Some respected campaigners even regarded it as a civil right
Catholic Herald (CatholicHerald.co.uk)
By William Oddie on Monday, 18 October 2010
Over the weeks before the papal visit, during which unprecedented attacks on the Catholic Church (as a supposedly endemically paedophile organisation) and the Pope in particular (as being allegedly guilty of repeated cover-ups of priestly child abuse) formed the most frequent articles of indictment used by the vicious atheist campaign against the visit, most of us could not imagine how it would ever prove to be the dazzling success that it was, or how the Holy Father would ever so gently reduce Dawkins, Tatchell et al to utter irrelevance.
The charges against Pope Benedict in particular had been seen by most of the media not to stand up to close examination. But that left the shame of the Catholic Church over child abuse by a tiny number of its priests, and the cover-up and the moving on by a number of dioceses of priests accused of this detestable crime.
I argued, some of you will remember, that the percentage of clergy involved is no higher than that in other religious denominations or in the population at large, with one notable survey emanating from Stamford University claiming that it was actually smaller (between three to five per cent of priests against eight per cent of males in the American population). That doesn’t make it any better for the victims of clerical abuse, of course: but we need to understand that the scandal is not that our priests are particularly prone to child abuse, but that we are all too representative as a sample of the population, when we should be setting an example to it.
Nor even is the accusation against some bishops, that they covered up the abuse and moved the perpetrators on, actually untypical of secular behaviour (cf for example, the American school system: though, again, it is not therefore in any way excusable). I have argued all this before, and those who want my evidence and arguments must go to my previous blogs on the subject.
There is one further point that needs to be made, however. Most of the cases of paedophile or (more often) ephebophile (teenage) sex abuse that have emerged over recent years took place decades ago, many in the 70s and 80s, when a very different view was taken by some of what we all without exception now know to be both a revolting crime and a sexual perversion particularly resistant to treatment or therapy. There really were some people who actually thought that paedophilia was a civil right. I was reminded of this by an accusation, made somewhere in cyberspace recently, against politicians supposedly guilty 30 years ago (I say nothing about whether this accusation was justified or not) of complicity in supporting paedophile organisations now long since dead.
Certainly at the time public support for paedophilia, though subject to hostile attack in the press, was not unknown. In the early 80s, the National Council for Civil Liberties (now Liberty), according to the Daily Telegraph, “wanted the age of consent to be lowered to 14 and incest decriminalised. It also defended self-confessed paedophiles in the press and allowed them to attend its meetings… Among the groups affiliated to NCCL were the Paedophile Information Exchange and Paedophile Action for Liberation, whose members argued openly for the abolition of the age of consent.”
Nobody says that the response of the Church was in any way adequate. But it did know that paedophile and ephebophile behaviour were profoundly wrong. What the Church didn’t understand any better than anyone else did was its nature. As a result, too many bishops thought that a combination of penitence and therapy (which we now understand rarely works) was a proper response.
To the dreadful pain and lasting damage of too many victims, they were wrong, utterly wrong. But these were almost unimaginably different times. We have all, and not least the Church, moved on. We need to understand that.
About the author
- Dr William Oddie is a leading English Catholic writer and broadcaster. He edited The Catholic Herald from 1998 to 2004 and is the author of The Roman Option and Chesterton and the Romance of Orthodoxy.
Showing 16 comments
There is so much distortion, incorrect information, rewriting of history, false statistics, and pure nonsense in this article that I wouldn’t know where to begin to refute it all. This unprofessional attempt at journalism literally makes me feel ill. I hope that no reader accepts this man’s opinions as fact, as he is clearly biased, misinformed, and apparently comfortable with going to any measure to try to make his point.
What a horribly self-serving article; the main problem has always been how the RCC stonewalls criminal investigations, often with the cooperation of the local police. The vatican still refuses to issue clear orders to have all allegations of illegal activity investigated by police — not “investigated” by clerics who, at best, are rank amateurs at criminal investigation and at worst have a vested interest in covering up wrongdoing.
The solution is simple. All criminal allegations need to be investigated by local law enforcement. That’s what they’re FOR.
Bwaj in reply to Brian Westley
Notable Catholics wrote with harsh clarity and understanding about the problem of sexual abuse nearly 1000, 500, and 50 years ago – St. Peter Damian (Book of Gomorrah 1049), Pope Pius V (Horrendum 1568), and Father Fitzgerald (letters 1950s-60s). Dismissing responses of recent decades on the grounds of ignorance by their successors is unsupportable in an institution that claims such strong devotion to history, tradition, and wisdom from the past.
You misrepresent the implications of recent events. What is known is that many recent _reports_ of abuse concern incidents that occurred long ago. For understandable reasons which many describe, victims are not inclined to report promptly when abused. Unless you assume that, somehow, the human nature of deeply wounded victims has just changed in some fundamental ways, most youngsters being abused this afternoon should not be expected to find the strength, courage, and inspiration to report the crime for many years.
The truth could free us all.
You really need to get the facts correct. First, your statement about “that the percentage of clergy involved is no higher than that in other religious denominations or in the population at large” is based on what the Church has reported. It is based on their own internal investigation and self reporting. In the USA, there were 7 dioceses that were investigated by an independent source (either district attorney or grand Jury). In all 7 cases, the percentage of abusive clergy was nearly double what those dioceses had reported in the Church’s internal investigation. All 7 showed a consistent 10% of abusive priests. It makes you wonder about the self-reporting of the other dioceses and their honest reporting. It also shows that those dioceses that were investigated, the percentage of abusive clergy is above the general population. Please lets not base our facts on what the Church self-reports. They have a vested interest ins keeping the percentage low.
