Debate on the Priest Abuse Scandal
from the discussion board for the movie "Deliver Us From Evil" (2006)

Debate on the Priest Abuse Scandal (on the 2006 documentary movie "Deliver Us From Evil")

See also update and response on the March-April 2010 "NY Times" accusations

10/20/2006 08:04 AM from P

Cabal of Scoundrels? Part 1


From the other thread by "hardcase", I'll respond since you challenged me:

hardcase << i'm proud to be liberal and i'm very proud to be an atheist .... i'm going to quote this once a day, everyday, until P responds. you're a coward P, and i'm not letting you off the hook this time >>

Coward about what? From the day I first posted here (about a week now) I've been consistent. Here are my points. Let's follow my logic:

  • there is abuse in the Catholic Church, I haven't denied any stories of abuse, I've accepted them all at face value, some say I've tried to "minimize" but that's only because I have been quoting the actual statistics and reported numbers of those abused and priests accused;
  • the alleged abuse involves about 4.0% of priests even accused over a 50 year period (this amounts to about 11000+ total victims reported, and 5000+ priests accused), these stats are provided from the themselves in an article from the Washington Post (if there are more up to date stats, please let me know);
  • in 2001 alone (one year) there were over 900,000 children abused in the U.S. (about 10% sexual), I've provided that source about 10 times at least (source: "Child Maltreatment 2001: Summary of Key Findings," National Adoption Information Clearinghouse, April 2003, also National Child Abuse and Neglect Data Systems developed by the Children's Bureau of the U.S. Department of Human Services);
  • therefore the problem is far more prevalent and far worse in society as a whole (Protestant clergy, and school teachers far more).

Your basic stats are provided in this Catholic League article (from Feb 2004) and the more comprehensive John Jay study (from 2003-2004). The conclusion from the Catholic League article still stands:

"The issue of child sexual molestation is deserving of serious scholarship. Too often, assumptions have been made that this problem is worse in the Catholic clergy than in other sectors of society. This report does not support this conclusion. Indeed, it shows that family members are the most likely to sexually molest a child. It also shows that the incidence of the sexual abuse of a minor is slightly higher among the Protestant clergy than among the Catholic clergy, and that it is significantly higher among public school teachers than among ministers and priests."

Note: the movie "Deliver Us From Evil" claims in the trailer that there are "100,000 victims" of abuse from Catholic clergy. That is clearly wrong according to the known stats.

hardcase << there may be just as many molestors in the public school system as there are in the clergy (i somehow doubt it, but whatever) >>

Not whatever. No need to doubt it, the stats have been provided. See above. The Catholic League article provides them, and compare those with the comprehensive John Jay College study. This is not nice to hear, but for abuse among teachers we have this:

