With all the bad press that the Catholic Church is receiving nowadays because of the clergy sex abuse scandal in Europe and other places, I thought that now would be a good time to direct your attention to a post that Michael Spencer wrote several years ago when the clergy sex abuse scandal was developing here in the US. The things he said back then are just as true this time around.
Some interesting points in all of this:
–The same thing is probably just as prevalent (if not more so) in other organizations where adult men are in contact with younger boys, i. e. the Boy Scouts, evangelical youth groups, or any public school setting for that matter. It just doesn’t get the same media play when it happens in those settings.
–A lot of the furor, both in Europe and here in the US, is over events that happened thirty to fifty years ago. Attitudes toward sexual abuse have changed significantly since then. A lot of things that would have been considered appropriate back then are no longer considered appropriate nowadays. Ways of handling these situations that were considered perfectly acceptable back then are no longer considered acceptable nowadays. It isn’t that people back then were ignorant of the harmful effects of sexual abuse (although that may have been true to a certain extent). The truth is that it was just a different time back then, and the prevailing attitudes as to what was appropriate and acceptable were much different then than they are nowadays.
–We evangelicals don’t get to skate on this one. Jewish businessman Sam Miller has written an article in which he notes a survey which found that 10% of Protestant ministers surveyed were guilty of pedophilia while only 1.7% of Catholic priests were guilty of pedophilia.
–Many in the Catholic Church and the larger Christian community who are screaming about this sexual abuse thing have their own agendas. Some want the priesthood opened up to women. Some want the celibacy requirement lifted. Yes, there are reforms that have to happen, but using this thing as an opportunity to push your own personal agenda is very bad form. And allying yourself with those who are pushing their own agendas in this situation is not a wise thing to do.