Andrew Brown would have you believe that “that the frequency of child abuse among Catholic priests is not remarkable”. He quotes a study from 2002 that shows about 4% of priests and deacons were sexually abusive between 1950 and 2000 in the United States and about half a percent in Britain. Note that this statistic is about abusers.
In comparison, Brown writes, “the most pessimistic survey finds that 27% of American women and 16% of men had “a history of childhood sexual abuse”; while the the most optimistic had 12.8% of women and 4.3% of men.” This statistic is about those abused.
See? The stats for catholic priests and deacons looks to be much lower so we are to assume that the difference between 4% of morally superior clergy who sadly and unfortunately abuse and perhaps up to 27% of women and 16% of men abused as children must have received that abuse from some other “profession”, leading us to the conclusion:
Certainly the safeguards against paedophilia in the priesthood are now among the tightest in the world. That won’t stop a steady trickle of scandals; but I think that objectively your child is less likely to be abused by a Catholic or Anglican priest in the west today than by the members of almost any other profession.
What absolutely disgusting, dismissive, and apologist tripe. There isn’t a shred of evidence that the church has any meaningful and effective safeguards against pedophilia in the priesthood, nor do I think victims would appreciate their personal and profound betrayal from a trusted and supposedly god-besotted cleric being described as a mere “trickle” of scandal. What Mister Brown thinks and presents to us, his dear readers, is most definitely not objective whatsoever.
Father Bill Carney may very well be a typical example of one of the 4% Brown is willing to concede is a pedophile from the ranks of the catholic clergy, “a serial sexual abuser of children, male and female,” known to his bishop and local police and named in complaints and suspicions “in respect of 32 individuals.” Also known was that “there is evidence he abused many more children”. A yes… another “trickle” comes to light.
So what did the Church do about this known pedophile?
We now know that complaints about Carney were diverted away from the Irish criminal justice system to Bishop James Kavanagh, a man described by the Murphy Report as someone with “a soft spot for Carney.” Kavanagh did what he could to protect Carney from the law to avoid scandal for the Church.
One conscientious policeman, praised in the Murphy Report, did investigate complaints and they came to court. But the press were kept away as Carney pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault and got probation. Six families were paid compensation and Carney was soon back working, with access to children.
Isn’t that a lovely outcome? Yes there was a bit of slap and tickle one could possibly call assault but nothing too severe… other than the suicide of one “trickled” young man. Nothing to keep this priestly fellow away from passing through the strictest of catholic safeguards and continuing to provide more “trickle of scandal.”
What’s that you say? Not severe enough a punishment? You mean Carney didn’t stop ‘abusing’ children, catholic code for the raping of children? How surprised are we that he continued?
In its 40 pages on Carney, the Murphy report said that his was one of the worst cases the commission investigated and that the Church’s handling of his case was “nothing short of catastrophic”.
“It was inept, self-serving and for the best part of 10 years displayed no obvious concern for the welfare of children,” the report said. In 1992, the Church convicted Carney internally, under Canon law, of child sexual abuse. But this compulsive paedophile refused to leave the parish house. So the Church paid him £30,000 to go away.”
Let’s see: one priest, perhaps hundred of victims: one abuser, many abused, and the church has no problem paying compensation… to the abuser!
Let’s revisit our apologetic Brown’s statistics, shall we? 4% of priests abusers, 27% women and 16% men victims. Might each and every abused victim come directly from the 4% of catholic priests who abuse? Probably not. Most likely not. Almost assuredly not. But what’s glaringly obvious to anyone who has an honest eye for detail and even half a brain is that each abusive priest leaves a trail of numerous victims. Just because the percentage of men and women abused (taken mostly from social service surveys, let us note, which should reflect a clientele in need of social services quite possibly from life altering encounters like sexual abuse from a trusted priest!) is greater than the percentage of abusers from the priestly profession does not mean that some greater percentage must come from “other professions.” In fact, there is pretty plausible evidence that much abuse of children comes primarily from family members, so to conclude as Brown does that the risk of abuse is lower from the priestly caste than “other professions” is completely unjustified from anything written in his column or from any data I can find. Simply put, Brown’s thinking here is sloppy, wishful, dismissive, and deeply apologetic on the church’s behalf. Also, his ill-formed, unjustified, implausible opinion is grossly misleading and insulting to those in other professions. No other profession stands accused of any kind of long-term, organized, and officially sanctioned cover-ups for its membership to abuse children and avoid criminal prosecution. The catholic church does have exactly that history, with mounting evidence for its active culpability and long-term collusion from those at the highest levels of its leadership for protecting abusers within its ranks.
The Browns of this world may have faith that it is right and proper to protect, excuse, mitigate, and apologize for this child-raping organization. But let’s hope his kind of faith grows weaker as his numbers grow fewer. There is some hope. Each of us can do our part and make sure that we honour the victims of abuse at the hands of priests and turn these “trickles of scandals” into a fully justified reason to condemn this disreputable organization from having anything to do with our children. The catholic church does not deserve our faith.