  • The American Medical Association found in 1986 that one in four girls, and one in eight boys, are sexually abused in or out of school before the age of 18. Two years later, a study included in The Handbook on Sexual Abuse of Children, reported that one in four girls, and one in six boys, is sexually abused by age 18. (source: Michael Dobie, "Violation of Trust," Newsday, June 9, 2002, p. C25). That's literally millions of cases of abuse.
  • It was reported in 1991 that 17.7 percent of males who graduated from high school, and 82.2 percent of females, reported sexual harassment by faculty or staff during their years in school. Fully 13.5 percent said they had sexual intercourse with their teacher. (source: Daniel Wishnietsky, "Reported and Unreported Teacher-Student Sexual Harassment," Journal of Ed Research, Vol 3, 1991, pages 164-69)
  • In New York City alone, at least one child is sexually abused by a school employee every day. One study concluded that more than 60 percent of employees accused of sexual abuse in the New York City schools were transferred to desk jobs at district offices located inside the schools. Most of these teachers are tenured and 40 percent of those transferred are repeat offenders. They call it "passing the garbage" in the schools. One reason why this exists is due to efforts by the United Federation of Teachers to protect teachers at the expense of children. (source: Douglas Montero, "Secret Shame of Our Schools: Sexual Abuse of Students Runs Rampant," New York Post, July 30, 2001, p. 1). Another is the fact that teachers accused of sexual misconduct cannot be fired under New York State law. (source: "Schools Chancellor: Four Teachers Barred from Classroom," Associated Press, June 12, 2003).
  • One of the nation's foremost authorities on the subject of the sexual abuse of minors in public schools is Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft. In 1994, Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan did a study of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York City. All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach. Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations. Some were even given an early retirement package. (source: Charol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan, In loco parentis: Sexual abuse of students in schools, What administrators should know. Report to the U.S. Department of Education, Field Initiated Grants).
  • Moving molesting teachers from school district to school district is a common phenomenon. In only 1 percent of the cases do superintendents notify the new school district. (ibid) According to Diana Jean Schemo, the term "passing the trash" is the preferred jargon among educators. (Diana Jean Schemo, "Silently Shifting Teachers in Sex Abuse Cases," New York Times, June 18, 2002, p. A19)
  • Shakeshaft has also determined that 15 percent of all students have experienced some kind of sexual misconduct by a teacher between kindergarten and 12th grade; the behaviors range from touching to forced penetration. (source: Elizabeth Cohen, "Sex Abuse of Students Common; Research Suggests 15% of All Children Harassed," Press & Sun-Bulletin, February 10, 2002, p. 1A). She and Cohan also found that up to 5 percent of teachers sexually abuse children. (source: Berta Delgado and Sarah Talalay, "Sex Cases Increase in Schools; Many Acts of Teacher Misconduct Not Being Reported," Sun-Sentinel, June 4, 1995, p. 1A).

Are these sources wrong? If so, disprove them. There's more, see the Catholic League article. I repeat: Not "whatever," you don't have to doubt it. The problem is far worse in the public school system.

hardcase << but the school system doesnt defend the molestors once they're exposed >>

Says who? See above. You're making assertions, but providing no statistics or sources. See above. Please provide your counter stats, provide your counter sources, show that all the sources above are wrong. Once you provide counter sources giving the true story, then you can make that assertion. Until then, your point is disproven above.

hardcase << state board of ed officials dont say "okay, let's send this guy to another district where they havent heard about him" >>

Wrong, it is done. See above. Cold hard facts and stats provided above.

Cabal of Scoundrels? Part 2

hardcase << the catholic church has been making a concerted effort at the highest levels to sweep the abuses they know about under the rug >>

4.0% of priests in the U.S. have been accused of abuse over a 50 year period. Again, you're making generalizations without providing any numbers. Here are some more numbers, again from the John Jay College study:

"The majority of priests (56%) were alleged to have abused one victim, nearly 27% were alleged to have abused two or three victims, nearly 14% were alleged to have abused four to nine victims and 3.4% were alleged to have abused more than ten victims. The 149 priests (3.5%) who had more than ten allegations of abuse were allegedly responsible for abusing 2,960 victims, thus accounting for 26% of allegations. Therefore, a very small percentage of accused priests are responsible for a substantial percentage of the allegations."

The complete John Jay College study report I have made available as one PDF (see below). The Executive Summary in HTML format is available too (see below). This is the most comprehensive study of abuse in the Church to date, and as I understand it is updated yearly. If you know of a more comprehensive study, please let me know what that is.

hardcase << and that's not only inexcusable but contradictory to the values they claim to represent >>

We agree there, if and when it is done. Those guilty are not living according to the official and clearly defined moral teachings of the Church.



10/26/2006 09:44 PM by P

Scoundrels Part 1

OK, I've given this thread a few days.....time to respond again! 

hardcase << if you can't back up your argument with objective, impartial, and unbiased sources, then you're wasting your time >>

Articles were provided from

the Washington Post (Feb 2005 article from the site)
Newsday, June 9, 2002
Journal of Ed Research, Vol 3, 1991
New York Post, July 30, 2001
Associated Press, June 12, 2003
Charol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan, Report to the U.S. Dept of Ed
New York Times, June 18, 2002
Sun-Sentinel, June 4, 1995

These sources were provided in the Catholic League article to show abuse is far more widespread in the public school system than among ministers or clergy. You disputed that. I have shown you have no reason to dispute this. You are switching topics on me and bringing up other issues. But I'll deal with a few points. The main point of my response is to show the sexual abuse is far more prevalent in society as a whole. Do you still dispute that?

