04 December, 2009

McLeans Magazine on the Catholic Clergy Sex Abuse scandals

Canada's McLean's Magazine has published one of the most balanced articles to date of the issue of Clergy Sexual Abuse. It neither excuses the institutional church for the mistreatment of victims in the past nor does it give the church a pass in how it is legally fighting claims today. What it does do is present statistical evidence and offer some psychological motivations to explain this sordid affair.

It is well worth reading, whether you are a priest or a member of the laity.  The article can be found here.

21 comments:

  1. I don't think the problem is how many child abusing priests there are or whether the numbers in the priesthood are any greater than in the general population, although it is pretty sad that these kinds of rationalizations are being trotted out by a clergy desperate to prove they are no worse than anybody else.

    The problem is a laity who ignored the reports from their children that they were being sodomized, for decades and continued to sit quietly in the pews. The problem is that generations of children were raised to let themselves be sodomized by priests, without fighting back with every ounce of strength they possess. The problem is with a Catholic Church that demands absolute obedience from it's members no matter what their own consciences or private communications with God tells them. How much longer can a Church that operates in this manner continue to command the respect and support of a free people?

    The foulness is not in the individuals but in the institution itself. Deviant men do not find their way into the priesthood, they are created and nurtured by the Church, just as it creates and nurtures a laity that lays down for the foul predations upon their children, perpetrated in the name of the Church.

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  2. reddog: So, you read the article?

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  3. Reddog: What would you say if I granted you every point that you have made? Essentially I do.
    I accept that evil has worked within the structures and persons of the Roman Catholic Church. It, and they, have done terrible and sinful things in the past, present and future.

    But I also say that it is the Church that is founded upon the Apostolic witness, on the blood of the Christian martyrs, on the shoulders of the early Church fathers and Councils, and holds both the great commission and the Divine promise.

    So I ask you: am I to say that the power of sin, evil and corruption is stronger than that of the Holy Spirit given to the Church in Pentecost? Am I to say that the power of Satan was not broken over the Cross of Christ because the men and women that inhabit His Church are weak, sinful humans?

    Sorry Reddog, but if that is what you believe, then that is not something that I am willing to hold as true.

    My faith is first and foremost in Jesus Christ; He, who John Paul II offered as the answer to the great questions of life is the Savior in whose blood I claim some small membership in His Church.

    The Church cannot screw-up so perfectly as to thwart the plan of God.

    I stand with Peter as I await the Lords return.

    Fr. Tim

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  4. Part I:
    I am a life-long, cradle Catholic. I have attended Mass every Sunday and on Holy Days of Obligation all of my life. I grew up with the conviction that I was living my life for God because that is how my siblings and I were raised, in our large Catholic family during the 1960s and 1970s, in the Diocese of Pembroke. My family was involved in our parish when I was growing up. My brothers served Mass as Altar Boys, my Mother belonged to the CWL and served on the Parish Council, my Father was a member of the Knights of Columbus in the diocese and both of my parents supported pro-life causes. We grew up witnessing our parents do many charitable and good works in our parish community. My siblings and I all attended Catholic Schools. We all married in the Catholic Church in this and other dioceses and we all raised our children in the Catholic faith. Some of my siblings, me included, have served in our parishes as members of our parish councils, CWLs, Knights of Columbus, etc.
    In 1993, one of my adult brothers confessed to my parents that during his childhood he was molested by a Catholic Priest, Father Joseph Malaney, who regularly replaced parish priests in the Pembroke Diocese when they took holidays. The abuse had gone on for years. Until telling my parents my brother had told no one. My parents spoke to the Bishop at that time and were told that if my brother was willing to go for counseling the church would pay for it. My brother wanted nothing from the Catholic Church. He did not contact the police to press charges.
    Fast forward to when Father Bernard Prince from our Diocese was charged with the sexual abuse of minors. Father Peter Proulx, supposed ‘spokesperson’ on such matters, made the statement to the press that he there had never been allegations made prior to this about any priest in the Diocese. He was talking about the Diocese of Pembroke, the same one we belong to where my parents visited with the Bishop and discussed the sexual abuse of my brother by a Diocesan priest.

