Jan 02 2010AUGUST 23, 2007
Catholic Church Sex Abuse Crisis and Code Words
After many years of representing survivors of priest sexual abuse, I've come to recognize the various euphemisms or code words that the church has used to hide the sexual abuse perpetrated by its priests, nuns, and religious. These words are found in the internal church documents which are only available after long and difficult court battles with the church. Such words as particular friendship, indiscretion, abnormal relationship, overfamiliarity, unfortunate incidents, unacceptable behavior are code words for sexual abuse of minors. Even such words as alchoholism, depression, and stress have been used to cover up the underlying issue of sexual abuse. When I've examined the personnel records of these priests, I've found such terms as "on sabbatical", "on medical leave", "absent" or "further study" to describe why they aren't functioning as priests. Another way in which church officials avoid frank talk about sexual abuse problems is by using latin terms such as "stuprum" (sodomy), "De re turpi cum infantibus" (sexual abuse of minors), "Delictus contra naturam cum eodem sexu" (homosexual acts), and "mulier" for women.
These code words keep sexual abuse hidden and cloaked in the language of the church.