fact that they often cannot be proven in a court of law, should raise suspicion. If I wanted to falsely accuse someone, I may take a similar approach. Why bother with a trial when a mere allegation will suffice? Why bother with "innocent until proven guilty" and due process of the law when you have the fury of the masses on your side?

 

A person can hate the Church for many personal reasons. They can hate it for refusing to give them an annulment. They can hate it for the way a nun treated them in parochial school. A great number of people have been primed to believe any dirt they hear on the Church because of the emotional pain she caused them in the past. Also, liberals and conservatives alike want to see serious reform in the Church, and no singular series of events has given more momentum to those who want to see change in the Church than this "summer of scandal." These underlying motives may not be what sparked the current chastisement toward the Church's clergy, but I guarantee you these motives helped fan the flame.

 

The Last Acceptable Prejudice


As a society becomes more secular and progressive, priests often become the most persecuted group because they represent the old way of doing things. Despite how we claim to now live in a progressive society that shouts "justice for all!", priests are still our favorite scapegoat. This goes far back in America, where Protestants used to accuse priests of using convents as brothels. Protestants did this because they feared that the Catholic Church would become too influential in America, so they used these false accusations as a way to draw people away from the Church. It got so bad at one point that it wasn't uncommon for employers to refuse to hire Catholics. I don't bring this up to dig up bones from the past, but just to give people some historic perspective. It's easy to get caught in the storm of a prejudice when you're living in the eye of it. Only once it's over can you look back and see what the people who were outside it saw all along. Priests are the person of Christ on earth, and they will always have to endure the hatred of the world because they hated Christ first. In the cases where an accused priest was legitimately proven guilty, have them ousted and imprisoned; but in the cases where the priest is innocent, and I suspect there are many, I can't help but see those priests as playing the role of Christ since he was also calumniated. 

 

The priest sex abuse scandal is probably going to be seen in the future as another instance where the Catholic Church acted viciously. It will be recollected by anti-Catholic historians along with the Crusades, the Inquisition, and indulgences in the litany of injustices committed by the Church. Just like with all those other historic events, the details of the scandal will be shrouded in mystery so people will have to resort to generalizations. The Church will hardly be given the chance to defend herself because the dominant ideology of the day will already be inherently anti-Catholic. This is already how it is today, and it is how it will continue to be if we don't do something about it. 

 

The ideological war we are experiencing has more power than many of us would like to admit.  For many people, especially Americans, their ideology is their truth and they will stand by whatever reinforces it. We live in a media-saturated world, and many of us don't even notice that we base our reality on the news we read, see and hear on our TV and computer screens. We may not notice this but the ideologues do, and they use that which they know will influence us to forward their agendas. None do this better than progressive homosexuals and their liberal sympathizers.

 

The Homosexual Agenda

 

The John Jay Report of 2004 documented the cases of abuse of minors by priests from 1950 to 2002. It found that 78 percent of the cases involved post-pubescent victims ages 14-17, and a vast majority of the victims were boys. This fact in no way vindicates the priests who sexually abused these boys, but it does support the theory that the real problem is rooted in the insidious influences of homosexual dominance in our culture. Of course there were and are child abusing priests. Of course there was and is a homosexual subculture in the Church. She has conformed to the secular culture and its vices, and thereby has been infected by the same sins.

 

Homosexuality is celebrated by the culture at large, but then condemned when the homosexual lifestyle is practiced by a priest. There are just so many factors that make this whole 16-year old scandal seem like nothing more than a vendetta against the Church. It's like a secret weapon progressives pull out when they feel their ideology is being threatened. The last scandal broke a few years after President George Bush Jr. became president. This time I think Donald Trump's presidency and his recent Supreme Court justice nomination sparked a panic in progressive camps, so they felt the need to launch a campaign that smeared Judge Kavanaugh's Church.

 

It takes a keen eye to see the progressive agenda for what it is. In all of its subtleties though, once you know the strategy of progressives, you can spot their work everywhere. They target the most influential, most powerful sectors of society to make their worldview seem more widespread and integrated than it really is. They infiltrate the media, academia, politics and—yes, I would even say—the Church. They then rise through the ranks and force those below them to adopt their worldview. Those who don't are silenced. Those who do are rewarded.

 

This is what has happened in the Church, and it makes the problem of homosexuality seem worse than it is. Because a few powerful clerics in the Church have promoted the homosexual agenda, it seems like it's everywhere. Because so many soft priests have grown sympathetic toward homosexuality for fear of being reprimanded by these high-ranking clerics, it seems like the Church has grown to accept homosexuality. Since homosexuality is so central to the progress of society in the minds of progressives (to them, society cannot progress if traditional views of sexuality are upheld), homosexuals see it as a service to humanity to implement their lifestyle into as many influential institutions as they can. It's seen as a humanitarian cause to them.

 

Homosexuality, Narcissism, and Pedophilia

 

There are many straight narcissists who desire great power, and there are many people who struggle with same-sex attraction who are not narcissists, but narcissism lines up pretty well with an outward homosexual lifestyle. To believe that your sexual preference is more important than the natural order of sexuality and the social norm for sexual relationships, and to adopt an identity that highlights that sexual preference, is to live in a world that is surrounded by your own truth and desires. More often than not, I believe, narcissism precedes homosexual behavior; and narcissism can lead to not just homosexuality but also pedophilia. Both homosexuality and pedophilia have the same root; both come from narcissism because both assume that one's own sexual preference is more important than the natural order and the rights of others. Homosexuality is the more minor manifestation, and therefore it is more widely accepted; but if we want to root out pedophilia—in the Church and the society at large—we need to root out homosexuality because it is usually the disorder from which pedophilia springs. If we are going to root out homosexuality, we need to root out narcissism—in the Church and society at large—because it is usually the disorder from which an outward homosexual lifestyle springs. 

