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snake oil

By Diogenes (articles ) | Mar 06, 2008

Imagine that a slick salesman knocks on your door and tells you that he has devised a medical program guaranteed to prevent cancer. He has an honest face, so you shell out a few dollars to buy the pamphlet he's peddling. As he disappears over the horizon, you settle down to read it, expecting to be certifiably cancer-free.

Alas, you're disappointed. The pamphlet tells you how to detect the warning signs of cancer, and gives phone numbers for doctors who specialize in treating the disease. That information may be helpful, but it won't guard you against the disease.

Now let's talk about the Archdiocese of Boston, whose spokesmen are reporting "great strides" in preventing the sexual abuse of children, thanks to the "Talking about Touching" program.

O'Malley's top aides said the archdiocese has made dramatic progress in its efforts to prevent abuse since the abuse scandal. They said all Catholic schools are teaching children to identify and report abuse, and that all parishes are training those in grades 4 and above...

Right. The kids can identify sexual abuse, and report sexual abuse. That doesn't mean they won't encounter sexual abuse. The program doesn't offer any guarantees on that score. Indeed it can't.

Some Boston parents continue to hold out against the "Talking about Touching" program. Hard as this may be for you to believe, they are not confident that a sexually explicit program devised by a group that began as a lobby for prostitutes is appropriate for 9-year-old children. So 16 of the 295 parishes now operating in the Boston archdiocese (unless they've closed another one since I last checked) still have not fully implemented the "abuse-prevent" program. Archdiocesan officials see this as regrettable because they are getting bad press sure of the program's benefits.

In addition, he said, there is a clear measure of success for the program: Over the last five years archdiocesan employees and volunteers have reported 400 cases of suspected abuse to the state. In most cases, Connolly said, the allegations did not involve a priest or church employee, but rather concerned an allegation of abuse in the home that was brought by a child to a church worker.

So the Boston archdiocese, which in the past betrayed families by failing to report repeated acts of abuse by clerics, is now serving families by reporting suspected acts of abuse in the home.

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  • Posted by: - Mar. 07, 2008 5:22 AM ET USA

    As a lawyer, I note Connolly's use of "In most cases". This means that an undetermined number of the 400 reported allegations, clergy and/or church employees, are still molesting minors, boys and girls, in the Boston archdiocese of 295 parishes. WWJD?

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