Sunday Thoughts: The Catholic Church and the Abuse of Minors: The Greatest Tragedy

The news out of Pennsylvania was quite shocking. The records of six dioceses show that over 300 priests abused over a thousand youngsters. Here’s what a grand jury said: “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”

We know it is not limited to these six diocese in Pennsylvania. It has happened in every other state in our nation. It was first exposed in the Boston Archdiocese by the Boston Globe. How astonished I was at that time thinking that one priest would have abused children? I looked for reasons not to believe it . I attributed to the long-term animus of the Globe to the Catholic Church.

But like the broomstick in Disney’s Fantasia brought to life by the Sorcerer’s Apprentice the buckets of bad news kept coming. Each one containing more and more revelations of pedophilia by priests.  This plague was not limited to the United States but was world-wide tearing apart the Catholic Church in Ireland and other countries as is happening today in Chile. It bankrupted dioceses, it cast a black pall over the Church, and sadly its teachings itself were looked upon as bankrupt as people thought “your actions thunder so loud I can hardly hear what you are saying.”

Horrible was the idea of a priest abusing a child. Worse though, was the idea that it was condoned and covered-up by so many others, members of the clergy from cardinals down the ranks to other ordinary priests who knew about it and did nothing. As a long term prosecutor I was bewildered that an archbishop could know a priest committed the crime of sexually abusing a child and send him out to say Mass and to continue to interact with children. He belonged in prison not on the altar of God.

The Catholic Church was acting like the Mafia or the FBI. it was a male organization structured like a pyramid with a man on top, his lieutenants, captains and so on. Its primary mission was to protect itself over all other things; its first commandment was “Don’t Embarrass the Family,” as my book title read. In trying to protect the name of the organization it ended up destroying it. Not so much for me but for future beneficiaries. For who, not immersed in the core doctrines and beautiful teachings of the Church, would want to even give it consideration?

I find one satisfaction in this horrible of horrible situations: my father did not live to see it.  He died in 1981. He loved the Catholic Church. He held the Catholic clergy up on the highest pedestal. Many times he would tell how father so-and-so said this or that as if it had been told by the Pope himself. How devastating it would have been to him.

I was raised a Catholic. I still am. I am somewhere between being a good Catholic and a bad Catholic. I look with fondness on the Church. I was an altar boy in the South End of Boston at the Immaculate Conception Church.  In those days the Mass was in Latin. The priest would start the Mass by saying “Introibo ad altari  Dei.”  (I go to the altar of God) I would respond: “ad Deum qui laetificat juventutem meam.”  (to God who is the joy of my youth). The back and forth in Latin would continue but my first response was so true, God was the joy of my youth.

How fine it was to know He was there for me as I moved step by step through my youth. “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” He tucked me in at night; He helped me not to strike out when the bases were loaded; He gave me a boost in passing examinations for which I had not prepared.

It is a great tragedy that so many children who have been abused by priests were deprived of the comfort of God as the joy of their youth because of the vile acts of those who acted as His representative. However, the greatest of all tragedies is there will be millions of children whose families have been chased away from the Church by these dastardly acts of the clergy who will not have as I did the Hand to help them through their dark days.

12 thoughts on “Sunday Thoughts: The Catholic Church and the Abuse of Minors: The Greatest Tragedy

  1. In 2002, the RTE ( Irish equivalent of the BBC) sent a crew to review what had happened in Boston as there was an even worse situation in Dublin. On the theory we had been raised upon , “if one child is hurt, every child is vulnerable”, we joined Voice of the Faithful. The RTE interviewed us, and others far better in presenting the horror the priests had inflicted, for Irish TV. Attaching a link to a snippet of that show….and fully agree, Matt….that it is a blessing my mom didn’t live to see this!

  2. Count me in as a fallen-away Catholic. Two major steps need to be included in any significant Church reform: Priests should be permitted to marry and women should be permitted to become priests.

  3. Well said, Matt. Nothing more vile than sexually abusing children, except murdering them. Equally vile: covering up the abuse.

