Extract from discussion on article in the National Catholic Reporter (USA) entitled“Lessons From The Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis” by Suzanne Moore on 2 October 2009
Submitted by Greg Bullough (not verified) on Oct. 06, 2009.
This is really plumbing the depths of re-victimization of survivors of abuse.
Still, it is invaluable for teaching because this individual is emblematic of the attitudes which contributed to and perpetuated the scandal. To wit:
1. Sweeping generalizations. "A lot" of false accusations. So easy to say but demonstrably false, false, false. This is simply another variation on "Oh, Father McPervus is such a good pastor he would never abuse a child." Which is precisely the reaction the supporters of proven abusers routinely give. And where, pray tell, are these same nay-sayers when a half-dozen or so victims turn up with identical stories from several different locations and years apart and the abuser is convicted?
2. Impugn the credibility of the accuser because he or she exibits the very symptoms and characteristics of someone who was sexually abused as a young person. She is a drug addict and a highly dysfunctional person. Gee, how do you think she got that way. Could it be because her father, the most important and trusted man in her young life gave her drugs including heroin and sexually violated her. How would YOU be getting along if that had happened to you, Paulte?
3. It was consensual. Get real. A child cannot ever "consent" to sex with his or her parent. Even less so when that parent is responsible for supplying that child and addicting her to narcotics. Nor can a child or vulnerable adult "consent" to sexual acts with the priest who is supposed to be entrusted with the care of is or her immortal soul.
4. Dead priests cannot defend themselves. This is simple deflection. One reason that the priests pre-deceased the accusations is because their own closed society, that is their brother priests conspired to protect them for the duration of their lives. And now that nefarious activity is supposed to shelter them? What kind of justice is that? When two, three, or ten victims come forth and tell the same sorts of stories about the actions of the late "Father Smith," we should believe them. And we should take note of the fact that when said priest was grabbing them, molesting them, and raping them, that THEY couldn't defend themselves, either. But in the end, this sort of an argument is a sort of a "fog," nothing more than a thin ruse to attempt to silence the abuser survivors, from whom the author clearly doesn't want to hear. It's an abuse of the Americanist "innocent until proven guilty," which refers to a system which the clergy and the hierarchy corrupted in order to protect their brethren until there was no longer any way to prove guilt. It's related to the Irish "Don't speak ill of the dead" which in this case really means "Don't bother me with the Truth, it's too hard to hear and my right to not be upset trumps your right to have a modicum of justice." Historically, dead people are not entitled to any defense, just as they cannot be temporally punished. History is the judge and jury for them, as it was for the crimes of the deceased Fascists who reigned in Europe during the middle of the last century. Those who deny the proof of their crimes are regarded as a sort of lunatic fringe. Those who deny those of abusive clergy are coming close.
5. And who really wants to hear about that kind of filth in the media? Another head-in-the sand argument. If it weren't for the media telling about it, then I wouldn't know about it, and therefore it didn't happen. which really gets to the base of the arguments and their ultimate objective.
These are arguments given by individuals who care nothing for justice unless it's the form of justice which lets them feel good about giving their old couch to St. Vincent de Paul. When the truth is disturbing, and causes them to re-think their assumptions about the Church, then there is either knee-jerk denial or there are awkwardly constructed and convoluted arguments for why the survivors of abuse by Catholic priests and relgious ought to know their place and keep silent.
Fortunately, the voice of the survivors have now overcome that of those who would re-victimize them.
Submitted by paulte (not verified) on Oct. 07, 2009.
As far as the Phillips affair goes, she was 18 when it started with her father. The affair went on for 10 years. It was consensual except for the initial act according to her. The bottom line is that she was an adult when this started, so who cares about it? The world is filled with problems. The civil law does not recognize sexual abuse against adults unless they are mentally impaired.
And for your information, this abuse crisis started in a smaller way sometime back and was addressed by Cardinal Bernardin who was accused himself by some loony woman and a guy who later recanted the accusation. I was no fan of Bernardin's in the sense of church politics but I consider him an honorable and a good man. I have defended him against right wing nuts who are more than happy to believe accusations against people they do not like.