    These events lead me to believe that the Bishop, the Diocesan persons responsible for investigating allegations, the Diocesan Priests and the higher levels within the Catholic Church are all covering up for pedophiles and protecting them rather than the children. Our children! It absolutely sickens me that this is happening and I feel powerless to do anything about it.
    continued....

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  5. Part II:
    Most recently charges have been laid against Father Robert Borne for the sexual abuse of children. It makes me wonder how many complaints were received by the Diocese about him and not acted upon? Many people were not surprised when he was charged, claiming to have heard ‘rumors’ for years about his sexual behaviour. It is entirely possible that complaints had been made to one of our Bishops by parents who maybe felt that it was enough to inform the Bishop and it would be ‘handled’ and that it was not necessary to call the police. If this happened, why didn’t the Bishop call the police? When a child is abused there is a legal responsibility to report it to the police. A few years ago similar rumors circulated about Father Dan Millar who was hurriedly removed from his parish and hidden away ‘in residence’ at Our Lady of Lourdes in Pembroke. If the rumors are true, the Bishop should have called the police. How many children are being sacrificed so that the Catholic Church doesn’t have to part with money for victims? And I’m coming to the realization that it is about the money. It saddens me that I have lost faith in the Catholic Church’s ability to rectify the past and prevent such crimes in the future. I am beginning to believe that pedophile priests will continue to be protected by the church until we as Catholics say ‘enough’ by refusing to put another nickel in a collection plate until the clergy is purged of child sexual predators. As a Catholic, I do not want my financial contribution to my parish and diocese to be spent defending pedophiles.
    I know that not all priests are sexual abusers of children; I know that there are many good and decent men in the priesthood. I know that there are perpetrators who are not priests. But when it’s a priest who molests a child it is much, much worse than if it were someone else. A priest has the power of heaven and hell over a child. It is so much more damaging, so much more disgustingly vile and evil when a priest abuses a child. Because the Catholic Church continues to cover up, not report allegations to the police, transfer priests to new parishes, and hide them ‘in residence,’ they have created a safe haven for child molesters.
    I feel sorry for the Catholic priests who are decent, honorable men, like you. I feel sorry that priests are looked upon with suspicion because of the ones who prey on our children. I pray that God our Father will expedite the removal of the poison within the Catholic Church before it implodes.

    "Whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believed in me, it were better for him that millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea." Matthew 18:6

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  6. Anonymous: Please go to the Police yourself. You have information that they absolutely need to hear. I do not know who the priest is that molested your brother, but is he still alive? The police must be informed as they are the only authority that are empowered to investigate these matters. You can ask to speak with Jamie Trader from the Pembroke office, or Jeff Dagg in the North Bay office, or report it to any OPP crime unit anywhere. I will forward this comment to them, but I do not know if they can make of an anonymously posted comment.

    Pray... absolutely! Report... just as essential. Please do not delay.

    Fr. Tim

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  7. Fr. Tim,
    I do not know if Father Malaney is still alive. Last I heard he was at the Diocese of Ottawa, living in residence there. My brother went to see him there (as an adult) and confronted him. This was in the mid 1990s. Fr. Malaney was elderly and denied having touched my brother. My brother responded by reminding the priest that he used to phone our house and ask my parents to send him to the church because he needed his help with something and that he used to give him treats such as soft drinks and chocolate bars. Fr. Malaney responded "I never paid you for it!"
    I will not report this because my brother was the one who suffered the abuse and he has not reported it. If Fr. Malaney had not touched my brother perhaps he would still go to church. I won't get into the damage that being molested as a child by your priest has done to my brother but let’s just say that whatever punishment awaits sexual predators of children in the after-life is highly deserved for no more vile person exists than one who abuses a child in this manner. I know what you are saying Fr. Tim about reporting, I believe in reporting and if I had been abused I would report it.
    Fr. Tim I think that part of the problem with the Catholic Church is how it is set up with the parish not being able to fire a priest. By this I mean that in other religions the parish places ads in religious publications when they have an opening for a new minister at their church. A committee interviews and hires a new minister, checks references etc. I would like, as a Catholic parishioner to have this kind of control within our parish! I think this would give us more control over who has access to our children and make our parish priests more accountable for their actions! I don't like the culture of Catholic hierarchy that protect and transfers pedophile priests to other parishes when there are accusations made of crimes against children.
    And I particularly don't like how ordinary people like me are afraid to speak out and give our opinions because we are afraid of the power of the Catholic Church. A church that tells us as Catholics how to behave sexually on one had while promoting child molestation by protecting their pedophile priests on the other hand. And that is why I am ‘anonymous’.

