Friday, April 23, 2010

Fletch The Nazi Pedophile Priest Scare

“There are cases of sexual abuse that come to light every day against a large number of members of the Catholic clergy. Unfortunately it’s not a matter of individual cases, but a collective moral crisis that perhaps the cultural history of humanity has never before known with such a frightening and disconcerting dimension. Numerous priests and religious have confessed. There’s no doubt that the thousands of cases which have come to the attention of the justice system represent only a small fraction of the true total, given that many molesters have been covered and hidden by the hierarchy.”

Does the above quote come from an editorial from a newspaper in 2010? No, it’s from a speech of May 28, 1937, by Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), Minister of Propaganda for the Third Reich. It was just after the Pope of the day had released an encyclical condemning the Nazi regime. A very interesting article. According to the article -

The expression “moral panic” was only coined by sociologists in the 1970s to identify a social alarm created artificially, by amplifying real facts and exaggerating their numbers through statistical folklore, as well as “discovering” and presenting as “new” events which in reality are already known and which date to the past. There are real events at the base of the panic, but their number is systematically distorted.
Even without the benefit of modern sociology, Goebbels responded to the encyclical Mit brennender Sorge in 1937 with a textbook case of the creation of a moral panic.

Sound familiar?

It was the anti-Nazi encyclical of Pius XI that led to the great campaign of 1937. Mariaux proved it publishing highly detailed instructions sent by Goebbels to the Gestapo, the political police of the Third Reich, and above all to journalists, just a few days after the publication of Mit brennender Sorge, inviting them to “reopen” the cases from 1936 and also older cases, constantly recalling them to public opinion. Goebbels also ordered the Gestapo to find witnesses willing to accuse a certain number of priests, threatening them with immediate arrest if they didn’t collaborate, even if they were children.
The proverbial phrase “there’s a judge in Berlin,” which in German tradition indicates trust in the independence of the court system from the political power of the moment, applied – within certain limits – even in the Third Reich. Of the 325 priests and religious arrested after the encyclical, only 21 were condemned, and it’s all but certain that among them some were falsely accused. Virtually all of them ended up in extermination camps, where many died.

Yes, the journalists. Sounds like today's media, doesn't it? I'm not saying that there haven't been priests that were guilty in the past or that today's media are Nazis, but this current engineered 'scandal' against Pope Benedict seems more like that manufactured by Goebbels all those years ago.

Story: MercatorNet

15 comment(s):

Skyman said...

I've been wondering why I don't stop by this site much anymore. Now I know. That last sentence does nothing to excuse everything preceding it that equates the current scandal to Nazis, Goebbels and the Gestapo. Pretty shameful really. And that I'm the first one to comment makes it all the more distressing.

scrubone said...

No, I think you're right with this one.

We've suddenly had all these stories about sexual abuse by clergy, but it's an old story - we already know pretty much everything that's been presented.

Yet it's been pushed as though it's some sort of amazing new revelation.


ZenTiger said...

A pity Skyman, because then you are not reading a variety of blog posts that discuss this issue.

No-one disputes the damage done by some abusive priests and the Bishops who failed to handle them.

The "current scandal" you mention though is generally to revisit the issues, typically of 30 to 50 years ago.

It's clear they haven't healed, and even when the Church continues to reform and try to address these long standing issues, the media continues to report with a distinct bias.

At least the Church is doing something, as secular authorities don't do anything due to the Statute Of Limitations.

For example, I covered a story about a secular institution (the Lake Alice story) abusing children, with secret government payouts, and 40 abuse victims still seeking justice, and they get a "too bad, too late, should have made a complaint back then" response from the police. The media don't generate the same sense of outrage over that story, and even published a very favourable story suggesting that the thing is over-hyped only last week.

The problems with sex abuse are far more complicated than the press make out in their black and white headlines.

They hint at cover-ups or Church trials taking too long, ignoring that secular trials on some of these cases handed out minimal punishments themselves, and also failed to understand the problem - often prescribing treatment than jail simply because they too thought the problem was "fixable" and not likely to be repeated.

Also, victims maintained a desire for anonymity and secrecy, not wanting to feel publicly humiliated in a trial, which is why the seriousness of the problem was under-estimated at the time. Even so, around 50% of the cases were with a single victim, so it wasn't always obvious that a Bishop was dealing with a serial offender.

They may have moved them simply out of respect for the victim, not because they thought they were protecting the offender. This is not an excuse, it's looking to understand the background, for the stories are not too dissimilar for other large organisations facing sex abuse revelations.

Even so, within those statistics are a smaller number of Bishops that knew all this and failed to protect future victims. They deserve to be punished, but due to the huge length of time between offending and reporting, this is now difficult as many have died of old age, and a fair trial is difficult.