In any event Cardinal Bernardin (then an archbishop) set up a board out in Chicago to address this issue. What the board found is that fully 1/3 of the claims had no merit. This was a board composed of both clergy & law people.
You people claim that there are hardly any false claims. This is contradicted by the Chicago experience and common sense. I've followed this crisis and found a lot of disturbing info from the accusatory side.
What you people fail to realize or accept is that the false or even exaggerated claim can be devestating to the person accused. Some priests have even gone on to kill themselves over this mess. Does that make you people happy?
Priests truly guilty of his crime will be judged severely as scripture shows. But you & your ilk are simply engaged in a witch hunt and you have blood on your hands. I pray that you & your ilk are severely punished by God for what you have wrought because it is not justice. It is vengeance & hatred of the Church, pure & simple!
Submitted by Rory Connor (not verified) on Oct. 06, 2009.
Greg Bullough said:
"Well, if the experience of SNAP and other survivors' support organizations are any indication, the incidence of truly false accusations are truly miniscule, something like one in literally thousands. Oh, there are a number of cases of "can't be proven positively at this point in time," but rarely demonstrably false."
In Ireland between 1996 and 2004 we had a large number of allegations that children had been killed in industrial schools run by the Christian Brothers. These included accusations in a major Sunday Newspaper of mass killing ('a Holocaust') at Letterfrack in Co. Galway. Not a single claim has proved to be correct. This is not surprising as several relate to periods when NO child died of ANY cause. (I coined the phrases 'Murder of the Undead' or "Victimless Murder" allegations to describe the latter - try Googling these).
One body was exhumed and proved to be a death from natural causes but the resulting publicity resulted in dozens of child abuse claims within a couple of weeks against the institution.
The child killing allegations were not made by isolated nutcases but by major newspapers including the Religious Affairs correspondent of our "newspaper of record" The Irish Times. They were also made by leading members of child abuse organisations. They have now ceased but the people responsible have not been called to account.
Normally it is not possible to prove/disprove claims of abuse made decades after the event - even being acquittted in court does not PROVE that you are innocent. However the "Murder of the Undead" claims are demonstrably false and their use by leading members of "Victims" groups indicates that ANY claims made by the members of these groups should be treated with great caution.
Submitted by Rory Connor (not verified) on Oct. 07, 2009.
Just to clarify - you don't seem to have these "Murder of the Undead" type cases in the USA but you do have "Recovered Memory" (RM) and you used to have "Satanic Ritual Abuse"(SRA). We never had SRA in Ireland and we had ONE case where a former nun Nora Wall was convicted of child rape in 1999 - partly on RM evidence.
After she was convicted it turned out that both of her accusers had accused several other people of rape (all lay people not clergy) but the Defence was not aware of this. The two sold their story to a tabloid newpaper that printed their names for the first time and one of their previous victims recognised one of the names. This led to the collapse of the case against Nora Wall. False allegations are by no means rare!
I see that the former priest Paul Shanley, perhaps the most demonised man in America, was convicted on Recovered Memory evidence in 2005. In Ireland at that time his accuser would have been laughed out of court. In fact the case would never have got into court in the first place. Yet you have numerous convictions and huge amounts of money being paid out to "Victims" on the basis of this type of evidence. False allegations are not just a reality , they are rife in both Ireland and the USA.
Submitted by Craig B. McKee, Hong Kong (not verified) on Oct. 30, 2009.
While ostensibly castigating the New York Times for what he perceives as "catholic bashing," Archbishop Dolan ends up engaging in the same kind of finger pointing regarding the continuing clergy sexual abuse that has made Archbishop Tomasi a Vatican embarrassment at the United nations:
"New York City, N.Y., October 30 (CNA) .- The New York Times declined to publish an op-ed presented by the Archbishop of New York, Most Reverend Timothy M. Dolan, in which he made the point that the "Gray Lady" has been reporting stories with a strong anti-Catholic bias.
In his new blog on the archdiocese's website, Archbishop Dolan explains that his article was submitted in a slightly shorter form to the New York Times as an op-ed, but the Times declined to publish it.
