Apologetics: How can you Apologise for abuse?


#1

There was a recent mention on the news of 700 or so more cases of credible child abuse committed by Catholic priests, mostly occurring several years ago, I think. Nary a mention of it anywhere on these forums, though (but plenty of posts against gay marriage and in favor of global warming, etc).

How can the enormous problem of priest sexual abuse be understood? What kind of church is the Catholic church, if a substantial minority of its priests are child abusers? Who would want to join the Catholic church? If this is really the One Truth Faith that Comes to Us from the Apostles, why are there so many perverts preaching its word? Every single instance of abuse I hear about makes me question my Catholic faith. And what about the abused? Surely the image of Father O’Malley touching their private parts understandably would discourage them from retaining their Catholic faith. If the abused no longer believe, are they going to hell? Why would God let his One True Faith mess up people like that?


#2

[quote=assassin99]There was a recent mention on the news of 700 or so more cases of credible child abuse committed by Catholic priests, mostly occurring several years ago, I think. Nary a mention of it anywhere on these forums, though (but plenty of posts against gay marriage and in favor of global warming, etc).

How can the enormous problem of priest sexual abuse be understood? What kind of church is the Catholic church, if a substantial minority of its priests are child abusers? Who would want to join the Catholic church? If this is really the One Truth Faith that Comes to Us from the Apostles, why are there so many perverts preaching its word? Every single instance of abuse I hear about makes me question my Catholic faith. And what about the abused? Surely the image of Father O’Malley touching their private parts understandably would discourage them from retaining their Catholic faith. If the abused no longer believe, are they going to hell? Why would God let his One True Faith mess up people like that?
[/quote]

Were supposed to forgive, it’s a command of Jesus, not seven times but seventy times seven.
If your going to be selective then there is no convincing, it’s up to the victims to find it in their hearts to forgive, and the abusers to apoligize, and the wider community to pray for those abused and the abusers.
Include ALL in the equation when you only include half the truth, the percentage in the Church is very low, but in a Church the size of the Catholic Church that can be a lot.
And also since it big-brother Catholic Church then kick it in the teeth, but bury others.
Jesus prayed to the Father on the cross “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” if we want to be a follower of Christ, then we have to do likewise, otherwise wer’e a follower in name only.

And I’m sure you know what people are called that have only the outward signs of faith, Jesus reffered to them, clean on the outside but inside filthy.
The sex scandals are our cross and something we have to deal with, it’s a good thing actually to bring everything into the light, and disperse the darkness, just like a previous Sunday Gospel.

As for the fall of others shattering our faith, well the parable of the sower should teach us there, if you faith is in shallow soil, then when trouble comes it will be swept away in the storm.

To err is human, to forgive Devine----PJP II

Interesting username assassin99. :hmmm:


#3

Hello,
The subject you bring up is an important one.

How can the enormous problem of priest sexual abuse be understood?

My first thought is that it can’t be understood. Why do people do sinful things?

Who would want to join the Catholic church? If this is really the One Truth Faith that Comes to Us from the Apostles, why are there so many perverts preaching its word?

You’ve answered why. I live very close to where a tragedy took place a few years ago. A preist murdered two people in an attempt to cover up the child abuse he was doing or had done. Later he commited suicide. A sad thing all around for our community, the families and for the preist.

However, the Sarcaments that the preist administered are still valid. The teachings he taught are still valid. Gods truth was still heard during his homilies. The peoples faith and hope in Jesus is still there and the Church doctrines still holds true. The Church was established by Christ…the people in the church are still subject to temptations as anyone.
If my faith in Jesus thru the Church was hinged on whether each person in that church was perfect, free of sin, free of doubt and unblemished; then because of Judas we wouldn’t have a church. After all look at Peter and Paul. Both denied Jesus at somepoint in there lives, one rebuked the Lord while one was party to murder. I’d say the church is full of sinners, but it’s still the Church and what is taught is still true.

why are there so many perverts preaching its word?

Good question!
Pervert - One that is perverted. A person given to sexual perversion.

Pervert - 1.To lead astray: corrupt;2. To divert to a wrong purpose: misappy.

Even in the early days of the Church we see people perverting the truth.
1Ti 1:3 When I was leaving for Macedonia, I asked you to stay on in Ephesus and warn certain people there to stop spreading their false teachings.
1Ti 1:4 You needed to warn them to stop wasting their time on senseless stories and endless lists of ancestors. Such things only cause arguments. They don’t help anyone to do God’s work that can only be done by faith.

