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What constitutes child abuse in the Catholic Church? Church can’t seem to decide

March 29, 2009

Link to increase in abuse reportings

The Catholic Church has stated there is an increase in reports of abuse by clergy, but no one seems in the majority about what to do about it.  Attorneys for the plaintiffs still assert that the bishops don’t disclose all their assets when a case comes to court, and numerous officials declare that the church still has work to do.

Only a minority of U.S. dioceses have publicly released the names of accused priests — a move that is meant not only to potentially protect the public, but also to encourage other victims of the clergymen to seek help. Only 30 percent of new allegations last year were made through attorneys. Half of the claims were made to the dioceses directly by the accusers.

“Bishops have to try harder,” Barrett Doyle said. “They have to publish lists of accused priests, they have to publish the assignments of these priests, so parents can start asking questions.”

What does constitute child abuse?  At a local parish near us, some of the teenaged girls said that their Catholic school principal got angry with them for not coming out of the locker room on time and then to punish them opened the door to the student body and other teachers, thereby exposing the teenagers in their bras and underpants.

Do you know how the priest decided to “investigate”?  He asked the principal what happened.  Her version of the story was quite different from the girls’ stories, and so the priest stated that girls were just trouble-makers.  When local law enforcement was contacted, the police stated that they didn’t think that principal exposed the girls unduly, and they couldn’t take action.  The local bishop’s office said that they stood behind their priest’s investigation, but if that wasn’t enough, they couldn’t do anything about the priest’s handling of the situation:  “He is on his own, and if criminal charges are brought, he will face them on his own.”

So who is to blame in this scenario?  I was the one the girls confided too, and while parents did pull their children from the school after that, the bishop and Catholic Church never did do a formal investigation.  The Catholic Church stated that they believed the priest’, the priest simply asked the principal, and no one in this Catholic parish believed the teenaged girls.  In fact, they faced continual ridicule after that, because they were called into the principal’s office and publicly berated, as were the parents who complained.  Does that constitute child abuse?  Were the allegations ever formally investigated?  No, not really.  Why ask an assailant if they have completed a crime when you will just write off the victims’ statements anyway?  The rest of the parents in the school blamed the girls for not getting ready, stating that the locker room was fair game if the girls didn’t come out of it.  The girls were ashamed that they felt exposed when they got dressed, and then were ridiculed for it, so they didn’t say anything else, and the local police refused to become involved based on the principal’s longstanding reputation.

Isn’t this how the abuse allegations brought down the church to begin with?  No one listened to the victims.  No outside entity investigated claims, and the priests and bishops refused to acknowledge or investigate suspect behavior?  Yes, well it still happens in a little town in Michigan.  Guess the Catholic Church still has a long way to go.

Read my post about how the Catholic Church is also refusing audits in abuse situations.

Increase in reports of abuse by the Catholic Church

Increase in reports of abuse by the Catholic Church

One Comment leave one →
  1. Tony permalink
    March 30, 2009 6:06 am

    When those in the pews found out what the priest did to me, we (my parents and four brothers) were ostracized. We didn’t exist any more.

    We moved away.

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