Except for delayed responses from the highest echelons of the Catholic Church, responses to the scandal in Pennsylvania by the clergy have been decidedly ugly. The Church is working on a master class in fallacious rhetoric, including scapegoating, whataboutism, statistical misrepresentation, legalisms, and outright fabrications. Nearly all are present in just a few short sentences offered us by Taylor Marshall, a layperson and relatively recent convert with a Ph.D. in religious studies and apologist for the Church. His comments, helpfully relayed by the Friendly Atheist, are summarized by him thus:
Denial of Christian Faith. These clerics are secretly atheists, agnostics, or Satanists who see the Church as a social justice network that pays well and provides a lifestyle of insurance, income, retirement and unquestioned access to compromised men and vulnerable children.
Homosexuality. The 2004 John Jay Report publicized that 80% of priest abuse victims are male. The orientation of abuse was overwhelming homosexual According to James Martin and Larry Stammer, 15–58% of American Catholic priests are homosexual in orientation. Father Dariusz Oko of Poland has suggested that 50% of the bishops in the United States are homosexual.
Evolution of the Mega-Diocese. Since 1900, the concept of the Catholic diocese has morphed into something that would not be recognized by Christians of the medieval period, and certainly not by the Church Fathers.
Atheists, agnostics, Satanists, and homosexuals: these are the people responsible for the epidemic of child abuse in the church. It brings to mind a comment made to the Catholic Bishop's Review Board that
[ if ] you're conservative, homosexuality is the problem; if you're liberal, celibacy is the problem. So you tell me who you are, and I'll tell you what the problem is.
It was this organization, called the The National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People [ established ] by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which sponsored the "2004 John Jay Report" mentioned by Mr. Marshall, above. It does, in fact, claim that over 81% of the children abused were male. Mr. Marshall does not mention scientific research which finds that there is, in fact, no correlation:
The empirical research does not show that gay or bisexual men are any more likely than heterosexual men to molest children. This is not to argue that homosexual and bisexual men never molest children. But there is no scientific basis for asserting that they are more likely than heterosexual men to do so... Many child molesters cannot be characterized as having an adult sexual orientation at all; they are fixated on children.
While the report sponsored by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops was carried out by the reputable John Jay College, it's sample base was asked to provide evidence against interest:
It was clear from the outset that the study team would not itself have access to the confidential Church files, nor did we have sufficient time to conduct a study that would reach all 50 states including every diocese and religious community within the United States, and cover a 52-year timeframe. Given this framework, the research team decided to collect the data necessary by constructing survey instruments and mailing them to each diocese, eparchy and religious institute in the country.
The data came from Church, and the study was paid for by the Church. Now these facts alone do not invalidate the findings of the study - far from it. But they do raise questions about intent and methodology. We know, for example, that the proportion of abuse cases which is reported is a small one in comparison to those cases which goes unreported. Everyone involved in the study is markedly concerned with the prospect of false accusations, so unsubstantiated reports were not used as evidence. Neither the John Jay report nor the USCCB's commentary references scientific findings on the incidence of homosexuality in male to male child abuse, but both spend quite a lot of words connecting homosexuality to the crimes. That there is a correlation goes without question, and that this suggests causation hardly needs be said, so it is implied instead.
But there is no solid evidence suggesting even correlation between clerical child abuse and homosexuality. That 81% of the victims ( in the Church's telling ) were males and 100% of the abusers were is a high proportion indeed, but what of the availability of victims to the abusers? I have so far been unable to find mention of this dimension in the report, and given evidence that male to male abuse is not necessarily indicative of homosexual preferences by the abuser, there simply is not enough information to confidently assert a correlation of a disproportional involvement of homosexuals in the crimes, as opposed to a much less surprising disproportional rate of male to male abuse.
Mr. Marshall is simply making this up, as is Bill Donohue and Robert Morlino, among many, many others. A more sophisticated response is offered by the One Holy, Catholic, Apostolic channel here at Disqus:
So, please refrain from posting articles that simply allege accusations. If it hasn't been proved in a court of law or ecclesiastical court where the accused can offer rebuttal and cross examine accusers...it's just gossip and won't be allowed on this channel.
I'm sorry if some will be upset by this. But I cannot enable or be the vehicle of gossip and innuendo. I will have to answer to the Lord what I have done on line, including what I've allowed on this channel.
Let us not speak of those accusations which cannot be, or have not been, proved. How reasonable it seems to demand such a standard in protection of the innocent, that is those priests for whom allegations of child abuse have not been proved in court. And on what evidence might that proof, or disproof as it might be, rely? I encourage anyone who is interested in the question to watch the truly horrifying Netflix documentary The Keepers. Such a standard is nothing less than an invitation to participate in the coverup of crimes against children.
This isn't the ugliest response to be found here at Disqus, however. As far as I have seen so far, that distinction applies to Johan Abrahams OP over at the Religion Channel, in which he says:
Seems the RCC is very much in discussion lately. They have been found out to be "naughty".
They are covering up "child abuse".
And the heart of this whole problem is their doctrine.
Note the euphemism of "naughty" for the fact of child rape, and the scare quotes around it and the term child abuse, as if there was any doubt what the priests have done is, in fact, abuse.
Catholics and others who respond this way to the tragic scandal unfolding around the world are doing nothing less than participating in the cover up of very serious crimes against children. But they must do, since to take a more scientific view of the problem, in which incidences of pedophilia and pederasty are more related to the abusers own childhood victimization, or can be found in a relatively stable biological distribution ( just like homosexuality ) challenges the fundamental idea of man's "fallen" nature, and of the function and cause of "sin". If the Church cannot find a way to justify its attitudes towards these horrors in a way which is consistent with science, and if it continues to treat scientific findings as if they were an attack on Christianity itself, then it will indeed have found itself in an existential conflict. They would pit science and sexual abuse toward children against the Church and its doctrine. They offer false solutions to false problems, and literally place Christ in the service of rapists, as it is by his supposed authority that these clerics position themselves to abuse children.
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