The Atheist Sex Scandal Part 1


I’ve talked a lot more about the Catholic Church here than I had intended to, so I’ve decided to break this part of the discussion up into two parts. I will discuss atheism in the next post. In this post, I will be looking at the accusations made against both Catholic clergy (and certain lay-members who used their position within the church to commit abuse). I will also look at lawsuits connected to the accusations. I will not discuss every accusation, but I will provide links for anyone interested in finding out more about these issues.
What is the sex abuse scandal within the Church? According to Wikipedia, “The Catholic sex abuse cases are a series of allegations, investigations, trials and convictions of child sexual abuse crimes committed by Catholic priests, nuns and members of Roman Catholic orders against children as young as three years old with the majority between the ages of 11 and 14. The accusations first started to receive wide publicity in the late 1980s; many span several decades and were brought forward years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who did not report sex abuse allegations to the legal authorities. It was shown that they deliberately moved sexually abusive priests to other parishes, where the abuse sometimes continued. This led to a number of fraud cases where the Church was accused of misleading victims by deliberately relocating priests accused of abuse instead of removing them from their positions” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_Church_sexual_abuse_cases#Lawsuits_and_their_effects. So what accusations have actually been made against the Church? Well, according to the BBC,“The National Catholic Safeguarding Commission (NCSC)…said 465 sexual assault claims were made against clergy members between 2003 and 2012” in England and Wales alone http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28466874. The UK isn’t the only place with such large numbers: “In February 2004, a report commissioned by the Church said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations in the last 50 years” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6232947.stm. The Canadian Encyclopedia mentions a number of specific cases from across Canada, http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/catholic-church-sex-abuse-scandals/. Some of the priests mentioned by the encyclopedia include Hugh Vincent MacDonald, Martin Houston, and Joseph Lang. MacDonald “now faces multiple allegations of sexual abuse dating back to the early 1970s.” Houston “resigned from his parish in June after media reports about his abusive past as a teacher at an Oblate-run residential school in the 1960s.” And Lang “faces allegations of sexual activity with a minor dating back to his time as a parish priest in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1980s.” In many of the cases that I have looked at, the accused priests were either removed from their positions or they resigned. However, this is not always the case. As a result of negligently moving priests to different parishes when accusations arose, the Catholic Church has been forced to pay a lot of money in damages.
There has been a growing number of lawsuits against the Catholic Church. People who were abused by their priests as children who feel that the Church did not do enough to protect the children within the Church are now taking matters into their own hands. As a result, the Catholic Church has had to pay out a lot of money. In one case, “552 plaintiffs in Boston received a record US$85 million (euro64 million)” http://www.cbsnews.com/news/calif-diocese-settles-abuse-cases/. In another case, “the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the US agreed to pay $60m (£30m) to settle dozens of lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests” http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6232947.stm. One woman, Elizabeth McKenna “spent 20 days on the witness stand in a Toronto courtroom in the spring of 2000, before the diocese of Sault Ste. Marie and their insurers finally agreed to settle a $3-million lawsuit she had pursued for a decade” http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/catholic-church-sex-abuse-scandals/. She said of her case “‘They really put the gloves on,” says McKenna. ‘I’ll never forget one of the lawyer’s questions: ‘Do you have an orgasm when you masturbate?”” Even Australia has been affected by the sex scandal. Apparently, “Child sex abuse by priests cost the Catholic Church in Melbourne more than $34 million” http://www.skynews.com.au/news/national/2014/08/18/response-to-child-sex-abuse—insufficient-.html. As you can see, the Catholic Church has lost a lot of money as a result of the scandal. However, I cannot feel sorry for them since all of this could have been avoided by handling the cases properly when they first came up.
There are many theories as to why there is so much sex abuse within the Catholic Church. Many people have said that it wouldn’t be an issue if it weren’t for the fact that clerics must take a vow of chastity. I don’t know how true that is. However, “Pope Francis was quoted as saying data indicated ‘about 2%’ of clergy in the Catholic Church were paedophiles” http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-28466874. That may not seem like a very large number, but, when you think about how many clergy members there are, it indicates a large number of people.
If you would like to look more into sexual assault accusations and lawsuits against the Catholic Church, here are some links:
http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/sex-abuse-victims-paid-17-million-by-catholic-church-royal-commission-hears/story-fn27027933319?nk=f66f2aaa81811aceae30be2f50fdce9bi0fit3-12
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-02-05/scathing-un-report-demands-vatican-act-against-child-sex-abuse/5241300
http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/05/world/europe/un-vatican-report/
http://www.catholicworldreport.com/Blog/2910/un_blasts_vatican_response_to_sex_abuse_updated.aspx
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/r/roman_catholic_church_sex_abuse_cases/index.html
http://www.vaticancrimes.us/
http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/catholic-church/2014/02/19/investigation-more-priests-accused-of-sexual-abuse-in-twin-cities-catholic-church/
http://bishop-accountability.org/priestdb/PriestDBbylastName-A.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Settlements_and_bankruptcies_in_Catholic_sex_abuse_cases

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