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  8. Anonymous: Let me respond please to a few points you raise.

    First as to the reporting: I have forwarded your earlier messages to Jamie Trader of the OPP in Pembroke. It is ESSENTIAL that such cases get reported as who knows how many other victims this guy has harmed. I appreciate that you might not want to add your voice to mine, but someone needs to ensure that the police are involved in these cases.

    As to choosing priests for a parish, I do not think that this would give you anymore control than you have now. If people would (after trying with the priest himself) go to the Bishop to make clear that problems exist, then the Bishop can take action. I know that this works as in my 20+ years as a priest of the Diocese, I have seen three or four priests removed from office, and in some cases kicked out of the priesthood. If people don't get anywhere with the Bishop, then move further up the chain of command (Archbishop responsible for the ecclesial province - in our case, Ottawa) and further (Papal Nuncio) if they still don't get any satisfaction. There is also the powers of the 5th estate (press) that can be brought to bear. People can only be oppressed if they do not stand up for themselves.

    Final point: I do not like the culture you speak of that protects pedophiles or criminals. But I choose not to fear the structures of the church, because there is no canonical reason for me (or anyone) to fear the hierarchy. The code of canon law clearly outlines the rights and obligations of the clergy and laity and this provides far more protection than you might be aware of.

    I hope that these points might help you to see that as a Catholic you have rights; rights that must be respected and honored. The day when the Church could impose its will is long, long gone (THANK GOD). In Canada, it is still trying to find its way in this new environment, but it will soon find its voice so that it can preach the message of Christ the High Priest without needing to intimidate anyone.

    Fr. Tim

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  9. Dear Anonymous:

    I'm very sorry to hear about your brother. The damage done, as you said, is very grave. And it not only affects him, but it affects siblings (yourself), parents, children, partners, friends, neighbours, etc.

    I would strongly recommend you find professional support to work through this. I think it would help you understand yourself and your brother better.

    Sadly, for many of us, our knee-jerk reaction was to go to the very institution that harmed us. And, as you noted, the bishops do SFA and then LIE when the press or anyone asks about other allegations against that or any other priests.

    We must get the word out that we need to tell the POLICE and not the aiders and abettors. And if one is not ready or able to report to legal authorities, then please seek professional support and provide yourself with personal support so that one can work through this. The consequences of sexual abuse by a priest are dire.

    I know because I was sexually abused by a priest when I was a little girl. I have found a lot of support at snapnetwork.org (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

    The McLeans article was not balanced as "Fr." purports.

    Repeatedly saying "ONLY about 2%" of the clergy are pedophiles does a few things: it minimizes the pain of the victim, it neglects to inform the average number of victims he has (based on MOs, access to children and number of years one is a priest, a conservative guess is 200) and it neglects to inform about the number of those who aided and abetted.

    The bishops (internationally) know. The pope knows. The priest's colleagues know. Nuns, the parents, teachers (especially if the church is next to a school, which it often is) - they all know.

    And in some cases law enforcement knows, but does not investigate - particularly if they are catholic and the bishop "talks him out of it." I have seen that before as well.

    PLEASE do not report to the church. PLEASE do not financially or otherwise support a corrupt and immoral institution.

    PLEASE DO surround yourself with professional and personal support as you decide next steps.

