Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Sexual Abuse & Becoming Catholic

An excellent story from the National Catholic Register by a convert coming into the Church in 2005 when the scandal was raging—reminiscent of our experience as converts in 2004—and why she still became Catholic.

A must read!

An excerpt.

“When people hear that my husband and I began exploring Catholicism in 2005, one of the first questions they often ask is, “What about the sexual abuse scandals? Didn’t that scare you away from the Church?”

“They’re usually surprised when I report that the answer is no; in fact, the scandals and the negative media coverage actually increased my faith in the Church. Here’s why:

“Getting the Facts Straight

“One of the first things I did was to look into the numbers behind the sexual abuse cases. Was I heading into an institution that was filled with sexual predators, as the media would have me believe? I was shocked to find that, by even the most anti-Catholic organizations’ estimates, only about 2 percent of Catholic priests had even been accused of sexual misconduct. And certainly the cover-ups by members of the hierarchy were deplorable, but my research led me to see that that was common in all organizations, not just the Church. To list just one of the many examples, in Washington there were 159 coaches accused of sexual misconduct with minors over a 10-year period. Ninety-eight of them continued to coach or teach. And how did the school hierarchies respond? To quote this article: “When faced with complaints against coaches, school officials often failed to investigate them and sometimes ignored a law requiring them to report suspected abuse to police. Many times, they disregarded a state law requiring them to report misconduct to the state education office. Even after getting caught, many men were allowed to continue coaching because school administrators promised to keep their disciplinary records secret if the coaches simply left. Some districts paid tens of thousands of dollars to get coaches to leave. Other districts hired coaches they knew had records of sexual misconduct.”

“In another example, Carol Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan looked at 225 cases of abuse by educators in New York City. Shakeshaft reported: “All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach. Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations. Some were even given an early retirement package.”

“I could go on, but you get the idea. After investigating the issue, I found that, sadly, there is nothing different going on in the Catholic Church than in any organization where men are in contact with children, and that it’s an unfortunate fact of human nature—and not something unique within the Church—that people in hierarchy tend to look the other way when it comes to bad conduct by the people who report to them.”