Sex Abuse Bibliography

April 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Those of you follow my blog know that I am occasionally subject to an obsession with the Vatican that I consider a serious personal failing. A falling off the wagon, as it were. Of course, the (as virtually ever journalist in the world describes it) “mounting” Catholic sex abuse scandal certainly helps to explain my current mania. You can  barely turn on the radio without hearing a reference to the Vatican and sex abuse. Still…

In an attempt to “achieve some closure” on this latest episode of Vatican mania, I have decided, in classic professorial style, to construct  a list of articles about Catholic clergy sex abuse that in my opinion add at least some nuance to the “conversation.” Your paper on same is due May 1.

I have already mentioned the Ross Douthout April 11 NYTimes op-ed piece about Benedict XVI being “The Better Pope” with regard to sex abuse. I mention it again because it doesn’t seem to have gotten much play. Hard to fathom how somebody who was in charge of the Catholic Church for almost three decades within the period during which a massive cover-up of sex abuse ostensibly took place could continue to get a pass. But JPII was a brilliant tactician; perhaps he continues to be so even after death.

Another article on sex abuse and the church, “On Scandal and Scandals,” by priest-psychologist Brendan Callaghan, appeared last week on Thinking Faith,  the on-line journal of the British Jesuits. The striking thing about this article is that, although it’s written by a Catholic priest, it exhibits neither the inept defensiveness of the Vatican nor the vituperative tone of too much  journalism on the scandal. Callaghan’s concluding thoughts on sin and reconciliation in the light of the Resurrection of Jesus instilled more hope in me about this great mess than anything I’ve read in a long time. (Thinking Faith, by the bye,  is free, and well worth subscribing to.)

On another front, one well to the south of the countries where the scandal is getting the greatest play, the Catholic Information Service of Africa (CISA) has published a talk on clergy sex abuse by the Archbishop of Johannesburg, Buti Tlhagale. Archbishop Thlagale is unambiguous in his condemnation of sex abuse by Catholic clergy. And he speaks of the clergy in first person plural–“we,” not “you,”–detailing the enormous harm that has been done to the Church by priests. But he doesn’t stop there, ending, instead, with words of hope, those spoken by Jesus to Francis of Assisi at the time of his conversion: “Francis, go rebuild my house, which, as you see, is all being destroyed.” Would that Archbishop Tlhagale’s emphatic condemnation had been quoted alongside those of the Vatican nitwit who, during Holy Week, compared the treatment of the Church to the oppression of the Jews. (CISA’s email coverage of the Church in Africa is also free and worthwhile. Subscription info here.) 

Finally, I bring to your attention yesterday’s article in the New York Times  (April 23) about an $18.5 million sex abuse judgment  against the Boy Scouts of America. Apparently the Scouts for decades kept a secret file of sex abusers that ostensibly “detailed many instances across the country in which troop leaders or volunteers were allowed to continue working with children even after the Scouts had received complaints that they had committed sexual abuse.” The Scouts’ lawyer argued that “the files proved that the Scouts were ahead of their time in tracking child sexual abuse, even if the system was ‘not foolproof.’” One commentator, at least, suggested that the setting up of the file actually was well intentioned, initially at least.

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  1. Hans Kung’s open letter to the bishops was published 4/16 in the Irish Times. So far, I haven’t seen it mentioned in print on this side of the Atlantic. An exerpt can be read on line at religionleftlaw.com, which has a link to the whole letter.

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  2. Sorry, slip of the key: It should have been religiousleftlaw.com

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  3. What surprises me is the neglect of Jesus’ instructions about this subject.
    In Mark 9 Jesus said (New Jerusalem translation):
    42 ‘But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith, would be better thrown into the sea with a great millstone hung round his neck.
    43 And if your hand should be your downfall, cut it off; it is better for you to enter into life crippled, than to have two hands and go to hell, into the fire that can never be put out.
    44
    45 And if your foot should be your downfall, cut it off; it is better for you enter into life lame, than to have two feet and be thrown into hell.
    46
    47 And if your eye should be your downfall, tear it out; it is better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell
    48 where their worm will never die nor their fire be put out.

    See also Matthew 18: 6-10, and if you still doubt Jesus’ meaning, please check out what Jesus says in Matthew 19:12:
    12 There are eunuchs born so from their mother’s womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.

    Even if a few pedophile priests had been castrated, everybody, including the castrated pedophile priests, would have been much better off now. Mind you in Mark 3:29 Jesus says:
    29 but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven, but is guilty of an eternal sin.

    Don’t you think a priest who molests kids in church or rectory blasphemes against the Holy Spirit?

    I agree with you about making a distinction between children before puberty and kids after puberty. Jesus’ instructions apply to children before puberty. Also note that this order is specific and applies only to those who cause the downfall of believing children in Jesus’ name. It seems not to apply to a priest who molests nonebelieving kids while masquerading as a lay person. It certainly does not apply to a lay person offending another adult.

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