Priest Scandals

Hello everyone,

I know I haven’t posted here in a while, but I wanted to ask a question regarding the priest child-molestation scandals. I was talking with my stepfather in the living room, when he begins to mention some of the obscenities of the Catholic Church; specifically modern parts, and he brings up the child scandals and how the papacy has not been doing a good job of managing the affair, but rather moving priests from point A to point B.

I didn’t have a specific answer, because:

  1. I’m not a priest

  2. I’m not the leader of the Roman Catholic Church


  1. I’m not well-equipped, currently, to deal with the issues.

Which is why I’m here asking around for council on how this matter should be handled.

My stepfather again refers that, Quote “the whole reason the CC has been dealing with the matter is because they’re being forced to do so.” Unquote. This is quite a confusing scenario, and since I can only try and be real about what’s going on, unreal answers don’t seem enough for me.

I have read of Ratzinger, or should I say His Holiness the Pope, Benedict XVI’s, efforts on dealing with the issues during the late Pope John Paul II’s time. Why haven’t these efforts been made public? Or maybe is it that the media rather keep this from the public? Could people already know and not care?

I would like some help on this as best I may receive.


It doesn’t help the public perception that the Holy Father apologises for the abuse scandals personally. He is a very wise man, but I’m wondering if he realises the profound impact that official apologies have in our ridiculous culture. Everyone sees a high-ranking apology as some sort of admission by the one making the supplication, as if B. XVI had himself abused children. In our selfish, attention-craving and story-grabbing world, everyone graves a good apology. They’ll accept or reject a man based on how well he “heals” their “offended” state and “feelings”.

The poor man has been forced to apologise for something he has probably worked hardest to avert, and so he is identified with the scandal intimately. Please pray for that good and beloved patriarch!

I would suggest ordering the excellent book, Pedophiles and Priests: the Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis by Phillip Jenkins.

Here’s a link:

This book is a fair and intellectual analysis of the situation. The book gives an honest assessment of the numbers of cases. Jenkins discusses how anti-Catholic bias fuels the media and causes them to exaggerate the statistics. He also discusses incidents of sexual misconduct in the Protestant churches and why these have not become a media feeding frenzy.

The one problem with this book is that it’s older (at least ten years old). There’s probably something better out now, and perhaps another poster will be kind enough to cite any new books. But this book is still quite good.

There’s not a whole lot that you can say to your stepfather, IMO. He’s right–it’s a crime and a sin, and no matter how much we love the Catholic Church, we honestly do have priests who honestly did commit heinous crimes against innocent children. Yes, there are lots of exceptions to this; e.g., some of the priests hit on women, or young men (homosexual grooming). The criminality of these acts is not as great, but they are still sins for a priest and they still did damage to people.

There’s a lot that the media isn’t making public. Their stats are hugely inflated–they make it look like every priest is a pervert. And the media also fails to mention the Protestant sexual sins–my husband and I both grew up in evangelical Protestant churches, and in both of those churches, there were grave incidents (criminal in one case) of sexual abuse of children, one by a pastor, and one by a church lay-leader. It happens. Ted Haggard is one of the most public cases of sexual perversion in a pastor (not against children), but there are more Protestant cases that go unmentioned by the media.

My personal feeling is that you would be wise to simply nod and agree with your stepfather that human beings are capable of grave sins. It’s really hard to argue with someone about this issue, even if you have a book like Jenkins’ book in hand. The argument just escalates and gets more emotional. Heaven forbid, but it’s possible that your stepfather suffered some kind of abuse as a child, and now he is flashing back. If you argue with him, it’ll just get worse for him and you won’t know what’s going on and everything will be horrible and loud and you’ll both regret your words later.

So why bother? Just nod and agree, and assure him of your desire to avoid sin and live righteously in Christ.

I have an ex-Catholic friend (now ‘non-practising Protestant,’ in his own words) who called Catholic priests ‘paedophiles.’ I gave him some facts and figures similar to the ones in Prof. Jenkins’ book. He responded with scepticism, and argued that ‘statistics don’t excuse the Church.’

The moral panic over paedophile priests is probably the most serious obstacle to a true understanding of the Church among non-Catholics. No matter how reasonable the arguments in defence of the Church, many who oppose the Church’s teachings are determined to smear all Catholic priests with charge of paedophilia. The Nazis made the same claims during the Third Reich:

The number of pedophile priest comparative is minuscule related to the number of pedophil parents, teachers, youth leaders. Not only in absolute numbers, but relative to their population also.

We are living in a rotten society, which promotes ever kind of abnormalities, and in contrast sets an unnatural standard related to the age of sex with legal consent.

Above that anyone for high financial rewards can accuse anyone with sexual abuse withot any kind of financial or other responsibility if the claim is found false.

Above that the media report and chew on almost any cases against priests, and they are silent or very restrictive about the thousandfold cases by others. Most importantly the bishops are responsible for the sins of their priest, but the leaders of Law Enforcing offices, who are paid to keep law and order, are not even mentioned as responsible for the problem.

This a difficult issue to defend, because it so indefensible. In the end, it matter not if the victim was a child, a young man, or a woman. As the representative of Christ to His Church, the priest has a grave responsibility, laid upon him by Jesus, Himself, not to lead any of His children into Sin. We should bear in mind that these fallen priest are in danger of dire judgement for their sins. Our prayer go out to those who were so perversely abused, but our duty as Christians, is also to pray for the priests, who have fallen so far from Our Lord that they have lost their way.

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