There are abuses in every age of the Church. Do not be swayed from the true chruch, for it obtained it teaching from Christ and thru fallible people. Many ‘other’ churches have perverted God’s truth by teaching false doctrines. And sexual abuse does accur elsewhere; not taking away from the abuses within our church. All are terrible and need to be corrected thru prayer, better education at the seminary level, an attitude towards a ‘culture of life’ not death and faith in Jesus.

Peace and Grace to you,

Scott


#4

[quote=assassin99] There was a recent mention on the news of 700 or so more cases of credible child abuse committed by Catholic priests, mostly occurring several years ago, I think. Nary a mention of it anywhere on these forums, though (but plenty of posts against gay marriage and in favor of global warming, etc).
[/quote]

Do a search, you’ll find several threads on this.

[quote=assassin99] How can the enormous problem of priest sexual abuse be understood?
[/quote]

It’s not an “enormous problem” in terms of numbers. In terms of human life even one is “enormous”.

[quote=assassin99] What kind of church is the Catholic church, if a substantial minority of its priests are child abusers?
[/quote]

The same Catholic Church where all of His Apostles deserted Him, the same Catholic Church where the leader He established for His Church abandoned and denied Him, the same Catholic Church where one of His Apostles betrayed Him to death. Humans in the Church have always sinned, have always fallen short, but, after His resurrection, where did He go? To what group? Did He go out and find new Apostles or did He return to those who had abandoned Him? Don’t confuse the faith of the Church with the weak humans who are in it.


#5

[quote=assassin99] Who would want to join the Catholic church?
[/quote]

To find the true Church which our Lord Jesus the Christ established. Even with its corrupt humans.

[quote=assassin99] If this is really the One Truth Faith that Comes to Us from the Apostles, why are there so many perverts preaching its word?
[/quote]

Again, ther aren’t “so many” as in a huge number. Even one is too many. The huge number is the number of good priests.

[quote=assassin99] Every single instance of abuse I hear about makes me question my Catholic faith.
[/quote]

Don’t confuse the faith with the weakness of humans. My sister used this excuse for years to remain away from the Church. Who are you hurting by remaining away from the true Church Jesus established? Remaining away rewards Satan for his work, it makes the devil victorious in your life, don’t allow Satan to win.


#6

Jesus is Divine. Jesus’ bride, His Church is human. Humans sin. Sometimes dreadful horrific sins. Which is why we need Jesus.


#7

Don’t Leave Peter Because Of Judas.


#8

I recently heard of a study, though I cannot give you a direct quote or source, (I’ll keep an eye open for it) that implies that 1/3 of all females, and 1/4 of all males in the US have been at one time or another sexually molested.

If this is the case, the the victims number around 90 million!

Now if one considers the number of “accused” priests, roughly several hundred, then how does this become specifically a “Catholic” problem?

Thal59


#9

[quote=Thal59]Now if one considers the number of “accused” priests, roughly several hundred, then how does this become specifically a “Catholic” problem?

Thal59
[/quote]

It’s not. However, because of the prominent media exposure of the cases involving the Catholic Church, many seem to think so. Unfortunately this abhorrent problem plagues non-Catholic churches as well:

We would be naïve and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behavior know no ecclesial or other boundaries." Rt. Rev. William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, Good Friday Sermon, 2002.

reformation.com/


#10

Abuse of any kind is a horrible thing.

There should be no coverups, no half-hearted attempts to reform someone and restore them to serving in the church, no white-washing of this problem of anykind IMHO
Jesus said it would be better if a millstone were hung around the neck of someone that harms a child and that they were cast into the sea than what else they are facing from God.

Removing them from the priesthood is the safest and most honest thing that can be done.
They have abused not only a person, but the authority of the church and tainted the image they are supposed to be representing.

What happens in some people’s lives as a result of child abuse is devastating spritually and emotionally. Just saying " we’re sorry" doesn’t undo it. The victim is the only one with the right to say when a person is forgiven in their eyes. (in God’s eyes, that may be different- only he knows the heart)

Anyone can commit great evil if they let their heart become filled with evil - and that is what child abuse is: EVIL

This may not be peculiar to the priesthood only, but the tolerance level should be ZERO!

Why does this happen? Is it a stain upon the church?

It happens because priests (or any child abuses) put their will in front of God’s and fulfil their lusts.
God doesn’t want it, so if it reflects on the Church, it only does so in as far as it is tolerated by those in authority in the Church.
It isn’t God’s fault these people sin, but we don’t need to make it worse by sweeping it under the rug.

my two cents


#11

[quote=Thal59]I recently heard of a study, though I cannot give you a direct quote or source, (I’ll keep an eye open for it) that implies that 1/3 of all females, and 1/4 of all males in the US have been at one time or another sexually molested.

