Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Fr. Frank Pavone's Thoughts for this Past Week

Comment By Jay Cuasay

[Fr. Frank Pavone publishes a weekly column “My Thoughts about this past week” on Catholic Exchange. The following is a response to his April 4, 2005 column published April 6, 2005 by Catholic Exchange. Full text available at http://catholicexchange.com/vm/index.asp?vm_id=72&art_id=28088].

"United in faith" I do not see that grieving Schiavo's "murder" and "mourning JPII's passing" are of the same category. However, a parallel that I have NOT seen written about that ties the same respect for life and human dignity espoused by JPII and is deserving of scrutiny and criticism is the lack of accountability and initial move to secrecy that surrounded the priest sex abuse scandal, for which the church (and the pope in particular) were rightly excoriated, and the utter *lack* of similar interest and resolve to investigate, monitor and call into account flagrant human rights violations legitimized by the U.S. military structure and condoned by the present administration.

If the pictures from Abu Ghraib or the tortures and violations attested to elsewhere had instead been depictions of priest's simply "performing their duties" how would that have played out? How should the faithful and supporters of a "Culture of Life" have responded, especially for a war much of the world and the pope himself disagreed with? How do we legitimize such acts and give soldiers, the military, the commander in chief, such a free pass and allow this administration to so freely share "pro-life" language?

Will we with equal vigor, faith, and conviction, laud similar praises for such examples or seek instead proper judgment and accountability?

Jay Cuasay/CIA
Communications Interfaith Activism


TG said...

Hi Jay,

While I appreciate your thoughts and concern about the priest sex abuse scandal, I would just hope you would add some context and perspective to them.

According to a study conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, (hardly an institution of any sectarian favoritism), and released Feb. 27, 2002, the total number of priests ACCUSED (not all convicted, that is) of sex abuse during the past fifty year period from 1950 to 2002 amounted to 4% of the total number of Catholic priests in the U.S. during that period. More specifically,it amounted to 4,392 priests ACCUSED (not convicted) of sex abuse, out ot a total of 109,694 priests in the U.S.

The Washington Post, not a sectarian mouthpiece by any means, updated the study more recetly and reportred on Feb. 19, 2005 that the number of priests ACCUSED (not convicted) of sex abuse stood at 5,148, representing an additional 800+ priests or so accused from 2002 to 2005 that can be said to be added to the figures of the John Jay study.

Well, in short, do you view the great probability that all in all 96% of all priests in the U.S. apparently either may not have committed or at lesst not been charged with having committed sex abuse, something to sneeze at? Would you be able to determine whether percentages or ratios of individuals accused of sex abuse in other walks of live, like, the educational systems the entertainment industry, or the professions, and so on, if any studies may have been made for the rest of society, fares or does any better or worse, or is about at the same level. Could this mean the root of the problem as far as priests are concerned, is not necessarily anything connected to church dogma, beliefs or practices?

My thoughts at any rate.



J A Y @ C I A said...

Hi T:
I'm inclined to think that the root of the sex abuse scandal so far as it pertains to the people who committed these acts has less to do with church dogma, beliefs or practices and more to do with human nature. I certainly don't think the dogma, beliefs and practices of our church *taught* someone to behave this way.

A stronger case could be made in my military analogy to say that soldiers are actually trained and perhaps even ordered to do things that in hindsight and review actually are not acceptable. In which case, the accountability for that and even the public outcry for that, would seem to be more immediate and obvious. Such has not been the case.

As far as your cited stats, clearly most priests are not sex offenders. Most soldiers do not do barbarous acts either. Clearly the people who do need some kind of treatment. My focus was not on the largely well functioning church, militiary, priests or soldiers, but what seems to be an inconsistency in the moral response to their respective "scandals". For the church, the critical response for the handling of the affair became a very public issue of leadership and accountability. I think this was a good thing. I didn't detect a similar scrutiny and follow through in the coverage of prisoner abuses. And I think there should be. Not because I think that addresses root problems for which one simply rails against institutions, but because I tend to find leadership that is accountable to be more believable.

Thanks for your thoughts.