A Breach of Trust... (When Teachers Molest)


#1

usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/15/a-breach-of-trust-teachers-having-sex-with-students/14144641/

This is an interesting story and a perspective that the author herself doesn’t quite seem to fully grasp. For 15 years, the media has been telling the world that the Catholic Church has a sex scandal problem and totally missed the deeper story. The real story isn’t that there are sexual deviants in the catholic priesthood, but that sexual deviants are everywhere, EVEN in the catholic priesthood. This is a civilizational crisis, not a catholic church crisis. Totally missed in the media and by most of the public.

What this article demonstrates is that while what the bishops did in trying to hush up individual events is totally wrong, it isn’t at all unique. While wrong, it’s actually the tendency of ALL administrators and the blunders and mis-steps that the Church has been excoriated for continue to be “business as usual” in the public school system. Contrast this with the ongoing media campaign to smear us as if this were a peculiarly catholic problem.

The fact that the public, media and leadership seem uninterested in pursuing vigorous and comprehensive reforms, reporting mechanisms and accountability for OTHER organizations demonstrably having their own sexual abuse problems (often worse than ours) suggests that the tragedy and associated media firestorm was less about genuine outrage over the suffering of the victims and more about gleeful opportunity to discredit the catholic church in a time of moral upheaval and controversy.

I still get people asking me if I feel safe with my kids in catholic schools, while theirs get put on a bus and not seen again for 8 hours with little to no accountability for wrongdoing. Makes me crazy.


#2

A wise and true post.


#3

I have seen some begrudging recognition of the nationwide problem of abusive teachers.

What this article demonstrates is that while what the bishops did in trying to hush up individual events is totally wrong, it isn’t at all unique. While wrong, it’s actually the tendency of ALL administrators and the blunders and mis-steps that the Church has been excoriated for continue to be “business as usual” in the public school system. Contrast this with the ongoing media campaign to smear us as if this were a peculiarly catholic problem.

The valid criticism is that the Church is significantly more monolithic in its governing structure than the public school system. Thousands of local school boards operate in a near complete vacuum from each other, while each diocese is sworn to obedience to the pope. Each bishop has immediate authority over who he employees as active priests, where as schools have layers of bureaucracy that make accountability difficult.

Neither situation is acceptable. NO CHILD SHOULD BE MOLESTED. EVER. Those credibly accused of sexual abuse should be swiftly isolated and justly investigated.

The fact that the public, media and leadership seem uninterested in pursuing vigorous and comprehensive reforms, reporting mechanisms and accountability for OTHER organizations demonstrably having their own sexual abuse problems (often worse than ours) suggests that the tragedy and associated media firestorm was less about genuine outrage over the suffering of the victims and more about gleeful opportunity to discredit the catholic church in a time of moral upheaval and controversy.

I do see frequent coverage of teacher molestations, though the interconnectedness of the problem is not necessarily discussed.

I still get people asking me if I feel safe with my kids in catholic schools, while theirs get put on a bus and not seen again for 8 hours with little to no accountability for wrongdoing. Makes me crazy.

These people are *******s. They are either willfully ignorant or taking cheap shots. I do sympathize with those who are genuinely grieved by the church’s lack of response.

I am personally mortified that so many children were harmed, and that bishop’s took ******, ineffective steps to remove or report abusive bishops. Some of this was mitigated by ****** psychology that thought abusers could be treated and successfully work in close quarters with children again. Some actions were aggravated by incompetence. I do not condone any action that exposes children or teenagers to abuse.

I do, however, deeply love the church, and want nothing more than these issues to be justly addressed, and effective measures practiced to keep it from being repeated.


#4

I see that you’re trying to be charitable and understand the perspective of the critics, but it’s really not a valid criticism. The pope is the head of the church, but in many ways he has far less direct authority over the internal diocesan policy decisions made by particular bishops than the US Secretary of Education has over school district policies. True, the pope has the “nuclear option” of deposing a bishop, but that’s an action he must rarely use because it’s use has severe side effects. By contrast the Federal education department can and does issue edicts all the time that must be obeyed or the federal money spigot can be turned off - a stick that can be swung as often as needed.

And yet the pope is frequently vilified as incompetent or complicit in the sex abuse coverup while the government oversight of the school system gets a nearly free pass? Nope, I’m not buying the catholic church as “more monolithic” than the hierarchical governmental system of the USA.


#5

That is not quite what I meant, but it is a subtle point that I might not have fully expressed. The church is monolithic, both at the local and global level. The Pope is an absolute monarch, restrained only by divine and natural law, and the bishop possesses a similar authority locally. The Pope does indeed possess the authority to directly remove an abusive priest, but it is physically impossible for him to do so. He is in Rome, and there are 2800 dioceses and 400,000 priests all over the world.