    I hate bullies: Federal Prosecutor bullies; Cop bullies; Thug bullies. Worse are the men who bully women. Worse still are the men who bully children physically or mentally or spiritually, depriving them of values, spiritual-god-centered upbringing.

    The lowest of the low, the worst of all the bullies are those who abuse children children sexually as, they must know that they are killing the minds and souls of the children they abuse.

    Now the FACTS: The Globe identified less than 5% of Priests “accused” of abuse over 50 years. Most of the abusers were homosexual priests abusing adolescent males; some were heterosexual priests abusing teenagers, and a very small percent of the 5% were true PEDOPHILES: men raping children. 95% of Priests were never even ACCUSED of molesting anyone; and less than 1%, as I understand it, were accused of being Pedophiles . . .some pedophiles molested scores, if not hundreds of children.

    Why the “cover up”? (1) LAWYERS advised Bishops/Cardinals to settle with victims’ parents and LAWYERS drew up CONFIDENTIALITY AGREEMENTS whereby the parents agreed to say nothing.
    (2) PSYCHOLOGISTS/PSYCHIATRISTS advised the Bishops/Cardinals that these molesting/abusing/rapist priests could be TREATED and sent back to work as priests.
    Cardinals, like Boston’s Cardinal Law, not an expert, not a practicing Lawyer, not a Psychiatrist, followed his experts’ advice.

    You and I, looking back, likely would have personally pummeled the offender, summarily fired him, immediately reported him to the police, and hope that he be executed or sent to Siberia to a prison colony.

    Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the Hierarchy did not know what to do with Homosexual Predators, Heterosexual Predators nor true Pedophiles.

    2. Most Importantly, put things in context; historically and statistically:

    (1) As I’ve read the EPIDEMIOLOGY of Psychiatric Illnesses (Pedophilia, Abuse of Minors) and the STATISTICS of Crimes Against Children and Adolescents, here are the facts:
    Per Capita, there are more Abusers of Children/Adolescents in Schools among teachers/coaches, in the Boy Scouts, in Hollywood, i n the YMCAs-Youth-Type-Clubs/Gymnasiums and in Hollywood than there are the in the Priesthood.

    When the show “To Catch a Predator” was aired for many seasons, men caught were teachers, coaches, ministers, rabbis, blue collar and white collar guys, but not one priest.

    Hollywood loves to do stories about how bad the Catholic Church scandal was . . .and it was . . .but Hollywood ignores worse scandals in Hollywood, the Boy Scouts, Public Schools, Private Schools, Gymnasiums, et cetera

    I’m still awaiting the Exposes on the Abuse of Children in other Institutions in America published with the same headlines as abuse, primarily by homosexual priests molesting adolescents and hetorosexual priests molesting teenagers, in the Catholic Church.

    Do you close your eyes and pretend it is only the Catholic Church in the past 70 years that has had abuse of minors and covered it up?

    i bet if you did a study of any institution which regularly deals with minors, you’d find equal or worse patterns of abuse. In fact, those who’ve studied the Boys Scouts and Public Education and Private Education have found worst statistics than in the Catholic Church.

    And I think we all know that Jeffrey Epstein and fugitive Hollywood Directors have engaged in abuse which for decades was covered up, and perhaps still is.

    CONCLUSION: I haven’t lost Faith in the Church, in Christianity, in the Judaeo-Christian Traditions, because less than 5% of Priests IN BOSTON were ACCUSED of molesting minors and less than 1% were ACCUSED of PEDOPHILIA . . .

    I’M GLAD A HOUSECLEANING HAS OCCURRED . . . .NOW LET’S READ THE SAME REPORTING ABOUT THE HOUSECLEANING THAT HAS OCCURRED IN HOLLYWOOD, PUBLIC SCHOOLS, THE BOYS CLUBS, OTHER YMCA-TYPE YOUTH ESTABLISHMENTS AND IN THE MEDIA AND PRESS ITSELF WHICH HAS HAD ITS OWN PROBLEMS WITH PREDATORS (of young people and new employees.)