All of that is well known, and has been the case for some time. The media haven't been reporting it in this way though. They conflate the past actions with a sense of ongoing scandal, sometimes without bothering to fact check before launching their attack.

That is patently unfair.

I think it's natural for people to want to tilt things the other way to provide some balance, and it's purely a sense of justice driving for the idea of having a fair hearing for the countless number of priests being tarred with the evil actions of a few.

That is not to take anything away from the individual cases, nor is it to justify any evil action. It's simply to offer some perspective to the media bias.

Skyman said...

Zen I have read through the posts here.

Your response reads as one excuse after another " 30 to 50 years ago", "statutes of limitations", "at least the church is doing something", "The problems with sex abuse are far more complicated".

None of those things would matter if Catholic leadership would have turned the predators over to the civil authorities at the time many of these crimes first came to light. Had that been done what some see as a culture of abuse and cover up would not have happened and the media would not have to go searching for a story as they would most likely be able to get the facts of each case from the official record.

Absent that, the media is doing what the media does - digging up dirt. I must say, I don't believe the Catholic Church would be changing the way it handles these abuses if it wasn't for the media digging into them.

I.M Fletcher said...

Skyman, that's just it. A lot of them WERE turned over to civil authorities. In the last much-hyped case of Father Stephen Kiesle from California, he had completed a sentence of Probation given by the California courts back in the 80's. This last was purely to do with the priest himself requesting dispensation from his vows of chastity. many priests were then for different reasons. It was NOT at the request of his Bishop as some kind of punishment or to get him out of harms way of children.

As for Pope Benedict (the then Cardinal Ratzinger), he was the one who had the most to do with speeding up the process bringing abuse cases to light and getting rid of what he called the "filth" in the Church.

Some of the criticism aimed at the Church is not valid, because we're looking at the problems through the lens of 'now' rather than what it was like back then. Back then that's how things were done even in secular society as described by expert Monica Applewhite -

Much of the public criticism of the Church’s early handling of cases stems from a lack of knowledge about the historical context of this phenomenon.

I have seen newspaper articles criticizing officials for not reporting acts of abuse to the civil authorities during years when there were no child protective services and the particular behaviors involved were not criminalized yet. It is fair for criticism of decisions made in the ’60s and ’70s to focus on interpretation of moral behavior, weakness in the resolve of leaders or even the disregard of procedures set out in canon law. By the same token, it is essential to separate this from expectations that are based on the laws and standards of today.

We began studying sexual abuse in the 1970s, discovered it caused real harm in 1978, and realized perpetrators were difficult to rehabilitate in the 1990s. During the ’70s when we were sending offenders to treatment, the criminal justice system was doing the very same thing with convicted offenders — sending them to treatment instead of prison.

At the time, it was believed they could be cured with relative ease. This is a very young body of knowledge, and as we sort through both valid and questionable criticisms, we must consider the historical context of any given episode.

I.M Fletcher said...

Part II -

According to a story in Newsweek, priests commit no more of this sort of abuse than anyone else in society. I am not trying to make an excuse here, but I do think it unfair that the Catholic Church has been targeted in this manner. Because of our hierarchy we make an easy target for big fat lawyers wanting to make money.

Meanwhile, that same week, there were at least six abuses cases in the US, none of which the AP chose to cover...

• A Milford, Connecticut teacher's aide pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting a high school student

• A Brookville High School teacher in Pennsylvania was charged with aggravated indecent assault; indecent exposure; corruption of minors; possession of obscene material; sexual abuse of children; and unlawful conduct with minors

• A middle school gym teacher in Athens, New York was arrested on charges of sex abuse and forcible touching
• A Morrisville-Eaton Central School District teacher outside Utica, New York was arrested for forcibly touching a girl over a three year period, beginning at the age of 11, and for endangering her welfare
• A former Teacher of the Year in Bullitt County, Kentucky was indicted by a grand jury on sexual abuse charges
• A teacher at Olin High School in Iowa was charged with sexually exploiting a freshman. This same teacher faced similar charges two years ago when he taught in another school, and was simply moved from one school district to another

I'm sorry, but their bias is showing. The Church has largely cleaned house, and there been very few cases worldwide since 2002. I'd like to see how other organizations are doing. According to Charol Shakeshaft, the researcher of a little-remembered 2004 study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, "the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."

In any case, I think my original comparison is valid. Note that I didn't write the original (linked) article. To be honest, sometimes I wonder how much the abuse of children is uppermost in the minds of those doing the reporting - it's more about mailing the Church.

I.M Fletcher said...

..that should read "nailing" the Church, but I'm sure they accept correspondence :)

Skyman said...

So, I.M you go back to commenting on all the bad things everyone else is doing and saying it's "unfair". You're darn right it's unfair. It's supposed to be unfair. If the Catholic Church is going to hold itself up as representing God then it must also hold itself to the highest standards of ethics and openness and accountability possible. It must be able to either use that openness to defend itself from all unfounded attacks against it OR to use that same openness to come before God and the world in a spirit of confession and repentance when needed.

