The Religion Report: The Pope in America

Posted by Kendall Harmon

In a recent speech Tom Doyle described the Catholic church in the United States as 'a swamp of toxic waste', and he accused the US bishops of running 'a self-serving public relations campaign by which they continue to try to flip the whole mess around, make themselves look like victims and demonise anyone who has ever challenged their collective stupidity, cruelty and total lack of compassion.'

Tom Doyle, welcome to the program. Do these repeated apologies by Pope Benedict and his decision to meet with some of the victims, represent a real breakthrough moment in the clerical abuse crisis?

Tom Doyle: I think it is a breakthrough moment in a number of ways. I think it's a breakthrough moment because he did more, said more, and communicated more truly human concern in six days that Pope John Paul II did in 25 years with regard to the issue of sexual abuse of clergy, and you have to remember that although this has been front and centre in people's concerns and in the media since 2002, the public awareness of the issue has been going on since at least 1984, starting in the United States.

Stephen Crittenden: You even were involved at that time.

Tom Doyle: I was very much involved.

Stephen Crittenden: Warning the Vatican.

Tom Doyle: Yes. And the Bishops Conference in the United States. And they knew it. And there were several major explosions since then that received a tremendous amount of media coverage over here, but they would always subside, and we'd lose the momentum somehow or other. Boston January 2002, the momentum has not stopped.

Stephen Crittenden: Was this apology something that also had to happen? Because if it hadn't happened, it would have cast a pall over the entire trip.

Tom Doyle: I think that's a good observation and I totally agree. There was a lot of skepticism when the trip was announced months ago, would he say anything about this issue? Would he do anything about this issue? Then even up to just before the trip started, the feeling was that he would probably mention it at least once, possibly once or twice. But there was skepticism that anything concrete would happen.

Stephen Crittenden: I must say I was very surprised that he actually met with victims. I wasn't expecting that at all.

Tom Doyle: I was very surprised myself.

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Filed under: * International News & CommentaryAmerica/U.S.A.* Religion News & CommentaryOther ChurchesRoman CatholicPope Benedict XVI

3 Comments
Posted April 26, 2008 at 4:01 pm [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br. Michael wrote:

Let’s back up.  This was predatory homosexual clergy praying on young men.  Are we prepared to address that simple fact?

April 26, 9:06 pm | [comment link]
2. Oriscus wrote:

No.
Because that is not a “simple fact.”
It is almost neither.
This was predatory adult clergy (themselves irreparably warped, this side of the Eschaton, by multiple factors) preying upon children and youth.

To fixate upon body parts is to fundamentally misunderstand pedophilia, and to invite further offenses.

RC patterns of clergy recruitment and spiritual formation (in many cases formerly, almost-deliberately arresting young men at a pre-pubescent stage of psychological development) bear a certain measure of responsibility for the patterns of molestation and cruelty found in parts of the US and Irish RC Church, to name where the disease has surfaced, but the blame doesn’t only belong there (though, truth be told, given the realities of this fallen world, it’s a wonder there hasn’t been *more abuse reported).

To call this a gay thing is to fundamentally misplace the wrong: most of the identified victims have been boys, it is true, but they were victimised not because they were boys, but because they were young, and therefore powerless, and they were *accessible.

Pedophilia seems to have much more to do with “innocence” (very much the dark side of our morality) and powerlessness than with adult gender.

April 27, 3:46 am | [comment link]
3. Words Matter wrote:

#2 -

“Pedophilia” is a clinical term denoting sexual attraction to pre-pubescent children.  The vast majority of victims were adolescent boys and it’s absurd to claim they weren’t victimized because they were male. Of course youth and innocence were major attractions to the adult men, but so was their sex. That’s not limiting one’s “sex” to body parts, of course, but the whole personality and social roles that go with body parts.

Moreover, transferring the blame for this from same-sex attracted adult men to the selection and formation process is equally absurd and a tactic worthy of a Catholic bishop. The blame for a sexual transgression rests with the perpetrator. Which is not to say that the selection and formation process have been without flaws, one of which is openness to same-sex attracted men, and (worse) to men (many not same-sex attracted) who promote homosexualist ideology.

NOTE: again, it must be said that this scandal was never about the offending priests, but about bishops who acted more like corporate CEOs than pastors and shepherd.  The rates of offense are less among priests than for men in general, and that is most likely true even for the same-sex attracted priests. The vast majority of priests, whatever their sexual preference, have been faithful to their vows.

April 27, 1:05 pm | [comment link]
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