You haven't disputed that except to say the Catholic sources I've provided are biased. Do I need to point out the obvious? The Washington Post, Newsday, Journal of Ed Research, the New York Post, Associated Press, New York Times, and the Sun-Sentinel are not Catholic sources. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice is a non-Catholic institution associated with the secular City Univ of New York. Now for your other points.

hardcase << if you've been doing this for so long, why did you a entitle your thread "cabal of scoundrels? part1" when it contains both "part 1" and "part 2?" guess what? you're an idiot >>

Well you may have me on that one, but when you start a thread in here, you name it something. I originally named it "Cabal of Scoundrels" (without a part 1 or 2) and when finished I hit "Submit New Thread" and got the response back there is a limit to the number of words allowed (about 10,000). Now follow me here. So I then split the post up, and re-named the thread "Cabal of Scoundrels Part 1" since I knew there had to be a Part 2 to fit in the rest. I then added the remainder of my response to you in a post immediately following that one called Part 2. Easily explained. Next.

hardcase << because i bet that's exactly what you'll do, from what i've seen of your modus operandi on this board. you paste the same post containing your church-funded (and thus, irrelevant) statistics over and over >>

It was Church funded (somebody has to fund the study), but the organization doing the collecting of stats are criminal justice professionals and objective, impartial, outside (i.e. non-Catholic) researchers. The research study was not done by the U.S. Catholic bishops but by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Here is the description: "John Jay College has many areas of special interest for local, state and federal law enforcement officials, private security personnel and those interested in fire science, public safety and other facets of public service." (see below for links) Next.


Scoundrels Part 2

hardcase << first off, your figures are of the absurd hyperbole that one can only expect from a christian. we both know that the numbers arent that high, and we both know that it doesnt matter. but if you think that your request was reasonable in light of my assertion that the church is a cabal of scoundrels (an assertion i wholeheartedly maintain and which you're unwittingly helping to affirm) then i have an equally reasonable request. give me unfettered access to the church's internal records >>

OK, we know they aren't that high. Progress made. Now how high are they? And how would you go about determining how bad the problem is in the Church without paying a professional criminal justice organization to do a comprehensive study? Do I need to mention this is what the U.S. Catholic bishops did? The best I can do is point you to the most comprehensive study on the subject here (see links below). I posted the Executive Summary on my apologetics site in HTML format since this appears to be available only as PDF elsewhere. For the full PDF report, see below. Next.

hardcase << namely, that the very wording of my assertion implies secrecy/conspiracy, and is thus unprovable. but a slight leap of faith, supported by strong, if relatively sporadic, evidence, shouldnt be too much to ask from someone who believes that the son of an eternal god rose from the dead and grants eternal life to his followers >>

Yes you are correct. A Cabal would be a small group. OK my mistake. Yes your view is conspiratorial thus an unprovable view, no doubt. More progress made. All we have are the known stats to go on conducted by John Jay College which produced the most comprehensive study on the subject. As for the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I would recommend an article and a formal debate:

Evidence for the Resurrection
Craig vs. Ehrman Debate on the Resurrection

hardcase << corrupt: in the twelfth century, pope innocent iii originated the expression "kill them all. let god sort them out" when he ordered the massacre of countless "heretics" >>

Changing the subject, but this is dealt with in two books I've already recommended on this board:

Inquisition by Edward Peters (Univ of CA Press, 1989)
The Spanish Inquisition: A Historical Revision by Henry Kamen (1998)

Peters is a Catholic medieval historian, while Kamen is a non-Catholic. There were several "inquisitions" in the history of the Church, but the historical facts and numbers of victims have been grossly exaggerated over the years. The books by Peters and Kamen are your best sources separating "myth" from history. Peters covers the Medieval inquisition in some depth, while Kamen is an expert on the Spanish. Read, learn.