 

Narcissism being a root cause of outward homosexuality makes even more sense when you consider how homosexual clerics have risen to power in the Church. A man who believes he can conform the faithful to an unnatural view of sexuality, and have them accept his homosexual lifestyle, must think the world revolves around him. Thus it's natural for homosexuals to seek positions of power in the Church and make their view of reality seem more dominant than it really is. The only way they can continue to live in their self-revolving world is to surround themselves with inferiors who give them the moral affirmation they want to hear. Infiltrate the Church enough, and you'll have the most morally influential institution on the planet condoning your sinful lifestyle.

 

Relativism, progressivism, modern liberalism, and socialism have all given the homosexual agenda the platform it needs to prevail. Narcissistic, power-hungry people who think their sexuality should dominate and direct society have risen to positions of power in the media, academia, politics and the Church. Meanwhile, the straight-thinking (no pun intended) faithful are like, "That's not the way I want my Church to go." But their voices aren't as heard because they are not seeking positions of power. It's a sad reality that those most unfit to lead are often those who get the chance to. This is the case in politics and in the Church. McCarrick, Fr. James Martin and all other homosexual or homosexual-sympathizing clerics do not represent the true Catholic Faith. They simply rose through the ranks and found a way to influence, deceive, and manipulate a large number of people. 

 

Then comes the death blow. Up to now, the pervasive homosexuality in the Church has managed to stay beneath the international radar. But now that the values of progressives are losing ground, they are turning against the very Church they sought to enlighten with their progressive sexuality. They cheered on the homosexual clerics and their sympathizers in the Church until they remembered what the Church really stood for at its core. Maybe the homosexual clerics and their sympathizers thought the media and politicians would leave the curtain up, like they do in all the other areas of our society where heinous sexual sins are a problem. If the homosexuals and their sympathizers in the Church thought that, it makes perfect sense that they were shocked when they were exposed with no chance of vindication.

 

The Church has conformed to the culture beyond what is good for her, yet she is still labeled an enemy of the culture's dominant progressive ideology. So when the cards are down, all bets are off. The culture exposes the Church's sins. It's the friend who is fun to play with until something serious happens; then he betrays you to protect his own interests. When times get tough and it seems like progressivism is losing the ideology war, the progressives bring the Church to the gallows. 

 

Crisis of Faith

 

This wouldn't be so big of a deal to me if there wasn't a new child sex abuse case arising at least every eight minutes. Real problems are being glossed over because so many people are fixed upon admonishing the Church. Not only that. Even more Catholic parishes and schools are bound to be closed because of all of this. The Church has already lost $3.8 billion to child sex abuse lawsuits and claims. On top of that, souls are bound to be lost because they couldn't stand to remain Catholic through all the scandals. Is the ideological vendetta against the Church really worth all that is being lost and forgotten?

 

I felt the need to write this article because this is far from over. Various other dioceses are now doing their own investigations in the wake of the Pennsylvania report, and things are bound to get messy. Whenever the majority latches onto a perceived injustice, it's hard to have a voice that goes against the current. But someone needs to. Someone needs to point out how blinding fury can be, how it can veil some pretty relevant facts and straightforward logic. I agree with those who say these heinous crimes of sex abuse in the Church need to be exposed; but part of that exposure includes due process of the law for the accused, and a clear understanding of the statistics. We need to see that the problem of child sex abuse is endemic in American culture at large.

 

Somewhat of a Summary

 

People need to see this Pennsylvania report and the McCarrick scandal as the hallow edifices that they are. While the 86,700 reports of child sex abuse in the U.S. per year get an article in the local paper or a five-minute segment in the news, the mainstream media remains laser-focused on the 1,000 cases committed by priests in Pennsylvania over 70 years. Our priests need not be ashamed, and we ought not be ashamed of them. The only thing the Church needs to repent of here is how we've become so much a part of the secular culture that our own sins are indistinguishable from those of the society around us. While we accept the mainstream media's narrative that has always aimed to tear down the Church, we forget about the priests falsely accused and assaulted, all because the fury of the masses in this democratic tyranny of a nation overrules due process of the law, sensible justice and just plain logic.

 

If anyone does read this, he or she may think I am denying the allegations made against the priests in the Pennsylvania report. They may also think I am trying to downplay the seriousness of the crimes of those priests who actually did abuse children. That reader would be partially right. I am in denial of the alleged guilt of all priests who have not been proven guilty by due process of the law. I am denying the credibility of a mainstream media narrative that paints the Church as a corrupt organization that has covered up heinous crimes. I am denying all parts of this scandal that demand more proof and perspective in the name of truth, justice and just plain logic.

 

In the name of truth, justice and just plain logic:

 

When will we learn to think for ourselves?

 

When will we refuse to be pawns of the press?

 

When will we learn to just walk outside, take a look around us, and build our own unique view of the world?

 

 

 

 

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