Catholic religious order based in Midwest voluntarily opens abuse files to outside experts

*The Capuchin Franciscan Province of St. Joseph, which spans 10 Midwestern states, asked experts in clergy sex abuse to provide a full accounting of abuse by examining all the order’s records. Advocates for victims said it was the broadest attempt at transparency by any part of the American church.*AP story at Washington Post

Is this problem as bad and systemic as the news reports suggest? My first thought is no, it’s not, however as myself and my family are joining the Catholic Church I’ve no choice but to err on the side of caution as I have two young children.

It is bad; as bad as it is in all segments of society. The most dangerous thing we can do, is assume that someone is safe, just because they are in a position of trust. In fact, those who prey upon children often place themselves in positions of trust in order to have greater access to potential victims.

I understand the problems exist, but it seems like every time I turn around it’s happened yet again. Geez, almost as if it’s in EVERY parish.

That is a gross exaggeration. I must caution you to not spread false rumors that could damage the reputations of the vast majority of holy priests who hy all evidence are not guilty of such crimes.

I’d like to think so. It’s just very frustrating (and disturbing) to read a new story of sex abuse every day. I honestly do believe the vast majority are sincerely honest and good. On the other hand, new revelations (like the one you posted) certainly does lead me to believe the problem is deeper and wider than I’d once suspected. It doesn’t turn me away from the Church, but I can definitely see it turning many others away.

May I advise you not to embrace, carte blanche, what secular media presents every day? For instance, rarely do you hear stories like these which are, themselves, common: Like* Fr. McRae described in Wall Street Journal

A secularist in England admits abuse reports are exaggerated

Psychology Today article defending priests

This month, for example, a woman admitted making up priest abuse accusations

Another man in Ireland was found guilty of making up accusations

*

And it goes on and on. So if you want to say any instances of abuse are bad. Fine. If you suggest it seems like “every parish” or embrace as gospel the media’s daily fodder as some evidence that abuse is so rampant as to demand your fear when you go to a parish, then I couldn’t call that reasonable.

Incidentally, new reports of abuse are down. Claims of abuse decades old and against deceased priests are up.

Not stuff you’ll hear from an antagonistic media.

Of course, the reason it seems this overwhelming is that when priests follow the law, that’s not news, any more than it is with the population at large. Which is more noteworthy - “1 person guilty of horrible crime” or “overwhelming number of people follow the law?”

May I also deduce that you’re inclined to believe that anyone who owns a gun is a homicidal maniac since one hears on the news nearly every day of a gun owner who murdered someone?

If not, why the difference in conclusions? Perhaps the answer lies in the subtle media bias that blankets the issue?

I would say this would be the case.

I think that, just as in any institution, you need to exercise judgment and caution when you entrust your children to its care. I just joined the Church too, and my kids are bit older now, but it was a bit of a concern. Our actual experience, since the kids don’t attend the Catholic school affiliated with the parish, is that their exposure to the priests is quite limited. I wish it would be more. Honestly, our Pastor is wonderful with children and he has hundreds of them in the school that he considers his spiritual children - the man is non-stop, on the go every minute of the day. I can’t imagine him having the inclination or time to engage in any untoward activities. Just use your judgment. Predators act in predictable ways.

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