a good deed daily

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 25, 2007

A lawsuit brought by two brothers in Seattle has revealed that the Boy Scouts of America have a problem with sexual abuse.

It's a serious problem. But-- here's the interesting thing-- the Boy Scouts have treated it seriously.

The previously private records show the Boy Scouts have ejected at least 5,100 adult leaders nationwide for sexual abuse allegations since 1946. And the files reveal that despite efforts to keep potential abusers from joining, the problems persist: In the past 15 years alone, the organization has kicked out leaders for such allegations at a rate of once every other day.

Take note of that term: "kicked out." The Boy Scouts don't transfer an abusive scoutmaster to another troop. They don't send him off for a few weeks of R&R and then welcome him back into the tent. They kick him out.

Ah, but we've all learned a great deal in these last few years. Up until quite recently, nobody knew how serious pedophilia was. Or at least that's what our bishops have told us, right?

In fact, since its founding in 1910, the Boy Scouts of America has kept files on volunteers it considers "unfit," including sexual abusers, criminals and even homosexuals.

Even homosexuals? The Boy Scout brass hasn't been reading from the same script as the USCCB leadership, has it? They haven't learned to remind the public that homosexuality and pedophilia are Different Things. They haven't learned to caution against "scapegoating" molestors.

In fact they haven't learned much at all from the psychological insights provided by the shrinks who have advised American bishops in the past generation.

According to the files opened by the Stewarts' lawyers, the Boy Scouts ejected a leader, on average, once every three days between 1971 and 1990.

And if you think of what our bishops were doing about sexual abuse over the same period, you can readily understand why the Boy Scouts have been forced to close down more than 80 troops in the Boston area.

Oh wait. The Boy Scouts haven't been forced to close down more than 80 troops in the Boston area. Excuse the confusion. I must be thinking of something else.

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  • Posted by: - Aug. 30, 2007 12:49 PM ET USA

    Novus, There are actually fewer people living in Philadelphia today than there were in 1960...and fewer Catholics in all the inner cities. Catholics have moved out of the cities into the suburbs, yet there are more churches in the cities. Ethnic parishes started in the early 20th century are no longer needed since the Italians and Eastern Europeans for whom those parishes were established have long since assimilated. There are other reasons, but most parish closings are simple demographics.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2007 3:00 PM ET USA

    Let's not blame the Church! The Church is not the source of the problems. The sources are people who claim to be in the Church. Some might be, others aren't.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2007 2:54 PM ET USA

    Wait a sec - emkay, are you saying that the number of people who used to live in those places is no longer as high? I've never heard of a city in the US that didn't expand. Population continues to grow (albeit more slowly now). It's not that people aren't there anymore; that's just ridiculous. If you're saying that there are fewer Catholics, then that's different. But the reason for that is what shrink is talking about.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 29, 2007 12:49 AM ET USA

    "Save Souls!" has given way to "Protect the Children!" Thanks a lot to the USCCB, the bishops, the Jesuits, etc. for their fine work in the Good Lord's vineyard! In the end we reap what we sow ....

  • Posted by: - Aug. 27, 2007 7:46 PM ET USA

    Dear Andy K: Nice try! Seminarians are males over 15 years old (the seminary numbers I reported below included major and minor seminaries; minor seminarians are in high school or the first few years of college.) Your demographic explanation does not account for the fact that the size of the Catholic family, in terms of number of children per married couple AND the number of Catholic parents who declare themselves as practicing was at its peak in 1965, the year that Vatican Council II ended. If birth control and/or abortion were factors in the demographic decline, then their effects would not have been in evidence until 1980 at the earliest, since wide-spread use of birth control by Catholics did not commence until 1965 (circa) and abortion was not common until after1973 the year of Roe v Wade. Hence the downward pressure on the raw number of teenage Catholic boys available for seminary training did not take hold until after 1980. So, at best, your position only makes sense for seminary enrolment after 1985, but by then the biggest declines in enrollment had already occurred. Since the abusers constituted a less than 10% of all priests, between ’65 and 80, the period of peak abuse, some other more powerful factor was in effect. The abusers did not drive out most prospective seminarians. No, as I stated before it was ATTITUDE that suppressed seminary enrollment AS WELL AS encouraging sexual promiscuity among priests and the laity, beginning in 1965. Since then, most Catholic boys no longer believe that they can be sexually continent until marriage, let alone celibate. This happened because, in part, the priests that taught them didn’t believe in sexual continence themselves.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 27, 2007 7:23 PM ET USA

    Maybe there are fewer priests now because boys are safer in the Boy Scouts than in your diocesan seminary. How many times have you heard a priest say he would not send a vocation to the seminary, under present conditions? And do you think he was referring to orthodoxy?

