Sunday, March 28, 2010

Episode 65 Scandal

The Catholic child abuse scandal which began decades ago in the United States has now gone international. In the past few months hundreds of accusations have been made in Ireland, the Netherlands, Austria and Germany. Alarming new evidence suggests Pope Benedict himself ignored, refused to discipline and even approved the transfer of known pedophiles in the Church. Defenders of the Church claim the anti-catholic media is conducting a smear campaign. Abuse is no greater in the Catholic Church than any similar institution and Benedict, they say, has been at the forefront of efforts to reform church laws and prevent abuse. Join us as we counter these claims by reviewing available research on child abuse, the history of the scandal, and the details of Ratzingers own involvement.

To download this or any previous Reasonable Doubts episodes click here. Find the episode you want and right click the "play now" link and select "save target as..."

News Links:

Bottoms, Shaver, Goodman & Qin (1995). In the name of God: A profile of religion-related child abuse. Journal of Social Issues, 51, 85-111

Chibnal, Wolf & Dukro (1998). A national survey of the sexual trauma experiences of Catholic nuns. Review of Religious Research, 40, 142-167

Fones, Levine, Althof, Risen (1999). The sexual struggles of 23 clergyman: A follow-up study. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 25, 183-195

Greeley, A.M. (1993). How serious is the problem of sexual abuse by clergy? America, 168, 20-27

Schaffer, M.D. (1990, August 15). Sex a special challenge for many clergy members. The Denver Post, p.6B

Sipe, A.W.R (1990). A secret world: Sexuality and the search for celibacy. New York: Brunner/Mazel

Sipe, A.W.R. (1995). Sex, priests, and power: Anatomy of a crisis. New York: Brunner/Mazel


Luke said...

YES! Links and research citations! You guys rock!

Johan said...

I found your treatment of the pope's view on capitalism and liberation theology somewhat misleading. The Church's teachings are clearly anti-communist and they do support a system of private property but their teaching is hardly libertarian either. (Unfortunately.)

Here is a statement of Mr Ratzinger himself on liberation theology.

It seams to me that he objects to adopting marxism but not necessarily other ideologies that are anti-capitalist. He especially can not accept analyzing the church's own theology in marxist term or suggesting that political action is more important that salvation.

He does not however say that it is wrong to criticize capitalism or that many of the purely political demands of the liberation theologians can't be right. Now I have not read everything that the pope has written on the subject but everything I have heard indicates that the pope is deeply skeptical of "unrestrained" capitalism.

Jeremy said...


Somewhat misleading? We didnt treat the subject in any way...we were just chatting at the end of the show(I think people sometimes have difficulty telling the difference with us). Luke said he was surprised the priest in Moores film was so socialist because the previous Pope John Paul tried to reign in political activism of the church in Latin america. I said liberation theology is still alive in South America and Africa. That was it.

Thank you for your info though, if we do a show on liberation theology and the Church's views on capitalism I will be sure to look through it.

Joan said...

I think it's obvious why the Catholic Church has such a big problem with molestation compared to other institutions. It is a massive, extremely wealthy and politically/legally powerful organization that actively protects wrong-doers. If someone with a propensity to molest is part of an organization that will protect them, what incentive do they have to not act on that propensity?

A clergy person in a smaller institution or a secular institution, such as a school or hospital, doesn't have this level of protection. So, if they act on their desires there is always a possibility of getting caught and facing consequences? If the Catholic Church had always had a policy of marching offenders to the nearest police station, the number of molesting priests would not exceed the Catholic portion of the population.

As for secularism causing this crisis, the Pope is out of his mind. I grew up in Ireland in the 1980s. It's becoming more secular now but Ireland was about as far as you could get from being secular prior to the 1990s. The church basically ran the country in the 50s and 60s when much of this molestation was going on.

This scandal proves that religion does nothing to promote morality and can often undermine it. If you believe that Jesus died for your sins and you won't be held accountable in an afterlife because you accept him as your savior, why be moral? Sure, the victims will suffer in this life but they'll go onto eternal bliss in the next life, so why worry about them? It will all work out in the end. These are dangerous doctrines that can only bring out the worst in mankind.