If this is the case, the the victims number around 90 million!

Now if one considers the number of “accused” priests, roughly several hundred, then how does this become specifically a “Catholic” problem?

Thal59
[/quote]

It’s a Catholic problem because despite what “they” profess, they know the Catholic Church is the true Church and even if there is only one case it is horrific. The priest is held as a symbol of the Church, he is our confidant, he is our family. For one of our family, especially one who is supposed to lead, to betray our trust, especially when we’re talking about the abuse of a child is shocking. As a father I can’t even fathom sexually abusing a child, it’s inhuman. I am just thankful God has chosen to use His Church to bring this to light, perhaps people will begin to look at the real problem and the magnitude of it and address it. His Church will withstand. Pray for all the victims.


#12

Any church at any moment could be faced with an issue like this. I think the only apologizing that should be done are those who do the sin. IMO I think it is a flat out sin for one to bash another because the other persons priest committed sinned. Every man living on earth is always capable of sinning. I think prayer from ALL believers for those who were abused and those who did the abusing is the only way situations like these will be helped and healed.

When I hear of injustices in this world, I always ask these 2 questions to myself before I make the mistake to judge another-
#1"Am I a sinner struggling with the belief of God in the name of Jesus?“
OR
#2"Am I a believer in God in the name of Jesus struggling with sin?”

Ill go with #2

God Bless
<><


#13

It is so destructive, I agree we should pray for all involved

Peace


#14

[quote=assassin99]There was a recent mention on the news of 700 or so more cases of credible child abuse committed by Catholic priests, mostly occurring several years ago, I think. Nary a mention of it anywhere on these forums, though (but plenty of posts against gay marriage and in favor of global warming, etc).

How can the enormous problem of priest sexual abuse be understood? What kind of church is the Catholic church, if a substantial minority of its priests are child abusers? Who would want to join the Catholic church? If this is really the One Truth Faith that Comes to Us from the Apostles, why are there so many perverts preaching its word? Every single instance of abuse I hear about makes me question my Catholic faith. And what about the abused? Surely the image of Father O’Malley touching their private parts understandably would discourage them from retaining their Catholic faith. If the abused no longer believe, are they going to hell? Why would God let his One True Faith mess up people like that?
[/quote]

First of all, we need to understand that while such abuse is horrible, it doesn’t occur amongst priests any more frequently than among other large groups of men, including Protestant minister, Jewish Rabbis, or Scoutmasters.

Next, the great sin was not just the abuse (which was bad enough, of course) but the cover-ups. It was a failure of leadership amongst some bishops – who ought to be in prison, if there were justice.

Finally, there have been diocese (Little Rock is an example) where there has **never **been an allegation of sexual abuse. In the case of Little Rock, this is due to the work by Bishop McDonald, who established a program long ago to prevent sexual abuse. His program is now in pretty wide use amongst other diocese.


#15

[quote=assassin99]There was a recent mention on the news of 700 or so more cases of credible child abuse committed by Catholic priests, mostly occurring several years ago, I think. Nary a mention of it anywhere on these forums, though (but plenty of posts against gay marriage and in favor of global warming, etc).

How can the enormous problem of priest sexual abuse be understood? What kind of church is the Catholic church, if a substantial minority of its priests are child abusers? Who would want to join the Catholic church? If this is really the One Truth Faith that Comes to Us from the Apostles, why are there so many perverts preaching its word? Every single instance of abuse I hear about makes me question my Catholic faith. And what about the abused? Surely the image of Father O’Malley touching their private parts understandably would discourage them from retaining their Catholic faith. If the abused no longer believe, are they going to hell? Why would God let his One True Faith mess up people like that?
[/quote]

I don’t blame you whatsoever for feeling this way. The abuse cases that did occur are horrible acts by those who work in God’s name. I won’t say unforgivable, but I wouldn’t want any one of those priests serving parishes. They should be either booted out or given jobs with no interaction with young people. Zero tolerance in that regard.

I don’t blame anyone for thinking “What the heck is going on?!?” and questioning the church’s actions during the crisis.

But let’s look a bit closer at the situation. Studies have shown that the level of priestly abuse is at least even with that of the rest of society or even a little lower. That’s not an excuse, thats just fact. However, the level of priestly abuse should not be a little lower than the rest of society—it should be either astonishingly lower or even non-existent. There are different standards for priests over the rest of society, even over other religious figures, i.e. ministers, rabbis etc. Priests should be held to these standards.

