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As the platoons of political correctness pile on regarding priestly pedophilia, it’s important to keep in mind another “p” word: perspective.
An objective analysis of the situation suggests, first, that the Catholic church is no worse than others when it comes to the incidence of child molesters in its ranks. Second, whatever the failings of the Catholic hierarchy in dealing with this appalling problem (and they are legion), those sins pale in comparison to the blatant hypocrisy of the Church’s enemies on this issue.
In fact, some of those adversaries inadvertently assist the process of placing the scandal in context. Sylvia Demarest, a Texas lawyer, won a $119 million jury award on behalf of former altar boys abused in Dallas, and tracked allegations against priests in every part of the country. She told the Washington Post that her updated list of priests who stand accused of molesting children will reach 1,500 names – representing about 2 percent of the 60,000 priests who have served in the United States since 1984. Even this modest percentage may overstate the problem, since no one would suggest that every member of clergy who stands accused of pedophilia is actually guilty of the crime.
Ms. Demarest’s numbers conform with estimates by Thomas Plante, a California psychologist at Santa Clara University who treats priests who have molested minors. “The best data we have is that approximately 5 percent of priests have a predilection toward minors,” he declared. “That seems consistent with other clergy who are not priests (such as Protestant ministers or rabbis).” Moreover, Plante cites research suggesting that among the general population, 8 percent feel sexually attracted to children – a higher percentage than among priests or other clergy. Such numbers, or course, reflect those who feel sexually drawn to contact with kids, rather than indicating the percentage who actually act upon this inclination.
The Washington Post, an establishment liberal journal with no reason to whitewash the church, approvingly cites Gary Schoener, a psychologist in Minneapolis whose Walk-In Counseling Center has consulted with more than 1,000 victims of sexual abuse by clergy. He also affirms that the percentage of abusers among Catholic priests is no higher than among Protestant ministers.
Why, then, the disproportionate focus on problems within the Church? In part, that emphasis stems from a few truly horrifying high-profile cases and multi-million dollar legal settlements, like the example of Boston’s John Geoghan who personally molested more than 130 children.
Then there is also the status of the Catholic Church as the most visible, powerful religious institution in the world: General resentment of organized religion will often focus on the Church of Rome, the most centrally organized and hierarchical faith on earth.
Finally, many attacks center on the tradition of priestly celibacy, in a spasm of trendy Catholic-bashing that reflects the basest sort of inconsistency. Gay activists and establishment opinion leaders unequivocally insist that homosexual identity is innate and inborn as blue eyes or left-handedness. These same enlightened thinkers then turn around and say that celibacy in the priesthood pushes prelates to pedophilia. If only priests were allowed to marry, the conventional wisdom declares, then they wouldn’t even feel tempted to molest little boys.
This proposition contradicts basic liberal assumptions about gay identity: If a priest is congenitally gay due to factors utterly beyond his control, how could marriage ever re-wire his orientation? This might work only if the Church sanctioned same-sex marriage for its priests, a radical demand that few critics of celibacy dare to advance.
Meanwhile, the tragic experience of child-molesting priests undermines another pillar of politically correct thinking. Gay activists repeatedly insist that pedophilia has no connection to homosexuality – that straight people are just as likely to abuse children as gay people. That contention flies in the face of statistics and experience: Consider the prominent public fascination with underage boys in gay pornography, and even in some of the ads in “mainstream” gay publications. Heterosexuals display no comparable obsession with little girls in their fantasies.
Moreover, nearly all victims of child-molesting priests turned out to be little boys, not little girls. If celibacy caused this problem, rather than homosexuality, why wouldn’t straight priests laboring under the same sexual restrictions abuse girls at least as frequently as their colleagues ravished boys?
This uncomfortable question touches another illogical position of those who want to use this scandal as an excuse to attack a traditionalist church. The same people expressing the most strident condemnation of gay priests molesting young boys, also demand public pressure to force the Boy Scouts to embrace gay scout masters – insisting that such leaders present no danger to our sons.
As a non-Catholic, I feel confident that the Church will eventually clean house and deal with the problems of its clergy. But leftwing critics of the Church may never come to grips with the obvious internal contradictions in their own irrational ideas.
“Hollywood vs. America” is here!
Michael Medved provides provocative insights into the U.S. entertainment industry. Both autographed and unautographed copies now available in WorldNetDaily’s online store.
Medved brings American history alive!
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