Taylor said...

Good strong program.

One point that I think you neglected to highlight was the *hypocrisy* of the Church's behavior. It isn't necessary to show that they behave worse than other organizations, the fact that they fail to behave better, much better, undermines their claim to any moral superiority. Instead, the motivation to clean house is coming from secular institutions.

Moreover, it calls into question the claim that the institution was divinely ordained by God; if that were true, you'd expect that God would be working a little harder to keep its members on the straight and narrow.

Sabio Lantz said...

Superb, keep it coming !!

Anonymous said...

This episode just drips with schadenfreude.

Jeremy said...

Yeah. But when hypocrites and criminals have their deeds dragged out into the light of day for everyone to see, it feels like a little victory. Unfortunately we'll have to settle for this.

Anonymous said...

Fine show, and all good info.
From the more radical side, I want to express a linguistic matter that will go absolutely nowhere, but still occupies a slice of my mind.
If we were talking about a criminal conspiracy involving the KKK, we wouldn't use the honorific "Grand Wizard" when referring to a convicted arsonist. When talking about the Mafia, I don't feel obligated to put "Capo di TuttiCcapi" in front of a mobster's last name. As a lifelong egalitarian, I do not feel compelled to employ honorifics that bizarre cults bestow upon their acolytes. So, for me, there is no "Father" Murphy, or "Reverend" J. Pedophile, just a Mr. I understand that we are far too deeply colonized by religion to use this effectively, but there's always hope for the future.
From: Martin

Jeremy said...

Such terms express their rank within the church.

Unknown said...

I personally think that every single one that has been accused should be investigated and convicted if there is enough evidence to press charges. I don't think that wearing the vestments of any religious denomination should prevent investigation of charges and punishment through the judicial system if there is sufficient proof of crimes having been committed. Nor should the obstruction of justice by religious entities go unpunished.

Anonymous said...

You are certainly entitled to your non-response about the honorifics, but I had the best moment of my commuting week when I listened to Dan Barker address a debate partner, the Archbishop of Sydney or somesuch, as "George."
As I pointed out to you, religion has long used its entirely specious honorifics to intimidate its way to alleged superior rank and standing, particularly so in the gruesomely named "Father" pedophiles. If that's fine with you, Exalted Cyclops of the Third Wintergreen Jeremy, then that's how it shall be.

Jeremy said...

I agree with you in one to one conversation. But when you're covering that many names to report a story it would be a real pain in the ass to deliberately leave out rank. Its a time saver.

Taylor said...

I think Anonymous is suggesting that by using their titles, you've implicitly bought into just a bit of their worldview and have granted them some status you don't have. Pointedly using their proper names removes that status.

I think it's a great point.

Jeremy said...

I get it. Its not a bad point. But (IMHO) its not really a great point either. Its one of those trivial things atheists do to show their ideological purity. Like deliberately not saying "god bless you" when someone sneezes, and then pointing that out to everyone present. Who cares? Save it for the battles worth fighting. Besides, how many of these titles are actually "honorific"? Vicar, Bishop, Archbishop, Cardinal, Pope - these are all title of rank.

Heres where I agree with Anon...I try to avoid the title Reverend. And if you are sitting across the table from a priest dont call him father. It sounds like Barker had the right idea.

But if you're covering a story that involves the Church hierarchy itself, where it is important to distinguish between the priesthood and the laity... these titles contain useful information. It would be silly to avoid using titles of rank at that point.

Honestly imagine trying to follow this episode if we removed all mention of rank and just referred to these guys by their proper names (or inserted "who holds/held the title of" after every name).

Anonymous said...

