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From the Archives: “But Everyone Else Does It!” Andrew Brown and the Defense of the Catholic Church Child Rape Scandal

Since I moved to the Freethought Blogs network, I have a bunch of new readers who aren’t familiar with my greatest hits from my old, pre-FTB blog. So I’m linking to some of them, about one a day, to introduce them to the new folks.

Today’s archive treasure: “But Everyone Else Does It!” Andrew Brown and the Defense of the Catholic Church Child Rape Scandal. The tl;dr: Andrew Brown wrote a defense of the Catholic Church’s behavior in the ongoing worldwide child rape scandal, saying that priests aren’t the only authority figures to rape children, and it’s not fair to single the Catholic Church out for criticism. I respond by ripping him a new asshole.

A nifty pull quote:

The Church knew about widespread reports of priests repeatedly molesting children… and instead of acting to protect the children, they acted to protect the priests, and themselves. Thus deliberately and knowingly putting more children in the way of known child rapists, solely for their pure self-interest.

Repeatedly. Time and time again. In every part of the world. As a cold-blooded matter of Church policy.

That is the scandal.

The fact that some adults in positions of trust and authority over children violated that trust by raping them? That is a tragedy. The fact that the Catholic Church knew about it — and instead of reporting the child rapists to the police, they deliberately shielded them from detection and criminal investigation? The fact that the Church moved child rapists from parish to parish, thus exposing even more children to them? The fact that they lied to law enforcement, concealed evidence, even paid off witnesses… purely to protect their organization from looking bad?

That, Mr. Brown, is the scandal.

You fucking moral imbecile.

Enjoy!

Comments

  1. Ariel says

    I’ve never made by myself any in-depth analysis of the situation. Perhaps I should give it a try, in order to form at last an opinion on the issue (my own, for my own use. I’m really ashamed to admit that I haven’t done it yet). So just some questions to all of you; if someone could help me, I would appreciate it.

    There is every reason to think that child rape among Catholic priests occurred — and for all we know, is still occurring — at a much higher rate than in any other field where adults have access to children and authority over them.

    Are there any comparative data on this (like: comparing child rape among Catholic priests with child rape among teachers, or child psychologists … you know). Where can I find information of this sort?

    What makes the Catholic child rape scandal so morally repugnant, and what is giving it the effect of turning people away from the Catholic Church in horror, is the way the Church handled it.

    The same question: are there any comparative data available? Has anyone ever tried to compare the extent of cover ups (that’s what the quoted fragment is about) happening in the Catholic church with analogous cover up attempts in other institutions?

    By the way, one more question, not referring directly to Greta’s text. Recently I’ve seen some information on the net about new reports giving a significantly higher percentage of accused priests (something like 10 percent – appalling if true) than John Jay study. Have you heard of it? If so, is anyone able to give a reliable source (not a newspaper, but a source explaining the methodology and the calculations?)

    Thanks in advance; of course I will look for answers also by myself (yes, I know there is a device called “google”), but if you can spare me some effort, I will be grateful.

  2. says

    I am going to say that I believe that what we know so far is just the tip of the iceberg. I say that because when we think we know it all, something else happens………..Ireland……….The KC Bishop being charged. This past year or so we have had huge revelations in Europe, but just some parts of Europe. There is no reason why other countries have not had the same situation, in fact there is every reason to suppose they have, we just don’t know about it yet.

    We know a lot about the USA and Canada, we are starting to know about Mexico, we know a lot about Ireland, Germany and Holland. We know a little about Italy, Spain and France. We know very little about Sth America and Africa, except that in both cases, we have seen the tip of the iceberg, so we can be reasonably sure it is there.

    Historically, the RCC has, over the centuries, slowly made rules that clerics are supposed to follow, and as a wise man said, you don’t need laws about murder, if no one ever murders. So we can be reasonably certain that this has been going on for at least 1600 years, and we know that it is still going on.

    If you explore it, don’t be surprised if you have to throw up on occasions.