My article on Fundamentalist author Dave Hunt and the Spanish Inquisition

hardcase << is my claim wrong? if so, disprove it >>

Not wrong, but exaggerated. There were "inquisitions" and there were "crusades." See books above and also this page by Dave Armstrong. A Catholic source, he is a convert from evangelical Christianity. Nevertheless he backs himself up quite well with plenty of (non-Catholic and secular source) documentation.

Catholic Scandals and Shortcomings

hardcase << i could launch into a protracted and quite scholarly account of the church's traditional (and ongoing) oppresion of women, which could easily be construed as a "sexual assault," but why bother? i trust my point is made. or is my claim wrong? if so, disprove it >>

Again, changing the subject. But yes, that claim is wrong and/or exaggerated. But I understand there are two sides to that depending how one interprets history. Two books on the subject: Does Christianity Squash Women?: A Christian Looks at Womanhood by Rebecca Jones (Broadman and Holman, 2005); and Full of Grace: Women and the Abundant Life by Johnnette Benkovic (Charis Books, 1998), by a Catholic woman commenting on John Paul II's writings on women. There are others presenting your perspective. One is Woe to the Women by Gaylor. This is not a subject I have studied too much. You can't know everything.

hardcase << it is perfectly reasonable to assume the number of pedophiles in the church to be over 50%. i can't prove this claim because it isnt falsifiable. is my claim wrong? you cant disprove it >>

We can only go by what we know, by those who have come forward. Again I repeat: 900,000 cases of abuse were reported in the U.S. in 2001 ALONE, about 10% (90,000) being sexual. Compared with: about 11,000+ cases of abuse from Catholic clergy have been alleged in the U.S. over a period of 50+ YEARS. That's what we know. The abuse is far more prevalent in society, Protestant clergy and the school system especially.

hardcase << oh wow... more statistics provided by the united states conference of catholic bishops. there's an impartial source... >>

You're disputing the numbers of Catholics, bishops and priests in the United States? That's all those stats were. The U.S.C.C.B. provided two sources:

The Official Catholic Directory 2006, P.J. Kenedy & Sons, New Providence, NJ. 2006 
Statistical Yearbook of the Church 2004; population estimated as of June 30, 2002. 

It's just a stats book providing the numbers of Catholics worldwide. There is no reason to dispute these.

hardcase << ya know what? i've just about had it with your bogus statistics. time to dissect. nurse, scalpel please... >>

Your dissection consists of nothing more than noting the page happens to be on my site. As I explained earlier, I converted the John Jay report Executive Summary to HTML format. That's all. The stats are available on the John Jay College of Criminal Justice site itself in PDF format. If you know of a more comprehensive study on abuse in the Church than that, let me know. You haven't provided any counter stats or any counter sources disputing mine. A lot of assertions but no documentation.

hardcase << if you can't back up your argument with objective, impartial, and unbiased sources, then you're wasting your time >>

I have done so. Go back and read my posts. All the sources I've provided are non-Catholic, objective news sources. See above. John Jay College of Criminal Justice is not a Catholic college. I might just put a few of these posts on my own site to preserve them (my replies with quotes from your replies).



Re: stats

dewt << I have been wanting to huff and puff and blow down the house of cards ol' Big Bad Phil, if ever a Boy thought blustering big words meant being a Man. The house of cards he was so frantically trying to keep intact. >>

erro << PS Word to your mother, Phil. You've stated previously that you aren't that well versed on the actual case by case systemic clergy abuse/bishop coverup that has been going on these past years (centuries?) >>

Here's what you all need to do:

  • Show the abuse problem is far worse in the Catholic Church than in society as a whole. (I have clearly shown it is not).
  • Show that all my stats on the numbers of priests accused and the numbers of victims are incorrect, that they are FAR HIGHER than what the stats show. (I have not seen any counter stats in here).
  • Show the John Jay College study is wrong. (It is the most comprehensive study on the subject).
  • And one more: Show the Catholic Church is doing nothing to fix the problem. That is not true either.

Again, the problem is far worse in the public school system. Does anyone in here still dispute that? There's nothing more to say in response. I've said it all, repeated it over and over. I might be done here but you never know. I have this board in my favorites.