Easy, there, Jermey - nobody said you had to remove all the titles of rank that the cult bestows on its adherents. As I said, too cumbersome. Yet you then become querulous and tendentious:
"one of those trivial things
atheists do to show their
ideological purity. Like
deliberately not saying
"god bless you" when someone
sneezes, and then pointing
that out to everyone present.
Who cares? Save it for the
battles worth fighting."
Why the rejectionism? You want to have an "Doubtcast" and then argue, "Who cares?" I care - egalitarianism is a little more noble than the use of honorific of "Father" by a "Father Murphy" when inveigling underage boys to see him as a "father" entitled to use his "sons" for sex.
You want to hold onto colonial ways, fine- but just try saying "Mr" next time a "Father" is about to get indicted.
Since talk is cheap, we can pick our battles - and learn from each other.

Jeremy said...

Thats exactly what I'm talking about. Hours spent researching the the cases, listening to the apologists, looking up the psych research...and people want to get into arguments about what title to call the guy.

(and suddenly Im reminded that if all of us were in a room talking about this over a beer, it would be a short, polite digression. ahhh the internet)

Jarek said...

When are they going to arrest the Catholic Church and invade the Vatican already? We've got probable cause!

Johan said...

Okay, you have probably heard by now about the claim that part of the NYT's sources in the Murphy case were faked. Any comment?

Unknown said...

The link for "Stats on American victims from John Jay College" is not working. Do you have a better link?

Jeremy said...

I had not heard that anything was forged. I have read claims that the times did not consult the Vatican "judge" in charge of the Murphy case, that they mistranslated an Italian word in the documents as saying "secret" when it really meant "strong". And was claimed that vagueness in some parts of the article was misleading. I plan on addressing these in the next show. But if you are aware of something else please send me a link as soon as you can, because we are recording tomorrow.

Johan said...

No what I read was referring to the same thing. The blog I read used the term forgery but it was referring to the same text by Thomas Brundage as you are thinking of.

Anonymous said...

The term moral bankruptcy comes to mind. It is one thing to maintain a policy of covering up pedophilia for decades, it is another thing to wave away the criticism of such by construeing a conspiracy theory of journalists attacking the vatican. All this without even mentioning the victims. If this is the much appraised divinely inspired moral in action, even atheists are starting to hope for judgement day.

lafens said...

I'm intrigued that you draw the conclusion that there's "something about Catholicism" that drives the higher molestation rate among priests. I wholeheartedly agree. It's clearly something worth analyzing.

Can we now similarly contemplate that there may be "something about Islam" that drives the violence, misogyny, intolerance exhibited to a much higher degree in Islamic societies? Because it seems more often than not the same equivalence argument is made to rationalize Islam's faults that Catholics are using now.

MikeyM said...

Another excellent show. Bill Donohue's "powerful therapy industry" excuse is ludicrous given that the Church's own therapists advised the Vatican that treatment of these child rapists was futile:

"In 1947, Father Gerald Fitzgerald founded the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez, New Mexico—the same institution Father Poole was to visit almost 50 years later.

In a 1957 letter to the Bishop of Manchester, Father Fitzgerald wrote that predatory priests (who he euphemistically refers to as "schizophrenic") cannot be effectively treated and should not be allowed to continue in the ministry:

'Their repentance and amendment is superficial and, if not formally at least subconsciously, is motivated by a desire to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity. A new diocese means only green pastures... We are amazed to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum [the cure, or care, of souls].'

By the early 1960s, Father Fitzgerald had seen enough chronic pedophiles that he did not want to treat them and have them rereleased into the ministry, but, as he proposed in a letter to Archbishop Davis, to build an "island retreat... but even an island is too good for these vipers."'

From an article detailing decades of child rape among Native Alaskans:

Unknown said...

I loooooove the links and citations. I think that's the one thing your show is lacking. It would be great if you did this more often. :D

Unknown said...

Hey guys - the link for the John Jay stats aren't working for me, either. I smell a conspiracy. ;)

Footnote: my captcha reads "genes." Just thought I'd share.

Oh, and great episode as usual.

Anonymous said...

I really like this picture of the pope - it is like he is a naughty little school boy being caught out with something, or he is trying to be cheeky in some way. Either way it's quite funny.