Let me say at the outset that this is not a defense of Roman Catholicism, perverted priests, or of any manner of sexual exploitation of children. Those parties guilty of sexual abuse or assault, especially of minors, deserve punishment. But what punishment or mercy is accorded to them is up to their Maker.
A recent survey for the Wall Street Journal/NBC News concluded that 64 percent of the public thought that "Catholic priests frequently abused children." This is without question a result of the rapt attention the mainstream media has paid to this subject. Hardly a day goes by without a major newspaper or newswire keeping us up-to-date on the latest dirt in the "Catholic clergy abuse scandal." With such media saturation it is easy to see why the general populace has such a negative opinion of Catholic priests. Through thick and thin, the media hangs on, determined to bring every gory detail to the fore. It is time we stopped to consider why, and take a look at some of the statistics surrounding this issue. These figures paint a very different picture than the one being fed to us on the 6 o'clock evening news.
A recent report on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and other professionals shows that since the 1950s, approximately 1.5 percent of Catholic priests have been accused of child sexual abuse. Clearly, even one case of child sexual abuse is too many—but this demonstrates that the perception by 64% of the public that Catholic priests "frequently" abuse children does not line up with the evidence.
The report also reveals that even though the Catholic clergy has been the favorite target of the liberal media, research demonstrates that Protestant ministers actually have a higher rate of abuse. Penn State professor Philip Jenkins determined that between .2 and 1.7 percent of priests are pedophiles. But the figure among the Protestant clergy ranges between 2 and 3 percent. On top of that, a 1984 survey revealed that 38.6 percent of Protestant ministers reported sexual contact with a church member, and 76 percent knew of another minister who had had sexual intercourse with a parishioner. In the same year, a Fuller Seminary survey of 1,200 ministers found that 20 percent of theologically "conservative" pastors admitted to some sexual contact outside of marriage with a church member. The figure jumped to over 40 percent for "moderates"; 50 percent of "liberal" pastors confessed to similar behavior. Yet the Catholics are still the ones being pilloried.
But the abuse scandal gets worse. It was reported in 1991 that fully 13.5 percent of those who graduated from high school said they had sexual intercourse with a teacher. In New York City alone, a school employee sexually abuses at least one child every day. One study concluded that more than 60 percent of employees accused of sexual abuse in the New York City schools were transferred to desk jobs at district offices located inside the schools. Most of these teachers are tenured and 40 percent of those transferred are repeat offenders. The rate of sexual abuse of children by teachers in New York City is approaching 5 percent. But the priests are painted as the perverts.
Here's something else the report details that is rarely discussed in the mainstream media. Almost all the priests who abuse children are homosexuals. Dr. Thomas Plante, a psychologist at Santa Clara University, found that "80 to 90% of all priests who in fact abuse minors have sexually engaged with adolescent boys, not prepubescent children." According to the Boston Globe, "Of the clergy sex abuse cases referred to prosecutors in Eastern Massachusetts, more than 90 percent involve male victims. And the most prominent Boston lawyers for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse have said that about 95 percent of their clients are male." In a database analysis of reports on more than 1,200 alleged victims of priests identified by USA Today, 85 percent were males. In another study by USA Today, it was determined that of the 234 priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in the nation's 10 largest dioceses and archdioceses, 91 percent of their victims were males. Thus we see another problem with the way this is reported: the correct term for sexual relations between a man and a boy is pederasty, whereas the media prefers the more general term pedophilia. But calling this abuse by its proper name and explaining what it truly is—homosexual abuse of minors—is certainly unacceptable to the "delicate sensibilities" of the tolerance herd.
So on the one hand we have the liberal media nipping at the heels of the Catholic priests while ignoring a higher rate of abuse among Protestant ministers. At the same time they are launching "fair and balanced" missives against one of the best ways to protect our children: teaching them at home rather than subjecting them to state institutions that pass for schools and cover for abusers. On the other hand, they do their best to cover the fact that the vast majority of the incidences of abuse are homosexual in nature. They spotlight the priests while keeping the real issue in the shadows, and ensure that the whole show is kept out of its proper context. What gives?
Consider for a moment that the Catholic Church, even with its myriad moral, social, and doctrinal problems, is still the largest organized body of self-proclaimed followers of Christ. It is still pushing for a moral society, and is very willing to speak out against the secularization that the media is pushing. The Catholic Church is a staunch opponent of abortion and homosexuality (the behavior of some priests notwithstanding). It stands for much of what the secularists oppose, and opposes much of what the secularists are bent on achieving. The Protestants, on the other hand, are a less attractive target because they have many divisions. Increasing numbers of congregations and even entire denominations are becoming aligned with the secularist views—the Episcopalian ordination of a homosexual bishop serves as a case in point. But rest assured, if a major Protestant leader were caught in a scandal, the media would whoop with glee while riding the story into the ground.
The liberal media's selective reporting is merely a function of the current culture war. The Catholic Church has been warning against the dangers of secularism for decades, and the twisted reporting of the homosexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy is simply the secularists' way of responding. Don't be fooled into believing the liberal media has our best interests at heart when covering this story. They are pushing for social change, and the Catholic Church is one of the things standing in their way.
- David C. Grabbe
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