Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Preventing Sexual Abuse: "...A Race Without a Finish..."

Civil authority comes with responsibility. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1897-1904)

The stakes are much higher for priests. (Catechism, 553, 1348, 1448, 2686)

One of the world's 407,000 or so Catholic priests misusing their position and authority would be one too many. That said, the recurring pedophile priest story, as presented on old-school news media, is a trifle - - - imaginative.

Sex, Love, and Neighbors

"Abuse report finds few allegations against clergy in 2012"
CNA (May 11, 2013)

"The latest report on child protection in the U.S. Catholic Church found a total of 11 credible allegations of abuse of minors by diocesan clergy in 2012, with a 20 percent decrease in the numbers of new credible abuse allegations about incidents in the past 60 years...."
Since some American subcultures have odd notions about Catholics or religion in general, and sex, here's a quick look at what the Catholic Church says:1
Maybe you know a Catholic who says sex is icky, that hating some group of people is okay, or has other goofy ideas. Some of the billion or so living Catholics don't know our faith very well: a sad situation, but all too real.

Finally, about rape: Forcing someone to have sex is bad; someone who is responsible for children raping those children is really bad. (Catechism, 2356)

Cleaning up a Mess: Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (CPCYP)

"Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, the U.S. bishops' conference president, said in reaction to the report that Catholic bishops renew their 'steadfast resolution' not to lessen their commitment to protect children and young people.

" 'We seek with equal determination to promote healing and reconciliation for those harmed in the past, and to assure that our audits continue to be credible and maintain accountability in our shared promise to protect and our pledge to heal,' Cardinal Dolan said May 10, the U.S. bishops' conference reports.

"The 2012 report on the implementation of the U.S. bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was authored for the National Review Board and for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by the bishops' Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection...."
Again, one rape is bad: one too many. Some priests really did force children, youth, and adults, into sexual acts. One incident like that would be one too many.

Despite culturally-normative assumptions in my native land, the Catholic Church does not promote rape, prostitution, or adultery. We do organize Bingo games, and that's another topic. (November 18, 2012)

Abuse, Yes; Widespread, No; Recent, Not So Much

"...The report, drawing from the Georgetown University-based Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, found 11 credible allegations that diocesan clergy and one credible accusation that a member of a religious order or institute committed offenses against minors in 2012. This represents a slight increase from the seven credible abuse allegations concerning the years 2010-2011...."
About 59 hundredths of one percent of the 53,000 Catholic priests and deacons in America were accused of sexual abuse in 2012. Yet again, one such incident would be one too many.

Many of those individuals will not be punished, either by American courts or by the Catholic Church: because they're dead. That's not too surprising, since most of the alleged incidents happened in the '70s and '80's: three or four decades ago.

Yes, there were worse things than Disco.2

Dead Abusers, Living Victims

That CNA article includes quite a few statistics. That sort of thing fascinates me, your experience may vary.

Here's a sort of summary of what that CPCYP report says about reporting dioceses and eparchies3 in America:
  • There are more than
    • 38,000 priests
    • 15,000 deacons
  • During 2012
    • 390 new credible allegations
      • Made against 313 diocesan priests or deacons
        • Mainly concerning claims from the seventies or eighties
      • One percent of the allegations concern permanent deacons
      • About 60 percent of accused perpetrators had prior allegations against them
      • Most of the accused have
        • Died or
        • Been removed from ministry
    • In diocesan allegations
      • About 84 percent of abuse victims were male
      • Abuse disproportionately began when victims were aged 10-14
      • Only about one in ten allegations were
        • Considered unsubstantiated or
        • Determined to be false
      • Costs totaled almost $113 million
        • Legal settlements
        • Attorney fees
        • Therapy for victims
        • Offender support
    • Religious orders and institutes
      • 74 new credible abuse allegations reported
        • About half were made against someone who had been accused earlier
      • financial costs of abuse totaled $20,100,000
  • People who have undergone safe environment training
    • Over 99 percent of priests, deacons and educators at Catholic institutions
    • Close to 98 percent of candidates for ordination
    • Almost
      • 98 percent of church volunteers
      • 97 percent of church employees
The report covers years from 2004 to 2012. Of those nine years, cleaning up the mess left by abuse was least  expensive in 2012; most expensive in 2007, at $500,000,000 for that year.

Suspicion and Burning Crosses

That's more of an estimate, than a solid number, since child protection programs have a lot of staff turnover. Worse, most diceses and eparchies weren't willing to let Stonebridge Business Partners do on-site audits. Considering America's tradition of anti-Catholicism, I think I understand their diffidence, and that's yet another topic.

Still, expecting the auditors to work only with what dioceses and eparchies tell them allows too much room for suspicion. My opinion.

Then there's flat-out refusal to cooperate:
"...The Diocese of Lincoln and five Eastern Catholic eparchies have refused to be audited and are not in compliance with the bishops' charter for child protection. The Dioceses of Lake Charles, La., Tulsa, Okla. and Baker, Ore. were each found non-compliant with one requirement of the charter...."
Although it's been a century or more since killing Catholics, burning our property, or planting a burning cross in front of a Catholic Church were popular pastimes among some American subcultures: that sort of thing tends to leave an impression. Even so, I hope those dioceses are doing an extremely good job of policing their own folks.

I suspect that one reason for the Catholic Church apparent inaction on claims of sexual abuse was that it was hard to tell the difference between sincere allegations and the sort of weird Maria Monk stories and Thomas Nast attitudes. (September 26, 2008)

Now that we know the problem is real, there's work to be done. Lots of work.
"...Al J. Notzon, III, chairman of the National Review Board overseeing the audit, stressed the importance of keeping good records and involving parishes in the auditing process.

" 'Abuse happened in the parishes where our children learn and live their young, growing faith,' Notzon said. 'What we have come to see is that protecting children from sexual abuse is a race without a finish and more rather than less effort is necessary to keep this sacred responsibility front and center.'"
Related posts:

1 Background:
More, about Social Justice
2 I have nothing against Disco as music, but I was there in its heyday: and remember hearing disco over and over and over again. After a while, the appeal of its boom-boom beat fades a trifle.

3 An eparchy is a diocese of the Eastern Orthodox Church.

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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.