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Myth Buster

The current issue of Catalyst, the newsletter of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, lists several myths regarding priestly sexual abuse, myths that the media repeat ad infinitum:

. . . . . . . . . .

Myth: Children have been the main victims of priestly sexual abuse.

Fact: Since more than 95 percent of all the victims of priestly sexual abuse, as reported by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, are not prepubescent, that means that adolescents have been the primary victims.

Myth: Pedophile priests have been the problem.

Fact: Homosexual priests have been the problem. Proof: 81 percent of the victims have been male, and more than 95 percent have been postpubescent. When males have sex with postpubescent males, it is called homosexuality.

Myth: The problem is on-going.

Fact: The homosexual scandal took place mostly between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s. In the last ten years, the average number of credible accusations made against 40,000 priests is in the single digits.

Myth: The Church’s repressive teachings on sexuality are the problem.

Fact: It was liberals outside the Church who pushed for the sexual revolution, and it was liberals in the Church who abetted the revolution in the seminaries. Moreover, it was liberals who promoted therapy as the way to deal with molesters, instead of using punitive measures.

Myth: The Church has done nothing about the problem.

Fact: Pope Benedict XVI made it more difficult for active homosexual priests to enter the priesthood, thus getting directly to the source of the problem. Also, steps have been taken in every diocese to ensure that anyone who works for the Church must participate in a training program aimed at curtailing the abuse of minors.

. . . . . . . . . .

Especially interesting to me is the fact that, over the last decade, “the average number of credible accusations made against 40,000 priests is in single digits.” I presume this means the yearly average. If so, then fewer than ten priests each year are accused credibly. That’s about one in 4,000.

It would be interesting to compare that to credible accusations levied against public school teachers. I’m quite sure the proportion is higher for them. There are 300,000 public school teachers here in California. A ratio of one in 4,000 would require only 75 credible accusations yearly.

I suspect that number is exceeded statewide because every few weeks or so there is another newspaper article about some local teacher being charged with sexual abuse of students. That’s just in the San Diego area, which has about ten percent of the state’s population.

When the topic is abusive priests, the media (and people who believe the media) say, “This wouldn’t have happened if priests didn’t have to be celibate.” But the abuse happens in greater proportions among groups where celibacy isn’t required, so celibacy can’t be the cause.

(As Mark Shea, tongue in cheek, likes to say: “If only public school teachers were allowed to marry!”)


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