Mudcat Café message #3945034 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #164703   Message #3945034
Posted By: Joe Offer
19-Aug-18 - 06:25 PM
Thread Name: BS: Clerical abuse of kids: More Revelations
Subject: RE: BS: Clerical abuse of kids: More Revelations
I've studied this issue of child sexual abuse for a long, long time, and I still have no answers. I started wondering about it when I was a Catholic seminary student in the late 1960s. We had to go through an extensive battery of tests, concluding with an interview with a psychiatrist. And then one Monday morning, 9 of my classmates were gone - with no explanation. They tended to be the weird guys in the class, so we surmised their removal had something to do with sexual problems. The diocese said they were doing testing to make sure that no "problem people" made it into the priesthood.

And then in the 1970s, many U.S. Catholic dioceses sank millions of dollars into state-of-the-art treatment centers for priests. The psychiatrists who ran the centers told the bishops that priests with sex or alcohol or mental problems would be fully cured after 6 to 12 months of residential treatment. The returning priests were certified as ready for duty, and the bishops believed them.

But then in the mid-1980s, the independent weekly National Catholic Reporter (NCR) began to publish articles about sexual abuse by priests. It wasn't until a 2002 Boston Globe series of articles, that the abuse scandal came to the knowledge of the general public. The U.S. Catholic bishops began discussing the problem in 1985, but did not come up with procedures for responding until after the Globe articles in 2002. Until 2002, each individual diocese followed its own procedures. My Sacramento diocese and many others offered victims counseling and a $25,000 or $40,000 no-questions-asked settlement, and reported incidents to police for criminal investigation. But many dioceses did all sorts of game-playing and coverups to evade responsibility. But overall, the U.S. Catholic Church has handled the problem reasonably well since 2002.

But there still really aren't any answers or understanding. Nigel says paedophilia is an incurable disorder, and I tend to believe him. But if that's the case, how does one respond to this disorder? Certainly, our primary obligation is to protect children from sexual abuse. But if the offender can't help himself, then certainly he deserves some level of compassion. Life in prison would remove the offender from the opportunity to commit crime, but prison inmates known to have abused children are often murdered or raped by other inmates.

So, I just don't know how our society should respond to this crime of child sexual abuse.

This Pennsylvania report is challenging to read. Responses by the Catholic dioceses to Child sex abuse have not been uniform. Sometimes, the response is compassionate and appropriate, sometimes it's confused and clumsy, sometimes it's callous and cold, and sometimes it appears that church officials were just plain running scared and didn't know what to do.

It's a mess, and the mess hasn't been fixed yet. Nobody knows how to fix the mess, so who's to blame?

-Joe-