Wednesday, November 09, 2011


USA Today says there are parallels between Penn State sex scandal and the Catholic Priest sex scandals. In one sense, they are right. In another, they are dead wrong.

On the one hand, ANY and EVERY act of sex abuse of a child (pedophilia) or teenager (ephebophilia) is a heinous crime and most grave moral sin. EVERY sex abuser, regardless of their gender, religion, occupation should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Yet, we also live in a democratic republic where the rule of law states that EVERYONE IS PRESUMED INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY. Even Roman Law (the basis for ecclesiastical canon law) guarantees DUE PROCESS for anyone accused. The burden of proof rests with the accuser not the accused.

However, when it comes to clergy, because a handful of bishops botched the situation by ignoring complaints or clandestinely transferring known or accused sex abusers, due process is sometimes denied. When a priest is accused of sexually abusing a minor, he must (by Dallas Charter) immediately be removed from public office and then an investigation ensues. When a bishop is accused, however, he does not step down.

LIkewise, when a civilian (layman) is accused, he retains his civil liberties and constitutional rights. He is presumed innocent until proven guilty..

Penn State Assistant Coach Jerry Sandusky was charged with allegedly sexually abusing eight boys (pre-pubescent) over a period of 15 years. He was an assistant coach to the famous Head Coach Joe Paterno.  While immediate superiors were alerted no one made sure that a follow up full disclosure be made to the local police.

While it is horrible that any acts of child sex abuse ever take place, we must admit the disgusting reality that perversion knows no boundaries.

Catholic Priests, Protestant Ministers, Jewish Rabbis, single celibate men and maried men alike, black and white, poor and rich alike; parents, siblings, relatives and neighbors, coaches and scout masters, teachers and others have committed vile acts against children. If you crunch the numbers and do the math, you'll see that Catholic Clergy are NOT the most populous offenders.

CNN did a special the other day on defrocked Catholic priests who were accused of pedophilia but never convicted for their crimes they committed on innocent victims. Problem is that MANY if not MOST perverts can legally buy or rent homes in local neighborhoods near innocent CHILDREN. But the report made it seem as if ONLY ex-Catholic Clergy were the villans and no one else. POPPYCOCK. !!!  Most child abuse is done by parents, siblings and close relatives. Yet, one case is one too many. Pedophilia is not a Catholic nor a celibate issue.  It is a perversion and an immoral evil which do not discriminate victims or perpetrators.   


Ignatius said...

Yes, hypocrisy runs amok in our society. I'm talking about the hypocrisy of those who condemn Catholic priests for sexual abuses, but who in the same breath turn a blind eye to the same abuses being commmitted by other individuals who have nothing to do with the Catholic Church. Or the hypocrisy of those who deny the "presumption of innocence" to priests, but grant it to others. From what I have read in certain legal definitions, the boundaries of "due process" are not fixed and are thus open to judicial interpretation and debate. But when you have at any time in the past presumed a single person innocent, you have established a precedent, and to deviate from that precedent is, according to my view, wrong and unjust. Now please know that I am not a lawyer, judge or any kind of legal professional, so possibly parts of what I have said here may be pure non-sense. :-)

Anonymous said...

Honestly, I agree that people are wrongly using the sex abuse scandal as a blunt weapon against the Church. However, some of the problem of the double standard lies in the fact that priests are held to a higher standard because they are ordained servants of God and thus set apart. While we know everyone is a sinner, we also expect more from priests because of their position. I don't like the line of reasoning that sex abuse is less prevalent inside the Church than in society or public schools, etc. because it tries to mitigate where instead the fact that the problem exists in the Church at all is what is important.

Padre Giovanni Trigilio said...

I totally agree that to whom more is given, more is expected. Hence, we expect more from our religious and civil leaders. At the same time, I think it necessary to say that the secular press is often obsessed with the telling of the news instead of the facts and context of the news. In other words, there is often a feeding frenzy of reporters whenever a scandal is exposed but the race to be the first to scoop can obscure the vision of seeking and revealing the WHOLE TRUTH.

Anonymous said...

Having been sexually abused by a close friend of our family who was a happily married man I can tell you that the majority of sexual abusers fall into the above category. Simple research will bear this out.

I've also worked with sexually abused teens for over 20 years and the same description applies, 'happily married men. This was across the board, whether the victims were boys or girls.

Sexual abuse is evil and unlawful and since there is no known cure for this act abusers should be incarcerated indefinitely !

Thank you Father for your clairity on this issue!

Caroline said...

Thank you Father for speaking to the fact that sexual abuse is an evil that knows no bounds. I'm always sorry to learn about another scandal because it means there are victims who need the healing mercies of God...and the stories of abuse just seem endless.

I'm a survivor of this moral evil too..
and by the grace of God alone do I live to tell about it.

Thank God for Holy Mother Church.

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