    My heart goes out to all those as children and vulnerable adults who were sexually abused by religious. You are not alone. There is support for you.

    Peace.

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  10. With the exception of the line about not reporting to the church, I agree with most of what you wrote. I believe the the proper response is to contact both the church and the police. If the church follows its own policies, the priest will be removed from the opportunities where he can hurt anyone else. The police will investigate and lay charges if the allegations can be substantiated.

    One one point: I am not trying to minimize the impact on anyone by pointing out the stat's on sexual abuse. I know only too well the impact that such an event can have on one's life. What I am pleading for is for some understanding that the overwhelming majority of priests do not deserve to be tarred and feathered due to the misdeeds of a few.

    Fr. Tim

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  11. I come from a deeply religious family and I am a practicing Catholic. I have seen first hand how the sexual assault of a child by a priest can destroy lives. The ripple effect of the damage the abuse causes spans generations. It deeply affected how I raised my children. If I can think of one underlying theme that my parents taught me it was this. We as Christians have the moral obligation to protect and care for the weakest members of our society, the unborn, the handicapped, children and the elderly. I can remember my grandmother telling me that the priest was the closest person to God. Can you imagine what it does to a boy to have ‘the closest person’ to God do incredibly horrific sexual things to him? My brother’s faith in God is dead. It is so offensive to me that a Catholic priest would abuse a child sexually. I hate that when I look at my priest on the altar I wonder if he’s a pedophile. I hate that I don’t want to put anything in the collection plate because I don’t want it going to defend these monsters.

    I would like to see the Catholic Church come clean and admit to what they have covered up. Isn’t confession good for the soul? Why does the church allow these abusers to stay on as priests?

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  12. Anonymous: The current practice is not to let priests who have been convicted of sexual abuse stay as priests. I offer as evidence the fact the Msgr. Bernie Prince was removed from the clerical state (defrocked) by the Vatican once he was convicted.

    I can also tell you that the Diocese does not pay the legal bills of any priest that has been convicted, so your money is not going to pay to get pedophiles off.

    I cannot promise that this is the practice everywhere and at all times, but it is the case in our Diocese of Pembroke, and in most other dioceses that I am familiar with.

    My deepest respect to you for continuing the practice of your faith in the face of this incredible evil that was visited upon your brother. I will continue to pray for him as I do for all victims of these scandals.

    Fr. Tim

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  13. I agree that the Catholic Church needs to admit that they have been protecting the abusers by covering for them with transfers to new parishes, by lying to victims and families of victims, by not calling the police, etc. However, I do not agree that I should stop having anything to do with the church because of the immoral and reprehensible behaviour of quite a few priests. And I don't believe it's only 2% at all! I have more right to be a member of the Catholic Church than these pedophile priests! And I'll be attending the Mass and receiving the Eucharist I love despite the fact that there are priests who belong in jail.
    On the other hand, would I trust a priest with my child? Hell, no! What the church is doing would be like if a school board simply transferred teachers to another school when they molested a child! Then told lies to cover up the crime and protect the criminal. That is what the church does and it makes me sick. So why, if it's only 2% of priests who are child predators, does the church cover up for them? Is it possible that the people who are covering up these crimes are doing so because they, also, are child molesters? Why else would they let it continue by letting the priests get away with it? Why do they lie for them, make excuses, etc? Why do they spend collection money fighting charges against perverts and spend collection money fighting not to pay money to their victims? That is why I no longer put money in the collection plate!
    I have nothing against having single priests. I have nothing against letting priests get married. I have nothing against letting priests live with a partner. I have nothing against letting priests have same-sex spouses. I have nothing against letting women become priests, single, married, or lesbian. But I am against an adult having sex with a child. Any adult! It makes me sick that a church who sticks their nose into the sex lives of parishioners, telling them what is moral and immoral is rampant with adults who condone sex with children by creating a culture of secrecy and cover-ups! To me, that is hypocrisy personified, the Catholic Church telling us what is or is not appropriate sexual behaviour and what sexual behaviour is a 'sin' or not a 'sin'. Get real!
    Father Tim, I commend you for having this blog. And I must say that I am surprised that it is still online, that you have not been ordered by the Diocese to remove it! Good for you for speaking out against this plague within our beloved church!

