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Monday, October 22, 2007



It will be interesting to see how much attention this gets. Prediction: it will get little attention and a not insignificant portion of the attention it does get will be devoted to denouncing the investigation and defending the public schools.

I base my prediction on what happened when Hofstra University Professor Carol Shakeshaft published a report in 2004 about abuse in the public schools. The report, which was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education pursuant to a mandate of the "No Child Left Behind" legislation, found that sexual abuse in the public schools was widespread. Generally speaking, the reaction to the Shakeshaft report was to denounce it and rush to the defense of the public schools. The irony is that those had this reaction were in many cases the loudest in denouncing Catholic bishops for looking the other way with regard to sexual abuse.

The scandal in the Church of course will always be worse because the Church is, and should be, held to a higher standard. Although statistical evidence about the incidence of sexual abuse in the public schools is sketchy (the Shakeshaft report was very preliminary), it appears that at the nadir of the Church's sex abuse scandal the incidence of sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic priests approached or equaled that of society at large. In my opinion it is not a coincidence that this descent to worldly levels of sexual sin was perpetrated in large part by priests who advocated that the Church conform to the standards of the world.


Now we can look forward to the discussions about doing away with the requirement of celibacy and allowing school teachers to be married ... oh ... wait ... right!

And I wonder if the states will change the statute of limitation laws to account for longer periods of time between the abuse and when the lawyers can sue the pants off the schools ... oh ... wait. I'll get blue while holding my breath.

And I'm sure you intended no pun with "modest theory" in that modesty is not much admired nor advocated by society at large ...

Christine the Soccer Mom

I wonder how many of the same people who left the Church because of the Scandal would also be willing to suddenly switch to homeschooling in order to get away from predatory teachers?

Or will they be able to separate the message from the messengers?

Michael Joseph

If people raise a louder outcry over priestly child-abuse than they do over teach child-abuse, it is because they hold the Catholic Church to a moral higher standard. And why shouldn't they? Do we not believe that we are the church founded by Jesus Christ, supported by His sacraments and the ongoing guidance of the Holy Spirit? I think the saddest thing one can say about all this is that Catholics (even priests) turn out to be no better, on average, than the non-catholic population. One had hopes for so much more.

Carl Olson

If people raise a louder outcry over priestly child-abuse than they do over teach child-abuse, it is because they hold the Catholic Church to a moral higher standard.

That is true for some people, and I understand and respect this line of thinking. We Catholics should hold ourselves to a higher standard, not because we are naturally better than others, of course, but because we should know better than most the reality of sin and should being living lives of notable holiness. But if, as all reasonable and decent people agree, child abuse is one of the most henious of crimes, shouldn't people be gravely concerned that it is apparently so widespread (and so often ignored) in the public school system? Especially when some 90% of America's children will, at some point, be within that system? Especially when that system enjoys an incredible amount of power and influence? Especially when it is widely assumed that the public school system is a sort of semi-sacred sanctuary of the enlightened secular state?

I say "true for some people" because it is clear to me that some people have taken a vicious delight in exposing sex abuse among Catholic clergy, as though they have more interest in using the mortal sins of certain priests to denounce or destroy the Catholic Church as a whole than they do in exposing evil and protecting children. I suspect that many of those who hate the Church will have little interest in addressing the abuses occurring within the school system; in fact, I won't be surprised if they attempt to deny or downplay what is happening there.

This isn't an issue of "tit for tat," nor should it be used by Catholics as a way of distracting from real problems within the Catholic Church. But there is nothing wrong in being concerned about what may very well be (and I strongly suspect is) a dark story of immense proportions. Citizens and parents—whether Catholic, Protestant, Jew, atheist, etc.—should have no reservations about demanding the truth about what has happened and is happening to children in the public school system. But I suspect that little to no transparency or accountability is going to be forthcoming, although I hope I am dead wrong on that count.


If people raise a louder outcry over priestly child-abuse than they do over teach child-abuse, it is because they hold the Catholic Church to a moral higher standard.
And why shouldn't they?
Why not, but you overlook something. The media touted as their main concern the injustice done to the victims. They show no such concern when dealing with the schools. Therein lies the inconsistency.

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