Update on the March-April 2010 accusations and response from the Catholic League.

Recent accusations against the Vatican deserve a response.

  • Fr. Lawrence Murphy apparently began his predatory behavior in Wisconsin in the 1950s, yet the victims' families never contacted the police until the mid-1970s. After an investigation, the case was dropped.
  • The Vatican did not learn of the case until 1996.
  • Cardinal Ratzinger, now the pope, was the head of the office that was contacted. There is no evidence that he knew of it. But even if he did, he would have had to allow for an investigation. While the inquiry was proceeding, Murphy died.
  • The Times questions why Murphy was never defrocked. But only the Vatican can do that, and since it never learned of the case until he was dying, it was never a realistic option.
  • The Times says the Vatican's canonical inquiry was done in secret. Correct. The proceedings of internal investigations -- even in organizations like the Times -- are never shown on C-SPAN.
  • The Times says repeatedly that Church officials did not report accusations of abuse to the police. The common response of all organizations, secular as well as religious, was to access therapy and reinstate the patient (I prefer the term offender). Today it is obvious that a more hard-line approach is necessary, though therapy is still popular in many quarters.
  • The Times continues to editorialize about the "pedophilia crisis," when all along it's been a homosexual crisis. Eighty percent of the victims of priestly sexual abuse are male and most of them are post-pubescent. While homosexuality does not cause predatory behavior, and most gay priests are not molesters, most of the molesters have been gay.

Here's what's really going on.

The Times has teamed up with Jeffrey Anderson, a radical lawyer who has made millions suing the Church (and greasing professional victims' groups like SNAP), so they can weaken its moral authority. Why? Because of issues like abortion, gay marriage and women's ordination. That's what's really driving them mad, and that's why they are on the hunt. Those who doubt this to be true need to ask why the debt-ridden Times does not spend the same resources looking for dirt in other institutions that occurred a half-century ago.

Bill Donohue, President

CATHOLIC LEAGUE for Religious and Civil Rights
450 Seventh Avenue, New York, New York 10123
(212) 371-3191 Fax: (212) 371-3394 


April 9, 2010

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on the latest developments in the sexual abuse scandal.

Every news story and commentary stating that the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is widening is factually wrong. The evidence shows just the opposite -- it has been contracting for approximately a quarter century.

Here's the proof:

The John Jay College of Criminal Justice -- not exactly an arm of the Catholic Church -- has shown repeatedly that the vast majority of the abuse cases took place from the mid-60s to the mid-80s. And the reports over the last five years show a rapid decline. The latest report, covering 2008-2009, shows exactly six credible allegations made against over 40,000 priests and tens of thousands of others working for the Catholic Church.

Almost all of the chatter about the alleged widening of the scandal is a direct result of media sensationalism. Here is a perfect example, taken from a Reuters story today. The headline reads, "Norway's Catholic Church Reveals New Abuse Cases." But what is new is not a new wave of incidents, rather it is an admission by the Norwegian Catholic Church of four cases of alleged abuse that it had not previously disclosed. Two of the cases date back to the 1950s; another dates back two decades; and the fourth one was based on "rumors."

The same Reuters story opens by saying these four stories come "two days after it [the Norwegian Catholic Church] revealed that a bishop who resigned last year did so after abusing an altar boy." That makes it sound like a Church cover-up. Only at the end of the story does the reader learn that the reason why this story did not emerge until this week is precisely because the victim initially asked that it not be made public.

There is no other religious or secular institution being cherry-picked by lawyers and the media like that of the Catholic Church. If what happened in the 1950s qualifies as news when it happened in the Catholic Church, then surely it would be news to learn of all those who were abused a half-century ago by ministers, rabbis, school teachers and others. But it will never happen -- such news fails to make the media salivate.

"Media bias and Catholic bashing"

One of the hallmarks of bigotry is the collectivization of guilt. By that measure, much of the criticism against the pope has been nothing if not Catholic bashing. From militant atheists like Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins indicting the Catholic Church as a "child-raping institution," to newspaper cartoons branding all Catholic clergy as molesters, the evidence is clear that anti-Catholicism is alive and well.

