Monday, March 22, 2010

Reader's comment...

"...outside the camp, bearing the insult he bore..." - Hebrews 13: 13

I received a very good comment from a priest on my post discussing the Irish scandal and the Holy Father's letter.  Father's comment helps put in perspective the problem as it affects the majority of faithful priests and religious.
Fr Ronan Kilgannon said...
We are rightly devastated because the crime has occurred, been dealt with poorly, and so is widely publicised. While not in any way excuse this crime among Catholic clergy and religious, it is important to balance the very one-sided reporting of it in the media.
Those who have committed this crime are a small percentage of all those who have committed their lives to God and His church in the ministry and consecrated life. The per capita percentage is about the same by ministers in all Christian denominations and the various world religions. It is just that it is not publicised. For example, freedom of information reveals that more money has been paid out by insurance companies to victims of abuse in Protestant denominations in the USA than the Catholic Church. But by far, the highest percentage of this crime, horrific to state it, occurs in families.
Recent statistics from Ireland suggest one in five girls and one in twelve boys suffer some form of sexual abuse at home. If there is an omission in the Pope's letter it is that it never raises this matter.
The truth is that by far, the highest percentage of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church occurs in Catholic homes not in presbyteries. If we are rightly horrified by this crime we should be demanding of our governments Royal Commission investigations into it so that it will be address not just in the Church but also in society where by far the majority of cases of abuse occur.
I in no way mean this to excuse what has happened among clergy and religious, it is just that imbalanced reporting and a cover up of the crime in families gives the impression that this is a crime committed exclusively by Catholic priests and religious. This is grossly unfair, and makes life for the great majority of us difficult if not intolerable.
We need to pray very much for the priests and religious who, though innocent, bear the insults and shame.
Art: Ecce Homo, Gregorio Fernandez, The Sacred Made Real exhibit, National Gallery, Washington, DC


  1. ... and "in the homes" ... that too needs clarifying. Who is doing the "abusing" ... live-in boyfriends, second-third-fourth spouses, alcoholics/drug/porn addicts, religious (incl. occult practices) or non-religious, cultural influences (i.e. of a nation, social group, ideology etc.), etc. The lumping of "families" is also an injustice as is lumping "all" priests.

    I will add, a recent article highlighted how the definition of "abuse" as quoted in some stats has become more inclusive and ever expanding in what qualifies as abuse, this too needs clarification. Not all reports are defining it the same way.

    When it is reported, such as the statement below, I want to know, is this "Catholic" families or does it include all Irish families? Is the Irish nation on par with other nations' level of family abuse stats? If so, are the "profiles" the same. If not, what stands out for possible causes in Ireland?

    Further, what is the make-up of the families? Who is doing the abusing — biological fathers who are married, divorce, bi-sexual? Boyfriends, grandparents, uncles, siblings? Or mothers, sisters, aunt? And, what types are identified on the list of "some form" of sexual abuse?

    "At home" - does this included visitors who visit or have extend stay in the families' homes? Or "joes" who delivers the newspaper in the morning?

    "Recent statistics from Ireland suggest one in five girls and one in twelve boys suffer some form of sexual abuse at home."

    There is much more to the "abuse" story other than the Catholic Church, I agree.

    The abuser list is a long one & stretches among a varied group of ill souls. There have been in recent years stories that only received the light of day for a split second in limited press that clearly scream we have no clue how deep and wide this evil river is running under the surface of nice company, including educators and government officials who "care" about the children and families.

    Sheesh ... this morning in the WSJ reports on the UN "peace keepers" and their abuse .... no surprise ... not much has been done about it ....

  2. Good points as usual pml. I'm so frustrated by everything, I just can't wait for the world to end.

  3. Some of what Father points out in his comments I knew already. Nevertheless, I'm grateful to him for sharing that statistical information with us.

    I have been ware for quite some time, that the vast MAJORITY of sexual abusers are MARRIED MEN. I can't break it down any further than that, but I do know that men who have a spouse are the principle violators. This is obviously a significant fragment of information the media curiously chooses to omit.

    You have to believe me when I say that I'm not trying to sound melodramatic or sanctimonious, but I'm still in a state of what I would describe as deep depression over this kick in the gut. My only desire - slowly gaining momentum - is to want to kick right back. But at who? At what?

  4. Maria3:39 PM

    Priests unjustly accused? Christ crucified. At times, it seems as if the Church is being crucified. I believe that with the now universal mandate for abortion in the health care bill that we may well be in for the chastisement that has been staved off for so long.

    I always keep in mind what Hardon SJ said--as the priesthood goes, so goes the Church. Like begets like. Holy priests beget holy priests. Unholy priests beget unholy priests. The loss of a sense of sin promulgated by a disregard for, and disbelieg in, Confession led, in part, to the crisis. I think this is why Pope Benedict fouced on penance, fasting, conversion. He understand the impact of the " priestless priest", as it were.
    Padre--Good to see you back. I have been wondering whether you are
    hiding and weak from fasting, or something. LOL.

  5. I realize I did not address what Father was saying: the abuse of children within Irish families.
    I don't have a clue about this; is it deformed religious instruction/formation? Is it part of a repressive kind of Catholicism that is so typically portrayed in the media (is it, in fact, true?).
    "Angela's Ashes", et. al., seem to confirm this, but since I'm not Irish by citizenship, I have no idea.
    If a priest from Ireland is saying that abuse within families is also an issue, then maybe there is more to this than meets the eye, I don't know.
    In the movie "The Priest" (which, by the way, I don't endorse, but I think did give some accurate portrayal of this debacle), a father is abusing his daughter, comes to confession, the priest, wrongly, this typical of what goes on there? I know it is a problem here in America. The public schools and the medical/psychiatric profession are also places where the abuse of vulnerable people (both children and adults) happen.
    This seems much more endemic than just the ecclesial world; we are experiencing the "reckoning" of all the evil that is going on this world. Jesus, mercy!

  6. Fr. I saw "Priest" - in fact I own the film - seems rather providential now, doesn't it? I know it was condemned when it was released, but it's family fare as far as what is being revealed via the media and government investigations of the scandals these days. People may want to rethink watching it, or perhaps it will be re-released.

  7. Terry: I candidly say that that film was very, very accurate in so many ways...the tormented young priest who was scandalized by his pastor's mistress; his agony over his same-sex attraction, his sins, the excruciating torment over what he was going to do...I don't know why it was sure seemed to be true to life from my experience (which I will not detail here...just that I had an extensive, unfortunate 'trial' at a certain school of theology in MN where I was absolutely horrified each day, no kidding, in the early '80s, but that's another post, another life:<)!)...I thank God most people have no idea of what has gone on these past forty years; what is public is enough for now...Jesus is surely the Head of the Church...His representatives leave something to be desired, at times, and I'm trying to be charitable!

  8. Father - I know all too well. Prayers.

  9. Holy priests beget holy priests. Unholy priests beget unholy priests.

    Very true - the same holds for their parishoners. Holy priests beget holy parishoners.

  10. Maria9:36 PM

    Larry--right you are.


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