Within each diocese, a priest may only serve with the local Bishop’s permission, implicit or explicit. A priest who is suspected of being an abuser could be unilaterally suspended by the bishop. If the allegations are substantiated, the priest could be dismissed by the bishop and removed from ministry. Abusive priests from another diocese could be barred from practicing, even if not suspended by his bishop. A warning to other dioceses could keep a dismissed priest out of ministry entirely. The bishop entirely has the authority to prevent an abusive priest from having access to children within the church ministry.

As a private citizen, he may still have other opportunities for abuse, but the bishop simply cannot control that. This is why cooperation with civil authorities is necessary.

And yet the pope is frequently vilified as incompetent or complicit in the sex abuse coverup while the government oversight of the school system gets a nearly free pass? Nope, I’m not buying the catholic church as “more monolithic” than the hierarchical governmental system of the USA.

The pope need only be contacted should priest wish to be removed from the clerical state and/or be dispensed from his vow of celibacy. This step is far removed from the prevention of abuse, and is meaningless when the media publishes that it took years for an abusive priest to be defrocked. It is meaningless, unless the bishop passed the buck, and did not personally remove the priest long before it got to that step.

(The pope should also of course be contacted immediately to help prevent transfer to an unwitting diocese.)

True, the pope has the “nuclear option” of deposing a bishop, but that’s an action he must rarely use because it’s use has severe side effects. By contrast the Federal education department can and does issue edicts all the time that must be obeyed or the federal money spigot can be turned off - a stick that can be swung as often as needed.

The Pope has demonstrated the monolithic nature of the Church by issuing an edict mandating that each bishop’s conference develop an abuse response and prevention plan, and then approving each plan to ensure justice and comprehensiveness. This is simply not possible in the United States. For one, the United States consists of 50 sovereign entities that each regulate criminal and civil matters. The Federal government can only offer incentives for each State to mandate such a plan.

However, the monolithic versus plurific nature of the church versus schools is of little importance to actually preventing abuse, as each and every teacher, principle, and administrator personally has a duty to stop abuse (as does each and every cleric, staff or volunteer in the Church). The idea that that it is “fair” that the church receive substantial criticism is only because it is a substantial organization, not directly comparable to public schools. Both the Catholic Church and Public Schools as a whole deserve substantial criticism, but the criticism must be tailored to accurately reflect the underlying organization. There needs to be substantial improvement in this regard for both sides.


#6

*Yes, sexual deviants are everywhere. One huge difference, though, is that teachers, scouting leaders, coaches, etc. who abuse are not representing themselves to their victims as Jesus Christ. That compounds the evil of clerical sexual abuse, IMHO, and of those who minimize it.


#7

Did a lot of the moving around of offending priests to other parishes have to do with the lack of knowledge about adults who molest young people?

It is a deep-rooted problem, and merely for a bishop to hear the words “I won’t do that again” from an offending priest, and then just giving them a slap on the wrist and sending them elsewhere was thought to be sufficient.


#8

The Catholic Church in the US had a big problem (although the rate of incidence was similar to other religious institutions, but received more publicity for it). According to the Catholic League (in their letter to Gov. Jerry Brown last year), there were 7 credible accusations against 40,000+ priest in the last 6 years. That is approx 0.02%. While that is 0.02% too high, you won’t find an organization that has done more to fix the problem than the Catholic Church in the US.

Only if the public school systems (and teachers unions) would do something…


#9

Plus, Im sure the catholic church was not the only ones who tried to sweep this kind of stuff under the rug, so to speak, or somehow hide the fact that incidents like this even happened, Id bet alot of public schools ( as well as other public places), have been guilty of NOT getting police involved too over the years…in fact, Id say it still happens to a degree, payoffs are probably alot more common though.


#10

In 2004, Hofstra University professor Dr. Carol Shakeshaft published a report for the United States Department of Education titled “Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature.” It was presented to Congress as part of the No Child Left Behind Act. In it, Shakeshaft stated:
As a group, these studies present a wide range of estimates of the percentage of U.S. students subject to sexual misconduct by school staff and vary from 3.7 to 50.3 percent. Because of its carefully drawn sample and survey methodology, the AAUW report that nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career presents the most accurate data available at this time.
According to a study she did of abuse complaints against Catholic priests over a five decade period she concluded that “…the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”
breitbart.com/Big-Journalism/2010/02/13/The-Child-Molester-Scandal-That-Isnt–What-the-MSM-Doesnt-Report


#11

But you don’t hear about this because teachers don’t speak out against abortion, embryonic stem cell research, euthanasia, and same sex unions…so predatory teachers seem to get a free pass.


#12

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