When an MSNBC employee posts on its Web site that the pope was guilty of "touching boys" (an apology was quickly granted, and I accepted it), then there is something sick going on. Indeed, the vitriol has been unrelenting. Moreover, a bishop was attacked during Easter Mass in Muenster, Germany, and anti-Catholic graffiti were splashed on the walls of a church near Rome. And let's not forget about the calls to storm the offices of the Catholic League that were placed on the Internet, as well as the non-stop hate speech that we've fielded via phone calls, e-mails and letters.

As I said in a New York Times op-ed page ad recently, the issues of abortion, gay marriage and women's ordination are driving the hatred. Now it is no secret that the vast majority of those working in the mainstream media -- especially the most influential outlets -- are decidedly liberal. It is not surprising, then, that a portion of this segment is inimical to the teachings of the Catholic Church on matters sexual, and that some are fueled with hatred. To deny this exists is to be in denial.

It is, of course, nonsense to pretend that the media make up stories of priestly sexual abuse. The fault lies squarely with the Catholic Church. But when one institution is targeted among many, and when the window extends back a half-century, those who belong to it may rightly wonder what is going on. To wit: if there were a monistic fixation on sexual abuse in the Jewish community, or in the public schools, Jews and teachers could be excused if they thought they were being put upon.

Many are drawing a parallel between what happened in 2002 in Boston and today's news stories. But there is a huge difference: the newspapers which fingered the Boston Archdiocese had the goods on the known culprits. Today it is a different story.

In the Catholic League's 2002 Annual Report on Anti-Catholicism, I wrote the following: "It was a rare event in 2002 to read a newspaper account of the scandal that was patently unfair, much less anti-Catholic. The Boston Globe, the Boston Herald and the New York Times covered the story with professionalism." Not so today.

What makes matters different today is the total lack of evidence that Pope Benedict XVI did anything wrong. Laurie Goodstein of the New York Times has absolutely no proof that the pope knew anything about the infamous Father Lawrence Murphy case (the Wisconsin priest who molested deaf boys). Indeed, this case didn't even reach his Vatican office until 1996 (almost a half-century after the alleged offenses, and fully two decades after Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland knew about it).

Furthermore, Fr. Thomas Brundage, the judge in the Murphy trial, said that the pope's name (then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger) never came up during discussions in Milwaukee, Washington (home to the headquarters of the bishops) or Rome. Indeed, he said he was "shocked" when he learned some were trying to tie him to the Murphy case. On a related note, Goodstein never bothered to interview Brundage until after her big story ran.

In other words, many of the same media outlets that acted responsibly in 2002 acted irresponsibly in 2010. They reached for the big gold ring in the sky this time around, trying to tag -- if not unseat -- the pope, and they lost. Shame on them for trying.

Bill Donohue is President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

April 7, 2010; 10:53 AM ET

Books / Articles:

Understanding the Priest Scandal: A Catholic Answers Special Report
A Crisis of Saints from Catholic Answers

Shaken by Scandals: Catholics Speak Out About Priests' Sexual Abuse edited by Paul Thigpen
Bless Me Father for I Have Sinned by Thomas G. Plante
Goodbye, Good Men by Michael S. Rose

Audio MP3 from EWTN:

on the 2010 "NY Times" article:

World Over Live EWTN 3/26/2010 hosted by Raymond Arroyo and guests

on the 2002 "Boston" archdiocese scandal:

Crisis in the Church Part 1 hosted by Raymond Arroyo with guests
Crisis in the Church Part 2 hosted by Raymond Arroyo with guests
On the Priest Scandal 4/30/2002 hosted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa with guest
On the Priest Scandal 7/31/2002 hosted by Fr. Mitch Pacwa with guest
World Over Live EWTN 7/12/2002 hosted by Raymond Arroyo with guests


Executive Summary of the John Jay College Report (HTML format on this site)
Survivors Network (SNAP)
USCCB Official Site with Full Report
John Jay College of Criminal Justice with Full Report

P (Updated April 2010)

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