  3. Otrame says

    Ariel, the first part of your question is, as Greta noted, irrelivent. It doesn’t matter one little bit if priests are, on average, more or even less likely to rape a child. What matters is that the catholic church as a matter of policy protected the rapists and didn’t even make an attempt to keep them away from kids.

    Other institutions have had child rapists among them, and there have been attempts on an individual level to keep it quiet when it is discovered, but as far as we know, there is no other institution that actively and as a matter of policy did such a thing. And the worst thing is that not once has a priest AT ANY LEVEL in the hierarchy come forward and said, “This is going on. Here are names and dates. I can’t be part of this anymore and call myself anything but a monster.”

  4. hoverfrog says

    There is something to be said for the way that they are acting now. If you wanted to destroy the Catholic church by attacking its reputation there is no better way to do this that to expose their web of lies and abuse. Child molester and Catholic Priest are synonymous for good reason and people are becoming more and more sceptical about the trust given to these men in funny hats. That is a good thing. Its just a shame that innocent children suffer to see this happen.

  5. says

    Here’s something I missed the first time this went around:

    I think that objectively your child is less likely to be abused by a Catholic or Anglican priest in the west today than by the members of almost any other profession.

    Interesting turn of phrase there. Makes me wonder what the internal numbers are for Catholic priests committing child rape in Asia and Africa.

  6. 'Tis Himself, OM says

    Ariel #1

    Are there any comparative data on this (like: comparing child rape among Catholic priests with child rape among teachers, or child psychologists … you know).

    It doesn’t matter if the number of raping priests is miniscule compared to other people with regular access to children. The Catholic Church decided as a matter of official policy to support and protect the rapists. The dignity and prestige of the church is more important to the hierarchy than the welfare of children. And this organization claims to be the moral authority on Earth.

  7. Ariel says

    Otrame and ‘Tis Himself, OM

    Ariel, the first part of your question is, as Greta noted, irrelevant. It doesn’t matter one little bit if priests are, on average, more or even less likely to rape a child.

    That depends. Various charges against the CC are in fact made; for some of them it’s relevant, for some not. Be that as it may, I think that the statistics supporting Greta’s claim (see the first quote in my first comment) would significantly strengthen the case of the critic. So the question is not completely moot. (But since you think the statistics are irrelevant, I will not go in this direction in the discussion, at least for a moment. Anyway, I’m still in the course of exploring the portal recommended by michaelcowtan – thanks by the way!)

    In your further attempts to explain what the scandal really is about, you raise two issues. They seem to be independent to a large degree, so I will keep them separate. These issues are:

    (1) The cover up in CC is a unique phenomenon – “there is no other institution that actively and as a matter of policy did such a thing” (Otrame). And that probably explains why no other cases received so extensive media coverage – on this view, there are simply no other cases like that.
    (2) After what happened, the CC has no right to present itself as “the moral authority on Earth” – apparently, “prestige of the church is more important to the hierarchy than the welfare of children” (‘Tis Himself, OM)

    From what I saw, (1) looks problematic. Even a quick search (and I cannot claim to have done anything more) permits you to identify some similar cases. Read e.g. here and here.
    Note the similarities to the CC scandal: moving “troublesome” teachers from school to school, not reporting the delinquents to the police, keeping secret files, the reluctance of the school (or the scout) authorities to handle the issue – all of this seems in place. And frankly, I would be very surprised if practices of this sort happened only in the CC. My suspicion would be rather: give a large group of people access to children with very loose external control, and that’s what is going to happen. Nothing unique there.

    In effect it looks like (2) is a safer way to proceed and in my opinion it’s difficult to quarrel with it. Note that you can accept (2) even if you have problems with (1) – for (2) it is not important whether what happened in the CC is unique: even if it is not, then those other institutions can’t be treated as “the moral authorities on Earth” either, and that’s it. (Or perhaps I’m so at ease with (2) because the whole “we are the supreme moral authority” claim looks like bullshit also for independent reasons, not connected with the abuse scandal, so there is nothing really surprising here?) Explaining (or rather: rationalizing) the differences in media coverage may be more problematic, but one can live with that.

    Anyway, these are my initial reactions.

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