The vast size of the nation's Catholic Church (at about 64 million parishioners, the country's largest by a factor of 7 or 8), may partly explain the vast scope of the scandal engulfing the church.
The scandal involves (a) sex of the most deviant sort - primarily homosexual sex by priests, primarily with boys - pederasty, pedophilia, fellatio, rape - all generally subsumed under such euphemistic headings as "sexual abuse" or "sexual misconduct." The scandal also involves (b) consequent secrecy and cover-up by in-denial church authorities who should have been, instead of "there-thering" guilty priests and reassigning them within the church, calling the cops.
The Catholic Church is not my church. Through history it has served as one of the most estimable institutions advancing Western Civilization - yet today, in America at least, it is rife with a mystery its advocates and admirers do not usually have in mind when they discuss "the mystery" of the Catholic (or any) church.
News accounts disclosed the scandal 18 months ago. Today, with Catholic bishops meeting recently in annual convention in St. Louis, it continues - with the hierarchy evidently still largely in denial not only as to the extent deviant predatory sex with the young is crushing trust in the priesthood, but also the extent to which it is devastating Catholic belief and encouraging, more broadly, a flight from God.
What follow are headlines and quotations from news coverage, arranged roughly in calendar order, testifying to the scope of the scandal and its cover-up.
- Headline: "Priest Survey: Gay Cliques Exist" and "Some Catholic Clergy Call Seminary 'Subculture' Divisive."
- Quote (datelined Boston): "When he was a top official in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Bishop Thomas Daily, who now heads the Diocese of Brooklyn, promoted a priest (the Rev. Paul Shanley) to lead a suburban parish in 1983, even though he had received numerous complaints that the priest was advocating sex between men and boys. ... The bishop also acknowledged that he did little in response to a string of complaints that Father Shanley was giving speeches outside of Boston that endorsed sex between men and boys and was attending the formative meetings of the North American Man-Boy Love Association."
- Headline: "Abuse Scandal Is Deterring Catholic Donors, Poll Says."
- Headline (Los Angeles): "Bishops Criticize New Abuse Law."
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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