Wow. Bill Donohue is going to love Andrew Brown. Brown has written a defense of the Catholic church titled “Catholic child abuse in proportion“; you can tell right away exactly where it is going to be going. ‘Only’ 4% of American priests have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor, and as much as 27% of American women report a history of childhood sexual abuse (to quote just a pair of statistics he uses), therefore, Catholic priests aren’t that bad. Which means…
Certainly the safeguards against paedophilia in the priesthood are now among the tightest in the world. That won’t stop a steady trickle of scandals; but 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.
He doesn’t mention any statistics on any other profession. So kids are more likely to be raped by your local policeman, college professor, grade school teacher, construction worker, farmer, dentist, carpenter, plumber, doctor, or whatever than your local priest? Brown hasn’t shown any evidence at all that that is the case. And I think he would have an even tougher job trying to demonstrate that rapists in these other professions do it while carrying out their duties, or while wearing a uniform of propriety in quite the same way priests do.
As for this claim that priests now have tight safeguards…I haven’t seen any evidence at all of that. The Catholic church doesn’t seem to be cleaning house at all, nor does it have any history of doing so; the pattern has been to hide and protect abusers in their ranks, until they are dragged out into the light by secular investigations.
And then Brown goes ahead and lists a series of reasons why the pattern of Catholic abuse has been regarded with an especially deserved horror. Doesn’t he even read what he writes?
So why the concentration on Catholic priests and brothers? Perhaps I am unduly cynical, but I believe that all institutions attempt to cover up institutional wrongdoing although the Roman Catholic church has had a higher opinion of itself than most, and thus a greater tendency to lie about these things. Because it is an extremely authoritarian institution at least within the hierarchy, it is also one where there were few checks and balances on the misbehaviour of the powerful. The scandal has been loudest and most damaging in Ireland, because it came along just at the moment when the church was losing its power over society at large, and where it was no longer able to cover up what had happened, but still willing to try. Much the same is true in the diocese of Boston which was bankrupted by the scandal.
Hmmm. Andrew Brown is a member of a beleagured institution, journalism, which by his own argument should have just as large a proportion of people who carry out child rape in the execution of their responsibilities as do Catholic priests. I think he therefore has a responsibility to turn whistleblower and report all of his colleagues who have gone out to interview children and abused their authority to obtain sex. Surely, the Guardian must be harboring nests of pedophiles that the newspaper protects by shuffling them out to distant assignments when their crimes become excessive.
Stop protecting child-raping journalists, Brown, and come clean. You’ve convinced me, they must be just as bad as the Catholic priesthood.