Friday, February 27, 2004

A recent study is out on child abuse in the Catholic church. The figures are staggering -- there is documented sexual abuse (serious abuse, not just pats on the rump) by four percent of the priests over that time period; and even that may be an undercount, as it's still based on self-reporting by a hierarchy which has not, to date, been inclined to come clean.

But how bad is that? The authors of the report aren't sure:

These reports provide the most comprehensive examination ever of child sexual abusers in any institution, their authors said, so it is not possible yet to determine whether Catholic priests are more prone to molest children than any other professionals who work with youngsters.

Is it fair to hold priests to a higher standard just because they're supposed to be in the business of moral instruction?

Perhaps not. But consider: One of the things that the report documents is that the Catholic hierarchy was very protective of accused priests, and frequently dismissive toward their accusers. The bishops were loyal to the institution because they sincerely believe that it is on a mission from God. And that loyalty drove them so much that it made them forget what that mission is supposed to be.

And if you want some decent writing on Christians who have lost the plot, here's Jeanne D'arc with a few notes on the kind of Christian that finds more inspiration in the death of Jesus than in his message...


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