thank God for the experts

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 03, 2007

Where would we be, without the counsel provided by experts, such as those wise students of human nature who kept telling bishops that Father X was ready to return to parish work, and could be trusted around the altar boys?

Things have changed in the last few years, of course, and the experts are now busy devising child-safety programs. Early in April, Catholic educators had the privilege of hearing about their latest work.

At the request of the bishops, Joan Cole Duffell, director of partnership development at the Seattle-based nonprofit Committee for Children, and Deacon Anthony Rizzuto, director of child advocacy for the Archdiocese of Boston, developed a document listing the "critical and core elements of personal safety education programs" aimed at preventing child sexual abuse.

Brilliant! The Catholic bishops wanted a program to protect children, so quite naturally they turned to a group whose founder was a "Dianic Wiccan priestess and sacred whore"-- a group whose original purpose was the legalization of prostitution. (I am not making this up; I don't have that vivid an imagination.) Yes, it's true that the character and goals of the organization have changed since its early days. Still, if you were advising the bishops, is this the first organization you'd look to? No? Ah, but then you're not an expert.

Although it might be "easier to find something, plunk it down in front of the child to read and then check off a box," Deacon Rizzuto said, the church "must rely on the evidence of the psychosocial sciences" in its safe environment programs.

Right. So the collaboration with the Committee for Children came only after an exhaustive nationwide search for an appropriate partner. Funny that I didn't see any Request for Proposals. Maybe I'm not on the right mailing list. But it's a relief to know that we're relying on the "psychosocial" sciences-- they've worked so well for us in the past-- rather than some ancient set of principles such as, say, the Church's moral teachings.

"Talking About Touching," the Committee for Children's program adapted for use in the Boston Archdiocese, begins with a discussion of the basics of traffic safety, fire safety and gun safety and then talks about safe versus unsafe or unwanted touching.

Traffic, fire, and gun safety? And this is all mandated by the Dallas Charter? Was there a major problem involving kids jaywalking on their way home from parochial schools?

Franciscan Sister Clare Bertero, director of religious education in the Archdiocese of Boston, said the biggest challenge to implementing the safe environment program in parishes has been finding time for it in the already packed religious education curriculum.

"We have them for so little time during the year," she said. "The one-size-fits-all approach was not going to work."

So little time, so much to do.... But there's a lesson here for all of us. If your 8th-grade child at St. Eulalia's can't name any of the seven sacraments, keep in mind that his teachers are just awfully busy. You can teach him all that religious stuff at home; the parochial schools have all they can do, telling him not to play with matches.

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Show 13 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 05, 2007 12:52 AM ET USA

    I'd like someone to actually track how much "good" has come out of exposing children to sexual information so early and violating their "latency period" of innocence as well as the rights and duties of parents to address these issues at the time and place most appropriate for each child. Also, why are lay people targeted for investigation? Wasn't it the clergy who were involved in the sex abuse scandal?

  • Posted by: - May. 04, 2007 1:31 AM ET USA

    Thank God for the Sisters of St Joseph of Carondelet. Religion was the first class each morning. We were taught our faith, not "feeling good." In the secular subjects, what we learned put us into first class high schools and prep schools. There were no "events" of any kind in all of my 8 years. Dedicated Sisters and some outstanding priests prepared us well for the years ahead. I, for one, am most grateful. This was in Los Angeles in the days of, the then, Archbishop McIntyre. 'Nuff said!

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 9:30 PM ET USA

    From one whose Bishop is on the non-compliance list I can only say that I wish there were more on that list. Education of children on such matters is a parental responsibility. I'm not willing to abandon that responsibility nor am I willing to trust it to one who has taken the "course" presently approved by the Bishops--since contents of that course DO NOT ahere in all respects to Catholic teaching.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 5:02 PM ET USA

    I am quite confused. Why do the children need to be educatedat on this topic at all? Seems to me that it is the priests and bishops who need education: if a priest seduces a young person, the Bishop will call the cops and support the parents and the state in a public prosecution of the crime. All this distracting business about education children only serves to protect from embarassing scrutiny the sexual perverts in the priesthood, and the bishops who protect them.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 2:40 PM ET USA

    I have two questions for you, Di: Where did you get that info from ("Dianic Wiccan priestess and sacred whore")? Why isn't my diocese on that list with the other two that are NOT in full compliance with this "talking about touching" crap? I think my bishop will have to answer my other questions.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 2:38 PM ET USA

    Between Sept. of 1959 and June of 1968 I attended a Catholic School run by the Sisters of Charity. We had religion class first period every day. I'll bet we learned more math english and science than the kids that are in grade school today.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 1:59 PM ET USA

    Why aren't the Bishops rolling up their sleeves and constructing programs they wish to implement, even on a elemental basis. Others can follow the structure and fill in with appropriate, Catholic precpts and morals. But the again, when did it become the role of the bishops to teach and guide?

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 1:28 PM ET USA

    Diogenes, she is a SACRED whore! That makes it okay, right?

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 1:20 PM ET USA

    A few weeks ago Di raised the interesting question of "Do we need bishops?" The answer to his question becomes ever more obvious.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 1:06 PM ET USA

    A Nun once told me; "She was teaching Christianity not Catholicism to my daughters". Needless to say they were transferred to a different CATHOLIC SCHOOL. What happened to CATHOLIC EDUCATION? Sadly one sees how little there is when you question the young about their faith.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 12:33 PM ET USA

    ...thinking he was a heckuva shortstop, but he's in over his head now...

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 10:02 AM ET USA

    Is this for real????? With all the "learned experts" in the US and elsewhere(who says they need to come from the US) this is it?? I guess I'm glad I grew up when I did, where I did, and was taught and counseled the way I was - because this sure isn't the way!!. One does not need an advanced degree to realize there is something terribly wrong with this system.

  • Posted by: - May. 03, 2007 9:39 AM ET USA

    All I can do is pray and hope the Second Coming is very, very soon.