And that's what people are not seeing.

It's not only "because of our hierarchy" it's also because of the horrible way the Catholic Church handled these problems.

You say "I'd like to see how other organizations are doing." - it doesn't matter how they are doing! The only thing that matters to the Catholic church in this case must be how they - the Catholic chuch are doing.

Stop comparing the press to Nazis. The minute most people see the word Nazi in a blog post they immediately think the poster is a crackpot and whatever he says is indefensible. No, you didn't write the linked article, you just "repeated" it. That makes it gossip and that doesn't help the conversation at all.

ZenTiger said...

Skyman, what I said were not offered as excuses. Things like the priest being dead, the police not wanting to prosecute when allegations are made 30 years after the incident are not offered as excuses.

We are having two different conversations. I'm not in disagreement with you about the real incidents of cover-ups, the real abuse cases (of which there are far to many). There's not much more to say there that hasn't been said for the last few years.

Many of those cases have gone to trial, billions has been paid in compensation, further studies have been made and systems have been set up to deal with those cases.

The distinction I have made in this conversation is to separate that from some of the deliberately biased reporting where there is little fact checking, no back down when the facts are checked and attacks made against the Pope, who has done much to redress the wrongs.

You said: I don't believe the Catholic Church would be changing the way it handles these abuses if it wasn't for the media digging into them. Except that much of what the Church was doing, and has done happened several years ago, and has resulted in great improvement. Yet the net result is characterized by the media as having done nothing, and you repeat that message back to me.

Your last comment had a few points I agree with. Particularly this:

If the Catholic Church is going to hold itself up as representing God then it must also hold itself to the highest standards of ethics and openness and accountability possible. It must be able to either use that openness to defend itself from all unfounded attacks against it OR to use that same openness to come before God and the world in a spirit of confession and repentance when needed.

Well said.

I think the problem is for the world though that some, like myself, see this happening, and others do not.

Some steadfastly ignore the changes, the bankrupted parishes, the apologies and profession of shame, and an unrealistic expectation that a religious organisation can only ever be filled with perfect saints.

Worse, many profess to wish for "justice" and yet care little about the victims (because we don't see the same concern for similar victims of other institutions) and are demanding nothing less than the complete destruction of the Church, and nailing Pope Benedict to the cross.

It would be a good thing if the world thought that Jesus' sacrifice was more than enough, without demanding it again 2000 years later.

You say we only need to focus on what the Church is doing about the Church.

That's only partly correct. If all the news about what the Church is doing comes from the media, then it's not a big ask to demand it respect at least one virtue: Honesty.

This article was about the dishonesty of the media. Just as it has been argued that there are no excuses for the Church, it needs to be argued that there is no excuse for the media to lie - it leads to the wrong people paying the price for the sins of others.

I.M Fletcher said...

Catholic Knight has just posted on this topics as well, as agrees with the comparison with today's media.

Skyman said...

Zen, offered as excuses or not that's the way it comes across.

These thoughts will be a little random so please bear with me.

I have no doubt about the media bias or even dishonesty. But what do you really expect from them? It's what they do. (For those of you old enough, see the lyrics for Tom Jones' "The Snake")

How in the world do you expect to influence anyone by comparing the press to Nazis? It doesn't matter what other blogger agrees with the comparison, it hurts your cause rather than helps it.

Listing everyone else that's having abuse issues only gives the impression that you're trying to deflect the attention from the problems the Catholic church is having.

And the problem doesn't go away. After a period of no news on the subject the headlines are filled with news of massive problems in Ireland, Austia and Germany. People are skeptical of authority and any new revelation of Catholic church problems makes people want to know what more there is that they don't know about.

Of all the things you've said, this is what is most telling for me:

"It would be a good thing if the world thought that Jesus' sacrifice was more than enough, without demanding it again 2000 years later."

The world doesn't think that way. We shouldn't expect them to.

Jesus died so we would not suffer eternal judgement, he didn't die to prevent us experiencing the earthly consequences of our sins.

What the Catholic church is seeing is the consequences of years of not doing what God has called them to do.

That's no different from what you or I see in our lives. We get away from God (he doesn't get away from us) and bad things can follow. It does no good to point out how bad others are or attacking those that attack us. It's our job get back to God and let Him take care of all the other things. He'll see us through if we rely on Him and not ourselves.

Like I said, kinda random thoughts in the middle of a busy day.

ZenTiger said...

Thanks Skyman. Here's a couple of random thoughts back:

How in the world do you expect to influence anyone by comparing the press to Nazis?

I agree. I think this is a constructive comparison for those that have taken the time to read the background and see the changes in the Church, and will simply reinforce the opinions of others who will interpret this in the worst possible light.

