Saturday, April 17, 2010

ZenTiger Dom Post - righteous anger could do with some balance

The Dom Post's editorial today continues it's trend of attacking the Catholic Church by making sweeping accusations that indicate an unbalanced and biased position rather than measured commentary expected of an Editorial.

OPINION: Former prime minister Helen Clark had a simple piece of advice for colleagues in difficulty: "If you're in a hole, stop digging." It is advice the Vatican would do well to heed.

Firstly, when incorrect allegations are used as the foundation for a story, it's natural to want to present some of the facts that would balance the slander. However, if you don't have the media on your side, turning the other cheek doesn't necessarily work either, as the media then run stories crowing that "no denial means every baseless allegation is true".

Watching assorted cardinals and bishops attempt to dodge blame for the church's horrific record of child abuse is akin to watching fish flap about in the bottom of a boat. The more the prelates wriggle, the more deeply the hooks sink.

Yes, the more anything is said, the more the media try to twist it. And it will never fail to give the more contentious opinions headline space as it relegates others to a small space buried in the mid sections, if mentioned at all.

The Vatican has blamed the media
Only as far as specific misrepresentations of facts.

and the permissive values of the 60s and 70s
Such as one of the "smoking gun cases" going before the courts and being let off with 3 years probation providing the guy did therapy? Sounds like the courts also didn't treat child abuse the same way we now understand it.

it has compared offending rates within the church with rates in other institutions

unfortunately, necessary when various sweeping statements and cartoons make out 100% of priests are pedophiles, and not a few percent, same as other organisations.

it has preached the virtues of forgiveness and
absolutely relevant at any time when considering humanitarian values. It has not said to abandon justice, but simply to remember forgiveness.

just to demonstrate how completely it has lost touch with notions of right and wrong, it has attempted to draw distinctions between paedophilia (sexual relations with children) and ephebophilia (relations with mid-to-late adolescents).

And why wouldn't it, when the press deliberately uses the term pedophilia to maximise the natural revulsion for such crimes? They are reacting to the sweeping accusations of the press implying all the cases are of pedophilia. The Church is not denying sex abuse is wrong, but reacting against the spin the media put on sex with a 16 or 17 year old, implying that it is the same as sex with an 8 year old.

I'd be in favour of capital punishment for pedophiles. The way the press phrase it, that would also have to apply to a 20 year old having sex with a 16 year old. Do you think people might be a little more discerning at that point on the actual definition of pedophilia? The actual cases of pedophilia are a fraction of the total cases of sex abuse, and whilst all of it is one crime too many, we know why the media want to conflate the two.

Instead of recognising that it is getting deeper and deeper into a hole, it keeps digging. While the Pope apologises and urges Christians to repent for sins, senior church figures keep looking for scapegoats.

Funny, various editorials keep calling on the Pope to apologize. He's actually done it several times, over several years. The Press occasionally acknowledge it, but only when they say "it's not enough", and then in the next editorial pretend it simply hasn't happened yet. Eventually, they'll have to move on to complain that it's not global, or it's not specific to a country or used the right words.

They've paid out billions in compensation, some diocese have gone bankrupt over trying to make amends, so they studiously ignore that aspect.

The Vatican's No 2, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has attempted to shift the blame by saying psychologists and psychiatrists have established a link between paedophilia and homosexuality, and a retired Italian bishop has been quoted attributing the church's woes to a Zionist attack.

When 2% of priests are found to be sexual abusers, then the press can be fairly accused of implying vaster numbers of priests are sexual abusers, and indeed are pedophiles. So making sweeping statements is fine, for a few percent.

Yet of the number that actually offend, 70% to 80% of those cases are between man and male adolescent, and 23% of those are of age 15-17. Those numbers are interesting in that they certainly refute the "all priests are pedophiles" line, and raise questions that are worth answering if we really want to get to the cause of it all. Some people might suspect homosexuality, and that is no less contentious as some people advancing the opinion that it is because of celibacy.

As for "a retired Italian Bishop", good effort finding one mad opinion out of thousands of Bishops, if it is even true. With reporters caught taking quotes out of context and twisting the truth, the claim is a little suspect.

Cardinal Bertone's claim was immediately rebutted by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales, who said there was no empirical data to conclude that sexuality was connected to child sex abuse, but the damage has been done.

Ah, so some difference of opinion even in the Church, defending homosexuals. Not the monolithic organisation that orchestrates cover-ups and has a unified press release from top to bottom then? It might explain why some areas suffered more abuse than others.

Meanwhile, Giacomo Babini, the retired bishop of Grosseto, has denied describing Jews as the "natural enemies" of Catholicism and "God-killers". However, the Italian Catholic website on which his comments were reported is standing by its story.

Ah, we believe a third hand quote, but dismiss the source. This is where the press continue to treat allegations as facts, when it suits them.

The antediluvians in the Vatican appear to believe the church can spin its way out of its predicament. It cannot.

And hopefully, the Dom Post will be caught out in it's own spin one day and have to apologise for misrepresentation of facts. In the time honoured deep sense of responsibility the press have towards truth, that apology will no doubt be 10 words in small print buried in a mid section paper during mid week.

The sexual abuse of children is wrong, whether the children are six or 14, and whether the abuse is committed by heterosexuals or homosexuals.

That's been agreed. Just disagreement in calling "pedophilia" for all sex abuse cases with 16 and 17 year olds, which are also illegal (in some countries).

The fact that sexual abuse has happened in other institutions does not excuse it in the church and the church's problems cannot be blamed on Jews, the media or anyone else.

The only reason that the comparison was made is because of the insinuation by papers such as the DomPost that this problem is significantly more prevalent in the Church than other similar institutions in the 30's to 80's.

The church is not the victim here. Forgiveness is not its to give.The victims are the hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of children who have been abused by Catholic priests, brothers and nuns allowed to cloak their sins in religious sanctity.

Pure hyperbole. Millions? I'd be interested to see the evidence for that, and demonstrates quite well the kinds of phrases that imply all priests are pedophiles, and then they become petulant if corrected with 1-5% of priests, and actually, around 10% are cases of pedophilia.

The only hope the church has of regaining its moral authority is for church leaders everywhere to do what they have belatedly done in New Zealand: admit wrongdoing, report abuse and co-operate fully with investigating authorities.

Actually, they have admitted wrongdoing, several times, in several countries, over the years and especially from 2001. They also have standard policy now to report the incident to secular authorities (that was never explicit, but it was never forbidden either). This has been happening, and the case numbers in general have been falling. Most of the "new" scandals relate to people coming forward to lodge old claims because they feel they might be heard. That may also reflect a new culture in the Church that the Dom Post has failed to investigate.

Source: Dom Post Must Confess It's Sins
Edited 9:10pm

1 comment(s):

Shem Banbury said...

Nice piece Zen. The press love anything religious and anything different. Why let the facts get in the way of a story?

It is a shame that it has come to this. I hope you voice your opinion in a letter to the Editor.

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