Sex Abuse BibliographyApril 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Tags: Archbishop Buti Tlhagale, Boy Scouts and sex abuse, Boy Scouts of America, Brendan Callaghan SJ, Catholic clergy sex abuse, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope John Paul II, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Johannesburg, Ross Douthat, Thinking Faith the On-Line Journal of the British Jesuits, Vatican
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.