~~ Catholic Sex Abuse Cases ~~

~~ Catholic Sex Abuse Cases ~~

This is a pretty well-known story having received much publicity over the past few years. Catholic priests from around the world have been accused of committing sexual abuse with children. The stories of abuse are not one-time incidents as many go back literally decades. Members of the Catholic Church are still under investigation for ignoring the allegations, not reporting them to authorities, and for intentionally reassigning those that committed these crimes to other parishes.

Lest you think this is merely a few bad apples, the John Jay report in 2004 concluded that there were a total of 4,392 priests and deacons whom more than 10,000 allegations have been made32. In 2009, the Pope indicated that these numbers were in line and comparable to those found within other groups and denominations.

The Catholic Church has never been accused of being "current with the times". Their often draconian interpretation of the world has historically led to conflicts between the church and various cultures. Just prior to his death, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former papal candidate and archbishop of Milan, said "The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The pedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation." He said the Catholic Church was "200 years out of date". Today we see 60% of Catholics in the United States voicing their concern that the Church is still out of touch with the views of its flock33. In an interview with George Stephanopoulos, Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said that "Sometimes by nature, the Church has got to be out of touch with concerns, because we're always supposed to be thinking of the beyond, the eternal, the changeless. Our major challenge is to continue in a credible way to present the eternal concerns to people in a timeless attractive way. And sometimes there is a disconnect - between what they're going through and what Jesus and his Church is teaching. And that's a challenge for us."

Perhaps part of that cultural divide stems from the Catholic bishops who chose to view pedophilia as a spiritual problem requiring a spiritual solution. Instead of seeking criminal charges for the priests who committed the sexual abuse, many were recommended for psychiatric and psychological treatment. These bishops believed that those who could successfully complete the treatment, similar to alcoholics, could safely be returned to religious service. In fact, many centers like the Saint Luke Institute in Maryland were used to do just this. This is yet another example, repeated over the course of decades, illustrating the ability of religion to warp minds into thinking some very bizarre, irrational, and immoral things.

Decades later we're still learning about just how corrupt and deep the cover-ups were. Personnel files from Los Angeles showed how retired Cardinal Roger Mahony and other Roman Catholic Archdiocese leaders shielded pedophile priests while keeping details secret from parishioners. When Mahony learned of allegations that Reverend Lynn Caffoe was locking young boys in his room, videotaping their crotches, and participating in phone sex, he wrote "This is all intolerable and unacceptable to me." Clearly his moral compass was having difficulty with the situation but Mahony didn't attempt to defrock Caffoe until more than a decade later. The lawsuit against the archdiocese includes the personnel files of thirteen other Catholic officials showing internal decisions on how best to shuffle problematic priests from parish to parish. In one case, a memo to Mahony suggested that the offending clergyman be sent to a specific therapist because that therapist was also an attorney. Any information from those sessions would be legally protected by the attorney-client privilege. In another case, an exiled priest sent to the Philippines was paid a secret salary after information arose about a teen that became pregnant by either this priest or any of six other priests who were illegally having intercourse with the minor. In every one of these instances, the church leadership explicitly showed a greater interest in the church than they did for the welfare of more than 500 victims of the abuse. This wasn't a momentary lapse in judgment. This was a concerted effort to protect the church, and what's worse is that these types of examples can be found in every major city across the country.

The Reverend Benedict Groeschel is a well-known Catholic priest who hosts a weekly show on EWTN, the Catholic television network. The 79-year old host found himself in hot water during an interview with the National Catholic Register when he said that child sex abusers are often seduced by the victims and do not deserve jail time for first time indiscretions. "People have this picture in their minds of a person planning to...a psychopath. But that's not the case. Suppose you have a man having a nervous breakdown, and a youngster comes after him. A lot of the cases, the youngster, 14, 16, 18, is the seducer." Groeschel used convicted pedophile Jerry Sandusky as an example saying "Here's this poor guy Sandusky. It went on for years. Interesting. Why didn't anyone say anything? Apparently, a number of kids knew about it and didn't break the ice. Well, you know, until recent years, people did not register in their minds that it was a crime. It was a moral failure. Scandalous - but they didn't think of it in terms of legal things." This kind of thinking from a Catholic priest should strike us as both disturbing and dangerous.

What makes the Catholic sex abuse cases different from the rape and abuse that happens daily in our world is that these atrocities were committed by the very people who have the most knowledge and strongest devotion to Jesus Christ. These are the people who preach to us the morals of the Bible and then turn around and do the opposite. These are our spiritual leaders. To blame the Vatican's slow response to an issue that has been known internally to them for decades on cultural differences is both naive and dangerous - indicative of poor leadership, a serious lack of morality, and a draconian interpretation of the modern world.

If we apply this situation to the Omni Paradox, we can conclude that God either allowed this to happen because He couldn't prevent it, had no clue that it was happening, or He stood by and watched it happen with complete indifference for the safety of those children. God is often described as being all-powerful, all-knowing, and all-loving, but it seems rather obvious that those three attributes are completely unearned in each of these stories as well as millions of other daily examples.