In the blog version, Archbishop Dolan says that next to baseball, "sadly, America has another national pastime, this one not pleasant at all: anti-Catholicism."
"If you want recent evidence of this unfairness against the Catholic Church," writes the Archbishop, "look no further than a few of these following examples of occurrences over the last couple weeks."
On October 14, in the pages of the New York Times, reporter Paul Vitello exposed the sad extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn's Orthodox Jewish community.
"Yet," Archbishop Dolan observes, "the Times did not demand what it has called for incessantly when addressing the same kind of abuse by a tiny minority of priests: release of names of abusers, rollback of statute of limitations, external investigations, release of all records, and total transparency."
"Given the Catholic Church's own recent horrible experience, I am hardly in any position to criticize our Orthodox Jewish neighbors, and have no wish to do so... but I can criticize this kind of 'selective outrage,'" he insists.
The op-ed explains that "In 2004, Professor Carol Shakeshaft documented the wide-spread problem of sexual abuse of minors in our nation's public schools; while in 2007, the Associated Press issued a series of investigative reports that showed numerous examples of sexual abuse by educators against public school students."
"Both the Shakeshaft study and the AP reports were essentially ignored, as papers such as the New York Times only seem to have priests in their crosshairs," the Archbishop writes.
The Archbishop then takes issue with a New York Times October 16 "front page, above-the-fold story on the sad episode of a Franciscan priest who had fathered a child."
"Even taking into account that the relationship with the mother was consensual and between two adults, and that the Franciscans have attempted to deal justly with the errant priest's responsibilities to his son, this action is still sinful, scandalous, and indefensible."
"However," he writes, "one still has to wonder why a quarter-century old story of a sin by a priest is now suddenly more pressing and newsworthy than the war in Afghanistan, health care, and starvation–genocide in Sudan."
"No other cleric from religions other than Catholic ever seems to merit such attention," he charges.
Then, on October 21, the Archbishop recounts, "the Times gave its major headline to the decision by the Vatican to welcome Anglicans who had requested union with Rome."
"Fair enough. Unfair, though, was the article's observation that the Holy See lured and bid for the Anglicans.
"Of course, the reality is simply that for years thousands of Anglicans have been asking Rome to be accepted into the Catholic Church with a special sensitivity for their own tradition," he explains.
Nevertheless, the Archbishop of New York says the "most combustible example" was "an intemperate and scurrilous piece" on the opinion pages of the Times by Maureen Dowd, a 57-year-old alumna of Catholic University of America who has a history of anti-Catholic bias.
"In a diatribe that rightly never would have passed muster with the editors had it so criticized an Islamic, Jewish, or African-American religious issue, she digs deep into the nativist handbook to use every anti-Catholic caricature possible, from the Inquisition to the Holocaust, condoms, obsession with sex, pedophile priests, and oppression of women, all the while slashing Pope Benedict XVI for his shoes, his forced conscription -- along with every other German teenage boy -- into the German army, his outreach to former Catholics, and his recent welcome to Anglicans."
Describing the current visitation of women religious by Vatican representatives as "the matter that triggered the spasm" of Dowd, Archbishop Dolan says that it "is well-worth discussing, and hardly exempt from legitimate questioning." "But her prejudice, while maybe appropriate for the Know-Nothing newspaper of the 1850's, the Menace, has no place in a major publication today."
"I do not mean to suggest that anti-Catholicism is confined to the pages New York Times," writes Archbishop Dolan, who also admits that "the Catholic Church is not above criticism."
"We Catholics do a fair amount of it ourselves. We welcome and expect it. All we ask is that such critique be fair, rational, and accurate, what we would expect for anybody. The suspicion and bias against the Church is a national pastime that should be 'rained out' for good."
The Archbishop of New York, also an alumnus of the Catholic University of America with a doctorate in Church History, writes that "my own background in American history should caution me not to hold my breath."
"Then again, yesterday was the Feast of Saint Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes."
The full version of Archbishop Dolan's column is available at: http://www.archny.org/news-events/columns-and-blogs/blog---the-gospel-in....