Many who are older might remember the TV show ‘Dragnet’ with Sgt. Joe Friday who interviewed people by saying, “Just the facts.” That line has come to my mind as I have read the torrent of commentary on clergy sexual abuse. So many writers are so poorly informed. Much of what has been written is far from the facts, and some are positing conclusions which are ridiculous. Maintaining a sane perspective through accurate analysis is needed more than ever.
On the one hand, the news about Archbishop McCarrick is horrendous; the Pennsylvania grand jury report is disturbing; and the letter by Archbishop Viganò was shocking. Yet, it is not helpful to have so many people blogging about these affairs, and who are jumping to imprudent conclusions. We do not benefit from so much drama.
In the recent article of the Wyoming Catholic Register, I offered my perspective on the situation. See page two of the WCR (http://www.dioceseofcheyenne.org/register.html).
Also, there is an excellent article by Thomas G. Plante, Ph.D., ABPP which is titled “Separating Facts About Clergy Abuse From Fiction” (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/do-the-right-thing/201808/separating-facts-about-clergy-abuse-fiction). He offers a rationale for four facts:
- No empirical data exists that suggests that Catholic clerics sexually abuse minors at a level higher than clerics from other religious traditions or from other groups of men who have ready access and power over children (e.g., school teachers, coaches).
- Clerical celibacy doesn’t cause pedophilia and sexual crimes against minors.
- Homosexual clerics aren’t the cause of pedophilia in the Church.
- The Church has used best practices to deal with this issue since 2002.
I encourage you to take the time to read that article. It offers a sane perspective in the midst of so much turbulence. Undoubtedly, these are challenging days, but the sky is not falling. We need to stay the course, and keep a sane perspective.