I suggest you read ‘THE JOHN JAY REPORT’ which was conducted by http://usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/
‘CHILD SEX SUPPORTER TATCHELL TO SPEAK AT GREENBELT’ (19 July 2010)
‘PETER TATCHELL AND THE PAEDOPHILE BOOK’ (20 February 2010) http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press146.html tells us Tatchell wrote a chapter titled ‘Questioning Ages of Majority and Ages of Consent’ in the 1986 book ‘THE BETRAYAL OF YOUTH: Radical Perspectives on Childhood Sexuality, Intergenerational Sex, and the Social Oppression of Children and Young People’ which was edited by Warren Middleton ‘vice-chairperson’ of the Paedophile Information Exchange http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press146.html Peter Tatchell’s chapter preceded a chapter by Roger Moody titled ‘Ends and Means; How to Make Paedophilia Acceptable’. A list of chapters and their authors can be found here http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press146a.html and more information on the book’s contributors can be found here: http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/The%20Betrayal%20of%20Youth.pdf
‘Peter Tatchell – What a Hypocrite!’ (12th September 2010) http://www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press164.html
‘Question: Who said: ‘Not all sex involving children is unwanted and abusive’? Answer: The Pope’s biggest British critic’ http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1311193/PETER-HITCHENS-Question-Who-said-Not-sex-involving-children-unwanted-abusive-Answer-The-Popes-biggest-British-critic.html
‘THE RC GAY SEX SCANDAL – ABUSE OF THE TRUTH’ By Stephen Green www.christianvoice.org.uk/Press/press165.html
Bwaj in reply to Bwaj
THE JOHN JAY REPORT’, is known fully as ‘The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States’ http://usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/ was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and was commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Ted in reply to Dave
If you have any sources that we can read about the level of abuse being twice that reported I would certainly be interested to read them.
Bwaj in reply to Dave
I really think you should shut up Dave because you are totally uninformed on this subject.
If anyone (including a priest) abuses a child he should be prosecuted. I can’t think of a more heinous crime than this. All I here are excuses. The Church is a laughing stock over this, and some Catholics have stopped going to church because of it. I just think there is a false sense of forgiveness in the Church. I’m all for forgiveness but that don’t mean even priests are above the law. But as St Paul said, ‘in the last days people would have a form of godliness, but deny it’s power. Avoid them!’ Priests who can abuse children are frauds, excommunicate them and prosecute them for the sake of everyone and especially the little children who deserve to maintain there innocence. However, from reading the article, nothing will change and I will have to keep on taking the anti-catholic abuse I take day in and day out about priests interfering with children, and all I can say, ‘I do not understand what they do.’
John A Brown
The following gives a present day view and understanding of the experience of survivors of clergy abuse and the continuing cover up. http://www.molestedcatholics.com/Not-in-my-lifetime
Be shocked by the global estimates of the numbers of those sexually abused by Catholic clergy. http://www.molestedcatholics.com/Estimating-the-numbers-global.php#stats
A brief review of the available literature of 30 years ago will show that this issue was well know and described. It is only the Catholic church which has this tainted view. There were many who wrote on the Briggs and Alice Miller are 2 that come to mind, however there were many others.
Oddie is entitled to his religious beliefs, however he crosses the line when he attempts to distort history to suit his religious agenda
Yes, we must move on. Just like the Jews have moved on since the Holocaust. Nonsense. The Church hasn’t moved on from anything. The abuse was the direct result of Vatican II–lax seminarian standards were initiated which resulted in the mess. Has this standard changed? Has the twisted, modernistic design of parish churches been abandoned? Have the devotional statues been replaced that were destroyed by my local church? Has the ancient Latin Rite been reinstated in ALL parishes? Has the influence of the Masonic, Jewish, and Protestant originators of Vatican II been overcome? Has the wayward apologies of Koran-kissing anti-popes been diluted? Will once-sacred music be heard again over the furor of guitars and drums? Will the Holy Eucharistic NOT be placed in the hand? Will the ridiculous “handshake of peace” be gone forever at the Consecration of the Mass? Will the altar be turned around to face God instead of the people? Will the sacred Latin be used as it had been for near two thousand years? Until these issues are reversed, the so-called “unprecedented attacks” on the Church shall continue. The Church is going to have to learn what President Obama will soon learn: the faithful have had enough!
Bwaj in reply to Prw52
It has nothing whatsoever to do with Vatican II – such cases are higher among Protestants, non-Christian religions, secularism and in the Catholic Church before 1978 when Pope John Paul II became Pope.
Bwaj in reply to Prw52
We do not have any ‘anti-Pope’ – however, heretics who claim any Catholic who does not use the extraordinary form of the Mass is damned should repent before he ends up in Hell.
Prw52 in reply to Bwaj
Well, as far as my ending up in Hell, Bwaj, I have less to worry about than child molesting priests and the Popes that hid the abuse. As the Virgin Mary warned in many apparitions, the Modernist infiltration of the Church (a direct result of Vatican II), is responsible for the current problems facing the Church.