Overwhelmingly the cases of abuse that have been proven true involve victims of young men or boys ages around 12-17. The perpetrators overwhelmingly have been homosexual men (priests).
The cases of what is in the general public’s mind of a priest abusing a little child are relatively rare.
Those are the facts, whether people want to discuss them or not.
Which is not to say that homosexual priests can’t be good priests, indeed almost all of them are. But many of the priests have developed as a priest in a more permissive environment seen over the last few decades, in seminary, general public life, and priestly life. They have been taught, especially at seminary, many things that are contrary to what used to be taught, especially regarding sexual “freedom” and the authority of the church (big subject).
Am I saying that “the priests were homosexual, so that answers it” ? No. I am saying it was a combination of things, all of which put personal wants first and God second.
There’s a reason that all this abuse has taken place almost exclusively in America.

Did the church handle it well? Yes and no. The church really relied on “modern” advice on a lot of this. The bishops handling these cases were told by psychologists the way to handle the problem and they took the advice. Not good. It blew up in their faces. Also, some of the bishops felt a kinship to these priests–a lot went through formation at the same time and had many of the same attitudes and beliefs.

Actions of any person or persons in the church do not make the church not the true church. We are a church of sinners, not a church of saints. But should priests be held to a much higher standard? Of course, which is why things are changing so much in seminaries and dioceses.

Who is behind this evil? Well, who is behind all evil? What better way to draw people away from the Church than to try to entice its most respected members do something horrible?


#16

[quote=Tom]It’s a Catholic problem because despite what “they” profess, they know the Catholic Church is the true Church and even if there is only one case it is horrific. The priest is held as a symbol of the Church, he is our confidant, he is our family. For one of our family, especially one who is supposed to lead, to betray our trust, especially when we’re talking about the abuse of a child is shocking. As a father I can’t even fathom sexually abusing a child, it’s inhuman. I am just thankful God has chosen to use His Church to bring this to light, perhaps people will begin to look at the real problem and the magnitude of it and address it. His Church will withstand. Pray for all the victims.
[/quote]

BINGO, Tom. They constantly declare the RCC apostasized and lost its authority, but they ALWAYS hold it to the highest standard and expect the best from it. Therefore it is big NEWS when a scandal occurs.

Why don’t they just openly acknowledge what the believe inside about the RCC and return to it?

Thal59


#17

[quote=vern humphrey] the great sin was not just the abuse (which was bad enough, of course) but the cover-ups. It was a failure of leadership amongst some bishops – who ought to be in prison, if there were justice.
[/quote]

Vern, I normally agree with you but I think here you’re mistaken (about the Bishops belonging in prison). A parent goes to you (a Bishop) to report an abuse, first of all, you as a Bishop must find out if it’s true. If you ask the priest and he confesses, guess what? Can you report the priest to the authorities? No, since it’s privileged by the confessional. So you (as a Bishop) seek professional help for the priest, which in most cases was done. After treatment, the mental health professional states the patient is “cured” (remember, at that time the mental health profession didn’t know this couldn’t be “cured”). So do you punish the priest? Isn’t it your calling to forgive? If you restrict them are you really forgiving them? Do you not trust them? So, now you can’t report them, since their confession is privileged and the report from the parent isn’t admissible as evidence since it’s hear say, so you can’t go to the authorities. You could restrict their activities, which in hindsight should have been done, but the “professionals” said they were cured. One problem was in the reporting of the crimes. It should have been reported, by the parent, to the police NOT the Church. If you tell me a crime was committed by an individual, to a third party, I can do nothing since I have no direct evidence, only your word that a crime was committed by a third person to a fourth person. My solution would be to commit the offending priest to a life sentence with no parole into a prison to minister the inmates. I am not defending the Bishops actions, or lack thereof, but it was a judgment call, you shouldn’t go to prison for poor judgment.


#18

[quote=Tom]Vern, I normally agree with you but I think here you’re mistaken (about the Bishops belonging in prison). A parent goes to you (a Bishop) to report an abuse, first of all, you as a Bishop must find out if it’s true. If you ask the priest and he confesses, guess what? Can you report the priest to the authorities? No, since it’s privileged by the confessional.
[/quote]

No. In the Diocese of Little Rock the official charged with investigating such cases is not a priest – so no sacremental confession can take place. That same official is charged with warning the Bishop not to hear sacremental confession from the accused until the case has been investigated.

