Friday, November 18, 2011

Return of the Pedophile Priests Rides Again: The Sequel

Penn State's former assistant football coach, Jerry Sandusky, has been accused of sexually abusing boys. I don't know whether or not he's guilty, and hope the mess gets sorted out quickly and with justice.

The only opinion I've formed about the case is that Mr. Sandusky doesn't seem to know how to keep quiet:
"...During the phone interview, Costas asked Sandusky he was 'completely innocent and falsely accused in every aspect,' the latter replied: 'Well I could say that, you know, I have done some of those things. I have horsed around with kids. I have showered after workouts. I have hugged them and I have touched their leg. Without intent of sexual contact.'..."
(The Hollywood Reporter)
The quotes I've read remind me of the old "I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the communist party" thing from the 'good old days' of McCarthyism. And no, I don't think Mr. Sandusky is a commie. I don't think the accusations against him are part of a commie plot, either.

Jerry Sandusky and the Pedophile Priests?

Mr. Sandusky's situation may be presented as part of the pedophile priests 'crisis:' unless news editors decide their readers aren't quite ready for another West Coast offense like the one we saw a couple years ago. (I know: but that football term sounded too cool to ignore.)

I'll get back to Mr. Sandusky and the pedophile priests later.

Here We Go Again?

I started posting about news and the 'pedophile priests' two years ago, and started a link list when the news item kept resurfacing:

Rape isn't Nice, and We Shouldn't Do It

Given the impression some folks have of 'those Catholics,' I'd better clarify a few points.

What (some) priests did to (some) people over the last half-century was bad. It was wrong. It was not right.

What (some) bishops did, in an effort to cover up an errant priest's wrongdoing, was bad. It was wrong. It was not right.

And rape is wrong. Very wrong. It is a bad thing to do, and we shouldn't do it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2356) It's really bad when someone in a position of trust is the rapist:
"...It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2356)

"News" That's Not New

I have no problem with news services running stories about accusations against a priest. Provided that:
  • Facts and allegations are sorted out
    • And identified as such
  • Allegations made decades ago identified a such
  • The same allegation isn't re-packaged in 'like-new condition'
    • Even if it's a slow day for news
Maybe I'm too picky. 'News' can be defined as 'anything that's in a newspaper:'
  • news (noun)
    1. Information about recent and important events
    2. Information reported in a newspaper or news magazine
    3. A program devoted to current events, often using interviews and commentary
    4. Informal information of any kind that is not previously known to someone
    5. The quality of being sufficiently interesting to be reported in news bulletins
    (Princeton's WordNet)
Definition 2 lets anything "in a newspaper or news magazine" be called 'news,' provided that readers assume it's factual. Number 5 tells us that anything "sufficiently interesting to be reported in news bulletins" is news. Which helps explain headlines in those supermarket tabloids.

Using those definitions, I can't complain about news services picking up a decades-old accusation about a priest - and presenting it as 'news.' Because anything that readers might be interested in is 'news.'

Penn State Sex Scandal - and an Archbishop

What got me started on this post actually is 'news,' even by my rather finicky standards. It's about something that really happened. Recently:
"Bishop: Penn State scandal reopens church wounds"
Rachel Zoll, AP Religion Writer, Associated Press (November 15, 2011)

"The Penn State scandal over a former football coach accused of sexually abusing young boys 'reopens a wound' for the U.S. Roman Catholic Church, a leading bishop said Monday.

"Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the crisis reminds the bishops of their own failures to protect children.

"In the church, the case of one abusive priest in the Archdiocese of Boston in 2002 led to years of revelations that bishops throughout the country had moved guilty priests among churches without alerting parents or police. At Penn State, former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky has been charged with sexually assaulting eight boys over 15 years, and school administrators have been accused of not doing enough to stop suspected abuse when it was reported to them. Sandusky has pleaded not guilty.

" 'It reopens a wound in the church as well,' said Dolan, the New York archbishop. 'We once again hang our heads in shame.'..."
My hat's off to Rachel Zoll. The article is a fairly straightforward piece of reporting, following a pattern I learned back in journalism class.

I also think that the USCCB's Archbishop Timothy Dolan made a smart move with that statement. Acknowledging past wrongdoings may make associating the latest high-profile sex scandal with Catholic priests a little harder. Or, not.

Lessons Learned From the Movies

Folks who make movies are savvy enough to recognize a profitable formula. Take film adaptations of Mary Shelly's "Frankenstein," for example:
And, of course:
For durability, though, I think that blood-sucking aristocrat deserves special mention: "Dracula;" "Dracula;" "Dracula;" "Dracula;" and, one of my favorites, "Dracula." (1931; 1958; 1979; 1992 and 1973) And that's another topic. (Apathetic Lemming of the North (October 14, 2009))

Maybe news editors took a page from Hollywood's playbook, and recognize 'pedophile priests' stories as a marketable formula.

In America, at least, there are many folks who always seem ready for one more remake of Maria Monk's "...Awful Disclosures...."1

Then there were Thomas Nast's efforts to warn the American public of the perils of creeping Catholicism:


(From Thomas Nast Portfolio, Ohio State University, used without permission.)

And that's yet another topic.

Related posts:
News and views:
1 Maria Monk's book, "The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, as Exhibited in a Narrative of Her Sufferings During a Residence of Five Years as a Novice and Two Years as a Black Nun, in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery in Montreal," is usually called "The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk," for obvious reasons.

It's a Canadian tale, but quite popular south of the border. As I said in another post (September 28, 2011), "anti-Catholicism is as American as apple pie. But not as healthy."

Between Bible-thumpers and secularists who get conniptions about any religion, it's small wonder that odd ideas about Catholics and Catholicism are endemic, at least in America:

2 comments:

Brigid said...

Stutter: "Penn State's former former assistant football coach"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...

Brigid,

Found, fixed, and thanks thanks! ;)

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.