Whenever I take on a large institution or organization, I try to avoid applying the kind of broad brush strokes that would condemn the whole group for the actions of a few. The truth is, the vast majority of law enforcement officers serve with honor and distinction, there are some stellar individuals in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, and, though they’re in the minority, the 16th Circuit plays host to some truly great judges.
The failure to acknowledge those basic realities would greatly weaken my case as a journalist. It’s the whole baby and bathwater thing.
But as I read column after column on the Grand Jury report covering 70 years of priest sexual abuse in six separate Pennsylvania Dioceses, especially considering what’s previously been brought to light, I think it’s time to relegate the Catholic Church to history’s dustbin.
And I say that despite my former fondness for Pope Frank, who only addressed that report when he had no choice but to acknowledge its existence. The “highlights” include:
- 300 priests abusing at least 1,000 children
- A bishop who actively aided and abetted their behavior
- An organized coverup the Grand Jury called “a playbook for concealing the truth”
- Some of the priests ran a child porn ring sharing nude photographs and their victims
Just when you think it couldn’t possibly get any worse, two of the dioceses sued to keep the report from going public. The specific criminal acts cited include:
- A priest groomed middle-school students for sex by telling them that Mary had to “bite off the cord” and “lick” Jesus clean after the Nativity.
- A priest abused five sisters from the same family, collecting samples of their urine, pubic hair and menstrual blood.
- A Harrisburg priest raped a 7-year-old girl who was in the hospital to have her tonsils removed.
- A Pittsburgh priest admitted to “sado-masochistic” activities with several boys.
- An Allentown priest begged for help after molesting a young boy but was left at his church for several more years.
- A priest who regularly abused boys was given a recommendation to work at Disney World.
- A Scranton priest, sentenced to jail for abusing children, was found to have been HIV-positive for years.
The horrifying fallout from this kind of institutionalized child rape are truly terrifying. It’s a long litany of suicides, lifelong addiction, depression, and generally shattered lives. And the bishop who presided over this, Cardinal Don Wuerl, continues to cling to the notion that he did everything he could do to protect the victims.
Washington Times columnist Megan McArdle accurately called it “the bureaucratization of evil.”
Especially as a former Catholic, with these latest accusations, I don’t see how anyone who still attends Sunday mass can pawn this massive moral failing at every level off on “a few bad apples.” Every single sexual abuse report depicts a Church hierarchy that did their damndest to protect themselves and predator priests at the expense of a growing trail of young victims.
And when the apple is this rotten, it’s time to put away the paring knife and throw it out.
Some Catholics are calling for married and female priests, both good thoughts, but that won’t necessarily make a difference. As long as the hierarchy is willing to move predator priests and suffers no consequence for their complicity, the Catholic Church will continue to be a playground for pedophiles.
Not only is there absolutely no evidence they’re going to step up this time, but the folks at the Vatican seem to be going into full bunker mode.
The statute of limitations has run out on all but two of these PA cases, but that doesn’t mean the Church can’t clean house. And that means stripping every last priest, bishop, archbishop, or cardinal who or participated in this travesty, or simply looked the other way, of their collar.
That’s what Jesus would do!
Until Rome takes that immensely necessary step, I don’t see how any self-respecting Catholic can set foot in a church, send their children to the local parish school, or donate one red cent, because that kind of tacit support would also be aiding and abetting these rapes.
What if it were Imams?
Though I’m seeing more Catholics reach the point of no return than ever before, despite decades of the most horrific kind of institutionalized sexual abuse of children, the majority of the faithful are sticking with their Church. They somehow remain hopeful, and even confident, that the same leaders who presided over this complete moral failure will somehow be the ones to fix it.
But that’s just another example of white privilege rearing its ugly head. Here’s what I mean!
Imagine if a grand jury solicited a similar report on a series of Muslim mosques and schools. The cries of “Sharia Law,” the calling for the Imams’ heads, and the shrieks and howls of conservative Catholics everywhere would be deafening.
But when it’s their own house that’s rotting from within, they don’t seem quite as ready to apply the same standard. That’s privilege at its best folks!
The threat almost always comes from within!
As it turns out, two of the Pennsylvania priests accused of sexually abusing children and people with disabilities are currently residing in the the Saint John Vianney Villas, a home for retired priests in Naperville, sitting directly adjacent to Lisle’s Kennedy Junior High School.
And as you might imagine, those parents are none too happy about it.
So, the middle school is “adjusting” campus usage, increasing supervision schedules, and asking for a Lisle police presence during arrival and pickup times. Concerned neighbors are attempting to recruit a large enough group to get the Joliet Diocese to move the priests elsewhere.
While these are all reasonable concerns, the underlying assumption seems to be that these local pedophiles will lunge from their residence to grab middle schoolers off the street. And I get it, because whenever we use the word “rape,” it implies the use of physical force.
But that’s not nearly the case when it comes to child sexual abuse.
The odds of your child being grabbed on the street by a random abductor is 1 in 300,000, or .0003 percent. The truth is that approximately 90 percent of childhood sexual abuse victims were “groomed” by their abusers.
And this is especially the case when it comes to religious authority figures like priests.
Step one is to target a child with low self-esteem. Step two is to gain the parents’, and particularly a single parent’s, trust. Step three is to make them believe their child is special through compliments, gifts, and time spent with them. Step four is to set up situations where the abuser is alone with the child. Step five is to sexualize the relationship and step six is to maintain control through secrecy, threats, and blame.
It’s a process that takes a great deal of time, energy and effort, and thus, is easily detectable.
I’m not saying Kennedy School shouldn’t take those precautions. What I am saying is too many parents believe these feel-good surface shifts are all that’s necessary to prevent the problem, but they aren’t. It takes a constant vigilance to safeguard our children from a sexual abuse threat that almost always comes from within.
Put more simply, if your gut is telling you that a friend or authority figure is far too interested in your young son or daughter, it’s probably right. That’s the time to pay heed to that kind of intuition. All the “stranger danger” thing does is provide a smokescreen for the real abusers.