A Bishop cannot give his ring and staff to a “mental health professional.” The Bishop can only accept advice from them – and the Bishop chooses his advisers. He is therefore doubly responsible for receiving and following bad advice.

Let me point out we’re not talking about isolated instances – there were priests who repeatedly went through this process. The Bishops had ample evidence these people were not being cured.

And the fact that they passed some of them on without warning of their past crimes shows the Bishops in question were deliberately hiding this information.

No. You have a responsible layman investigate the case (to avoid the problem of the confessional). If the case appears to be factually true, you turn the evidence over to the temporal authorities for further investigation and prosecution.

[quote=Tom]Isn’t it your calling to forgive? If you restrict them are you really forgiving them? Do you not trust them?
[/quote]

No, you don’t trust them. As a Bishop, your duty is to your flock. You do not turn predators loose amongst the flock.

As I have pointed out, the confessional doesn’t enter into the case – because a wise Bishop would have these charges investigated by a layman and would refuse sacremental confession during the investigation.

Your comment on “hearsay” is completely wrong. Any citizen man bring a complaint. The victim swears to the complain in front of a magistrate, who issues a warrant on the basis of that sworn complaint. (Procedures vary from state to state – but this description would fit most states.)

The Bishops chose their advisors, including these "professionals.’ They cannot shift the responsibility to the advisers – and the evidence is that most Bishops who were concealing these sexual predators chose advisors who told them what they wanted to hear.

In addition, there were plenty of follow-on complaints. How many times does a man have to rape children before you begin to doubt the assurance that he is “cured?”

[quote=Tom]One problem was in the reporting of the crimes. It should have been reported, by the parent, to the police NOT the Church.
[/quote]

Indeed it should have. But when parents came to the Church, in many cases considerable pressure was brought to bear to prevent them from going to the police. They were told, “The Church will handle it.”

[quote=Tom]If you tell me a crime was committed by an individual, to a third party, I can do nothing since I have no direct evidence, only your word that a crime was committed by a third person to a fourth person. My solution would be to commit the offending priest to a life sentence with no parole into a prison to minister the inmates. I am not defending the Bishops actions, or lack thereof, but it was a judgment call, you shouldn’t go to prison for poor judgment.
[/quote]

One should be removed from office for poor judgement – business managers and military officers always have that hanging over them.

When one makes repeated “poor judgements,” repeating the same mistake over and over. And when that mistake ruins young peoples’ lives and allows sexual predators to go on to new hunting grounds the person who made the judgement reaches a point where he can no longer claim, “I thought he was cured.”

And if he does it one more time after that point, he should go to prison.


#19

Super,
You present an excellent argument.

But there is, for me, a pervasive and profound motivation to be “swayed from the Church” that greatly exceeds the “fallible”.
That being the inhospitable, intolerant, uncharitable, homophobic, doctrinally arrogant attitude of too many of the regular posting members of the CAF.

Originally I was pleased to find this site because I anticipated that it would SUPPORT my faith. It has not. I am turned off by what I read. I am turned off by the religious elitism. I am disgusted by the lableling and name calling and contempt held and expressed for those prejudged as “Liberal, CINO, CAfCath, Leftist, Darwinist, Feminist, Democrat (JFK was a Democrat), Socialist…”

If the community that dominates CAF is a true representation of Catholics today, count me out–as I’m sure many here already do. This is not a community I want to be a member of. My soul rejects such conduct, recoils from the mindset and lables it a perversion of Christianity.


#20

[quote=assassin99]There was a recent mention on the news of 700 or so more cases of credible child abuse committed by Catholic priests, mostly occurring several years ago, I think. Nary a mention of it anywhere on these forums, though (but plenty of posts against gay marriage and in favor of global warming, etc).

How can the enormous problem of priest sexual abuse be understood? What kind of church is the Catholic church, if a substantial minority of its priests are child abusers? Who would want to join the Catholic church? If this is really the One Truth Faith that Comes to Us from the Apostles, why are there so many perverts preaching its word? Every single instance of abuse I hear about makes me question my Catholic faith. And what about the abused? Surely the image of Father O’Malley touching their private parts understandably would discourage them from retaining their Catholic faith. If the abused no longer believe, are they going to hell? Why would God let his One True Faith mess up people like that?
[/quote]

A lot of it might have been prevented - if the bishops had not shuttled the priests in question from parish to parish.

The question is - how and why did the bishops in question come to think that it was appropriate to do this ?

This did not blow up from nowhere - there had been a report on it in 1984 after a similar scandal; and warnings that it would probably happen again. It will probably happen again in 2030 or so. ##


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.