    P.S. Right now I could name three honorable men falsely accused of sexual abuse . . . .one was acquitted in court; one was acquitted administratively; the third was acquitted after an investigation.

    So, subtract from the 5% ACCUSED that the Boston Globe reports, a CERTAIN PERCENTAGE who were FALSELY ACCUSED . . .

    oh, how the Media loves to smash the Church, and pretend that the Church alone was unique in employing predators or covering up for them . . .look at the 50 year history of Teachers or Boy Scout Leaders or Coaches or even Doctors (e.g. for gymnasts) or Hollywood Moguls . . .or Wall Street Tycoons . . . .the vile, bully abusers are out there . . .and it is all of our duty to rid society of them . . .to prosecute them and lock them away from youth for the rest of their lives . . . .

    If we’ve learned one thing: this subset of inhumanity, the small percentage of persons who are Pedophiles who prey on children, cannot be cured . . . .they cannot be rehabilitated . . .after prosecution and imprisonment, Society must ensure that they (the true Pedophiles) remain isolated from children for the rest of their days . . . .

    1. “Hollywood loves to do stories about how bad the Catholic Church scandal was . . .and it was . . .but Hollywood ignores worse scandals in Hollywood, the Boy Scouts, Public Schools, Private Schools, Gymnasiums, et cetera..”

      That’s funny. Hollywood IS a sex scandal.

  4. A seventy year investigation by the grand jury in Pennsylvania and not one indictment? One can indict a ham sandwich. The conclusion is the report is worthless ,just a political stunt. It is comparable to the decades old accusations of wrongdoing by FBI agent Paul Rico. Mere accusations no substance. Stale charges are not credible. The Statue of Limitations exists for a reason. No person can properly defend themselves on decades old accusations. How many priests have been convicted of sex crimes over the last 40 years in America? Saw a report that said about forty. If there were 50 thousand priests in the country over that period of time those convicted would amount to less than one tenth of one percent. 2. The public has been had by the hype against the Church. It is just a smear campaign. No greater percentage of clergy misconduct exists than the public at large. It is comparable to the Trump- Russia collusion hoax. The Democrats commit the crimes of conspiring with foreign agents and obtaining bogus FISA warrants and then they blame Trump and the Republicans for their own misdeeds. Similarly the Democrats ( Barney Frank, Gerry Studs, Bernie Fine, Anthony Weiner, Eliott Spitzer, Jeffrey Epstein, Harvey Weinstein, Charlie Rose, Matt Lauer, Mark Halperin. Keith Ellison and thousands of others) in the media ignore their crimes and blame others for their own acts. No movies called Spotlight 2? The rampant perversion in the press and among the Democrats. When the woman reporter Waxman exposed Harvey Weinstein as a sex predator ten years ago the NYT put the story on the spike. They buried it How many more victims were abused. 3. Saw Steve Moore on You Tube. He said Obama’s 1.8 growth over his 8 years was even weaker in his last year . In 2016 the growth was slowing to an anemic 1.6 rate. Under Trump it is double that. Crediting Obama for the Trump revival is like crediting Carter for the Reagan boom.

    1. “If there were 50 thousand priests in the country over that period of time those convicted would amount to less than one tenth of one percent.”

      Ever see a Wolverine use a napkin?

  5. MATT The GRAND JURY said NOTHING ! A predetermined prosecutor did !

    The GRAND JURY system is a FRAUD and a HOAX and ought to be abolished everywhere !

    An independent inquiry or what is commonly called an inquest or judicial charge by an independent COURT MAGISTRATE should bring charges based on actual testimony not hearsay and an opportunity for the accused to testify is the Only fair way to commence criminal charges against any person !

    AL JOHNSON

  6. Abelah :

    THAT … Abe ….is a Homage !!!

    Now just … Cling Ass Up !!!

    You are such a cunning linguist.

    That’s All Folks !!!!!!!!!!!!!

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