  • Posted by: - Aug. 27, 2007 4:24 PM ET USA

    Dear Shrink, There may be a strong link, but emkay seems closer than what you are suggesting. Catholics have been moving southward and attending less regularly in the NE and MW. So, let's examine demographic data...why are there fewer seminarians since 1965? That was around the time many of these "dear fathers" were ordained. You take the abusers, throw in Roe v Wade, and presto! Fewer men who wish to be parish priests.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 27, 2007 9:27 AM ET USA

    emkay: I think you have a point about the lack of proximate relationship between the abuse scandal and the closing of parishes. However, the decline in priestly vocations, the decline in the spiritual exercises that encourage chastity and the commitment to celibacy, and the rise of sexual promiscuity among Catholics in general and the Catholic clergy in general are related. For example, in 1965 there were roughly 50,000 seminarians in training in the US, within one decade that number had declined 50%, by 1985 the number had declined another 50%. Today there only about 10,000 seminarians, and the Vatican has had to issue a directive to rectors that they should not admit homosexuals (what does this say about who’s trying to get into the seminary?) Over this period, surveys of priest attitude showed that their commitment to celibacy was in decline, and that their views on homosexuality, birth control, etc were warming. So there is a strong link between the underlying currents that drove the sex scandal and the decline in priestly vocations.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 26, 2007 5:36 PM ET USA

    Boston did not close 80 parishes because of the sexual abuse scandal. It closed parishes because there aren't enough priests to staff them or faithful to pray in them. Churches were built where people lived. They don't live there now. Most closed churches are in the big cities of the northeast and midwest. Demographics and a lack of vocations are why churches are closing...not the abuse scandal. It's apples and oranges

  • Posted by: - Aug. 26, 2007 11:05 AM ET USA

    Ignacio: Carthusians for sure, even tho they would not accept the offer. Trappists! Well, think again.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2007 8:57 PM ET USA

    There is much to be said for the revival of the ecclesiastical jail. A sort of monastery for perverts where they can do penance under supervision. I vote to put the carthusians or trapists in charge. Should the perp refuse to go they would be free to fend for themselves in the cold hard world.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2007 5:52 PM ET USA

    Dear Fr. Jim, I find the point here one that the abusing priests ought not to have been transferred around the diocese but should have been kept closer to the chancery office. The bishop could have ordered them to become accountants for the diocese. In other words, no easy access to children. What Diogenes fails to mention also is the BSA has had an effective Youth Protection program for both leaders and youth from at least the 1990s.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2007 12:36 PM ET USA

    Agreed, completely, that the BSA has dealt well with the perfidious abusers drawn to their ranks; and agreed, completely, that the Church has not. But the parallel is not exact. Leaders in the Boy Scouts are not ontologically changed, "scout leaders forever according to the line of Baden Powell," as it were. They are easily "kicked out," but I imagine that this was a particularly difficult issue for Church leaders. I'm not excusing malfeasance, merely asking us to be mindful of the nuance.

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2007 12:01 PM ET USA

    Quite a few bishops made priests against whom allegations had been made Boy Scout chaplains – an action that looks suspiciously like being an accessory before the fact to a felony. As most scouts are at or after the age of puberty, they are not the target of pedophiles but of chicken hawk homosexuals. But keeping these predators out has led to the scouts being barred from public facilities. The national scouting organization is willing to pay the price to protect boys; the Catholic Church is not

  • Posted by: - Aug. 25, 2007 11:46 AM ET USA

    Optimum age. Semper paratus. ad majorem Dei gloriam Optimus Optimorum