Philadelphia story

By Diogenes (articles ) | Sep 22, 2005

Where have we heard this before?

In a lengthy, combative answer to a scathing grand-jury report, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia argues that the criticism of its response to clerical abuse is unfair, because:

  • only a small percentage of priests molested children
  • sexual abuse was a problem in other institutions, too-- not just the Catholic Church
  • the grand-report is "focusing only on salacious details" (instead of saying nice things? in a grand jury report?)
  • back then people didn't know that molesters can't be "cured" by psychiatric treatment
  • and anyway lots of clerical molesters were apparently "cured" by treatment
  • the archdiocese cooperated fully with investigators (even if investigators thought otherwise)
  • the archdiocese had excellent policies in place for dealing with clerical molesters
  • and anyway those policies have been completely overhauled

Above all, the archdiocese absolutely positively did not reassign priests who were guilty of sexual abuse. Never ever. Except sometimes. And "to its knowledge no priest, subsequent to the medical evaluation and reassignment, engaged in any additional act of criminal sexual abuse with a minor." [Emphasis added, just to show how sweeping the archdiocesan statement is.]

Yes, we've heard it all before. And over the past 5 years, we've seen similar archdiocesan defenses dismantled, plank by plank, as new facts emerge. But it's at least logically possible that in this case, the defense will hold up.

Or is it? In one clear, sweeping statement, the archdiocese claims:

The Archdiocese did not engage in a 'cover-up' of the sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Ah. So when a priest was found to have raped children, did archdiocesan officials contact families in his parish, to make sure that other children were not molested, too? Did they put local law-enforcement officials on alert? Did they provide an honest explanation for the priest's removal from the rectory? When a priest-abuser was returned to ministry after psychological treatment, was anyone warned to keep an eye on him?

Face it: If they didn't tell the truth, then they engaged in a cover-up. Did they tell the truth?

Next question: Are they telling the truth now?

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  • Posted by: Eleazar - Sep. 23, 2005 12:06 PM ET USA

    In re Leo13: They've been buying into the "therapy culture" for 30+ years. The question is, can they get and stay (morally) sober. I see this as yet another example of modernism in the (American) Church.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 22, 2005 2:54 PM ET USA

    The shocking thing about the "therapy" culture embraced by the bishops is that it is used to relieve perpetrators of any moral responsibility for their foul acts. We see this same culture in our courts, with judges administering therapy in lieu of imposing punishment. While there is a role for psychology, psychiatry and other healing professions, the Church should abstain from buying into the "therapy" world view so prevalent in our culture.

  • Posted by: Eleazar - Sep. 22, 2005 1:32 PM ET USA

    Like Odysseus, I have been greatly disturbed by the extent to which the American Catholic Church bought into the therapeutic culture (irony intended.) Not only has psychology proven to have missed the mark so completely, it has also been used as cover for the cowardice of the episcopate. But that raises questions; can a molester ever be trusted again? Can he ever be returned to a position of trust without supervision, especially considering the consequences?

  • Posted by: Eusebuis1 - Sep. 22, 2005 11:32 AM ET USA

    Will it be Archbishop Levada's job to inform our Holy Father about this distorted (and even biased) Grand Jury Report. Who in the Vatican will summarize the Report for our Holy Father? I'm sure it will be accurate (?) and support the Archdiocese of Philadelphia observations. Hopefully, the Catholic World Report will have an in-depth article on the Report and Archdiocese of Philadelphia response. Maybe there would be a chance that Pope Benedict will eventually get factual information.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 22, 2005 11:17 AM ET USA

    The angle of this whole thing that I rarely hear mentioned is the "therapy" issue of these priests. I find it really disturbing that the church has bought into this whole idea of embracing and using the psychological professions. Where were psychologists 200 years ago? Did they exist? Psychology is a type of religion founded on theories proposed by their prophets. Why does the church feel the need to consult at every turn with these false religions? Is that not heresy?