Guardian Says Culture of Child Abuse “Persists” in US Catholicism

This is a couple of weeks old, but I’ve just seen it and it ought to be commented on. From the Guardian:

Ongoing child sex abuse in Catholic church casts shadow on pope’s US visit

For decades, the locker rooms at Chaminade College Preparatory School in St Louis were a place of terror for several students aged 11 to 18, who as adults have filed lawsuits against the school alleging widespread sexual abuse by its staff.

…The story is a familiar one across the US, where the culture of child sex abuse in Catholic organizations persists.

The story highlights calls by activists for more stringent safeguarding, and criticisms that allegations are being mishandled. However, despite the headline, the article actually focuses on historical cases rather than “ongoing child sex abuse” (the Chaminade College opener refers to allegations relating the 1960s and 1970s); and although the article’s author has clearly decided that these complaints are valid, the phrase “culture of child sex abuse” is jarring.

Not a “culture of complacency”, or a “culture of cover-up” (propositions which I certainly wouldn’t dismiss out-of-hand) – but a culture in which sex with children is regarded as normal, or even encouraged. Catholic churches, schools, hospitals, and other institutions are basically paedophile rings. Really?

It seems to me that this line – introduced into the text casually, as if it isn’t even controversial – is inflammatory and gratuitous. And I really cannot imagine the Guardian writing in such a way about a mainstream non-Christian religious group.

The only specific example of “ongoing abuse” appears elliptically via a link:

Priests accused of sex abuse have been able to move to other states and countries and receive money from local diocese.

The second link above refers to the current circumstances of an elderly priest who committed abuse in 1970s and 1980s, so that’s hardly “ongoing abuse”; the former, however, takes us to a recent article about a Filipino priest in Oregon who appears to have fled the country after evidence came to light that he had been using a hidden camera to spy on a young boy in a bathroom.

The Guardian here heavily implies that the priest has simply been moved along with the Church’s collusion, but the linked source (the Oregonian) makes it clear that the local bishop had placed him on leave and was cooperating with police, and that the priest had left the USA against his wishes.

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