However, the irony is that people making up total lies about the Church ARE listened to. One might think that anyone who suggests every priest is a pedophile would be ridiculed for such blatant bigotry. Instead, it's almost taken as fact.

So whoever made that comparison was probably thinking "if it works in the attack, maybe it works in the defence".

Also, this is an opinion piece looks to be from a reporter, not the Holy See. I suspect they might be thinking "stop helping", but such is the nature of a world with 6 billion opinions.

And the problem doesn't go away. After a period of no news on the subject the headlines are filled with news of massive problems in Ireland, Austia and Germany.

Yes, after a period of no news, we hear of massive problems in these countries that relate to issues 50 plus years ago. It isn't a "new scandal", it's the old scandal with more detail, and some of that detail incorrect.

So to decide from that news alone that nothing has been done is simply wrong.

What the Catholic church is seeing is the consequences of years of not doing what God has called them to do.

Only partly true. They are one of the organisations that deliver a huge amount of charity services around the world, and are filled with good people. That work still continues, in spite of the fact that the actions of a few have marred the intentions and good works of many.

As I said earlier - the result of the unbalanced reporting will be to hurt the wrong people, and that achieves no justice.

Anonymous said...

Oh damn, here's another one of those NAZI propagandist newspapers reporting on the RC church and child abuse.

A senior cardinal defended the Roman Catholic Church's practice of frequently not reporting sexual abusive priests to the police, saying Thursday it would have been like testifying against a family member at trial.

Colombian Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos also said in a radio interview that Pope Benedict XVI, formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was involved in a 2001 decision to praise a French bishop for shielding a priest who was convicted of raping minors.

"The law in nations with a well-developed judiciary does not force anyone to testify against a child, a father, against other people close to the suspect," Castrillon told RCN radio. "Why would they ask that of the church? That's the injustice. It's not about defending a pedophile, it's about defending the dignity and the human rights of a person, even the worst of criminals."

imagine that, a family chock a block with rapists, peadophiles and priests

ZenTiger said...

Here's some more context from the interview:

While the church stands by those who truly were victims (of sexual abuse), he added, John Paul II, that holy pope, was not wrong when he defended his priests so that they were not, due to economic reasons, treated like criminal pedophiles without due process.

It's not entirely unexpected some priests will support the concept of "due process" and find the notion of reporting some-one for such terrible crimes difficult if they harbour any hope of the person's innocence.

Equally, I think any priests that do so are misguided when the evidence is clear.

Of significance to this thread is the errors in reporting by the media:

I understand the majority of news sources have mistakenly attributed Pope John Paul II's actions in "approving" the letter (and the full details of that remain to be seen) incorrectly to the current Pope.

Again, this is where some fact checking could come in handy, but there is a real effort to hang blame on Pope Benedict before reading the source documents properly. I doubt they will deem a retraction necessary.

And the opinion of this retired Cardinal, with a colourful history, is exactly why the Vatican have clarified recently that child abusers are to be reported to the civil authorities by the Church, and why they have set up processes to over-ride the Bishops personal opinions in this matter to ensure a consistent standard that puts the victims first.

This is in addition to the point that the victim has ALWAYS had the right and ability to report the issue directly to the police.

Here's a serious question: don't you think it would always be better if the victim made the official complaint to the police? Why would they not want to, if they are prepared to complain to the Church?

ZenTiger said...

I've found the letter, and also the references to both Popes.

It seems the thrust of the letter is summed by this phrase:

The bishop has other means of acting, as the Conference of French Bishops recently restated; but a bishop cannot be required to make the denunciation himself.

So it seems that the letter says that there are ways and means of handling priests that have broken their vows and broken the canon and secular laws, and those means can be taken without the Bishop requiring to be the one to denunciate the priest in question.

I can see the point this priest is trying to make, but in such grave and serious matters, following this practice could be seen to be abused, if there is any delay in reporting a bad priest.

Therefore, I agree with the Vatican directives that the Bishop has a greater obligation, in spite of the grave difficulty presented to them.

Here's the letter and a bio of the Cardinal here: Cardinal Hoyos

As for the mix up on the Popes - it appears that even though the letter was approved in principle by Pope John Paul II, the retired cardinal claims Pope Benedict was present at a meeting where this was discussed.

It's hard to determine without further information the nature of that meeting, because the letter was written and signed by this cardinal, and may have deviated from the intent discussed at the meeting. I shall look for more information.

I note that this retired Cardinal's comments and the issue of the letter has upset other Catholic priests, and they advised they would boycott a mass he was to preside over in the USA, as well as a victims support group:

The decision to cancel the cardinal's participation came after a number of local priests said they would not attend the service.

On Tuesday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests called on Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl to stop the cardinal from celebrating the Mass, saying it would send the wrong message.

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