    Anonymous #1

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  14. The other 'anonymous' on here who stated, 'isn't confession good for the soul?' has a point. And speaking of Confession, I don't think anyone realizes what it does to parents to find out that the priest they have been confessing their sins to has been sexually assaulting their son! I don't believe my parents ever felt the same way about confession after they found out! It is only because of a very strong belief in God that my parents continued to attend Mass and practice the Catholic faith. Most often, a whole family looses their faith when one of them is molested by a priest. These priests, and the Catholic Church who covers for them, are responsible for turning so many people away from God. I know I have had a difficult time with confession since finding out that a priest molested my brother. I wonder on the rare occasion that I do go to confession if I am confessing my small venial sins to a child molester who is committing mortal sins against children. If I have lost any of my faith it is the faith in confessing my sins to another human being rather than directly to God and Jesus Christ. I don't know where all of this will end. I don't know what it will take to rid our Church of these pedophiles. I heard through the 'grapevine' that Robert Borne is saying that these boys wanted to 'explore their sexuality'. When youth want to explore their sexuality they don't go to their priest to do it. They go to a friend, whether they are same-sex or opposite sex. They never go to an adult, that claim is classic pedophile propaganda.

    Anonymous #1

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  15. Father Tim, Are you absolutely sure that no money parishioners put in the collection plate go to defend priests accused of molesting children? I would like to be able to contribute financially to the upkeep of my church, after all it's only fair to do so, but I do not want one cent to go toward defending child molesters! If the diocese doesn't pay for the defence, who pays for it?
    Please let me know as I know other people who have stopped putting money in the collection for the same reason I have stopped.
    Thanks,
    Anonymous # 1

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  16. Anonymous#1: Can I say with 100% assurance that not one penny will end up defending accused priests? No. Canon Law states that the church is obliged to support its clergy in such cases. However, if the priest is convicted of the offense then he is on the hook to pay the legal costs. So there may be cases where some funds go to defend priests - and some of those priests may be molesters, but others are not.

    I also rush to say that 90% of the funds within our diocese that is donated in the collection basket is used to pay for parish expenses. If there is a surplus, the parish gets to bank their own money. 10% of Sunday collections are sent to the Diocese to pay for all of the Dioceses expenses, of which a small part may be in defense of priests in legal matters.

    As to where we as priests obtain and pay for legal services, it's done the same as you would. We use our own (or privately/personally borrowed) money.

    This is as complete and honest an answer as I can give, not being privy to the financial details of the Diocese, and being limited to my understanding of Canon law taught during my seminary training, and after discussing such matters with various canon and secular lawyers.

    Hope it helps.

    Fr. Tim

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  17. Local Catholics are still waiting for Msgr. Robert Borne to admit his wrong-doings in court. Why is this taking so long? Meanwhile, we wonder how many more of our priests have betrayed our children....

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  18. Anonymous: I don't know why his case is taking so long to get to court. I don't know if he has even entered a plea to the charges yet.

    I pray that this is the end of our trials in Pembroke. As far as I know, there is no one else that is currently being investigated. Please God...may that mean that there are no more predators among the priests.

    Fr. Tim

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  19. Fr. Tim I agree and pray that there are no more predators among the priests. We have had more than our share here in Pembroke. I want it to be over for the victims if that is ever possible, over for all Catholics and over for all the decent and normal priests who are looked upon badly because of the actions of those who are child predators. I have no problem with priests having a normal, consenting, sexual relationship with another adult...male or female. I have no sympathy for child sexual predators, priest or not!

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  20. Anonymous12 May, 2010

    Still nothing before the courts on this. Has someone been paid off? What is the hold up?

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  21. http://podblack.com/2010/04/hungry-beast-catholic-church-sex-scandals-in-perspective/

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