Wednesday, May 4, 2011

More Catholic excuses

I say more, but what I really mean is "More of the same." A recent anonymous comment was added to an older post about the Catholic Church desperately trying to find anyone to blame but themselves for the recent and ongoing child sex abuse scandals revealed in multiple countries around the world. Rather than try to fit my reply into a couple of seperate comments thanks to bloggers annoying comment length limit, I thought that it was a good excuse for a new post, since I've been quiet for a while.

Our intrepid anonymous commenter (henceforth known as Beatrice) basically trotted out two excuses used with disturbing monotony by the Church and its apologists:

  1. But it wasn't every priest doing it.
  2. Blame it on the gays. If there were no gays, this wouldn't have happened.

Seen it before, often out of the mouths of very senior members of the Church. They were both bullshit the first time we heard them, and they're still bullshit now.

Let's look at what was said about number 1

Beatrice opened with:

I enjoy reading comments like these. I'm hoping to be a Catholic priest myself and I'd rather the church just flat out say we screwed up.

Not sure why the post brought so much enjoyment, but I think you'll agree by the time we get to the end that it may have something to do with the fact that Beatrice either didn't read it or didn't understand it. And the Church saying "We screwed up" really doesn't quite seem to do the widespread physical and sexual abuse of children across the world for centuries much justice, does it?

"Sorry about that whole slavery thing. Our bad."

Then on to the meat:

To add a bit more rationality to the picture, technically only 0.3% of priests have molested children.

The irony of someone believing in an invisible sky fairy lecturing others on rationality seems to have skipped by Beatrice completely.

But where does this number come from? I'm going to go out on a limb and say pulled out of Beatrice's arse. No source is immediately cited, no figures given for the conclusion. How does Beatrice know how many priests have raped children? Even the Church can't say how many priests have raped children, how does Beatrice therefore arrive at this figure?

Here's a piece of advice Beatrice - making up numbers or misusing them does not make for a rational argument except in the most esoteric and worthless philosophical sense. Here it will get you laughed out of the room.

It is this simple - WE DON'T KNOW HOW MANY PRIESTS HAVE MOLESTED CHILDREN. Therefore, claiming only a certain number of them has is bullshit. What we do know is the tiny number who have been caught. Perhaps then Beatrice is referring to the fact that only 0.3% of priests have been caught molesting children (we'll see later, but this 0.3% seems to actually be that, out of reported instances of child abuse in the USA in 2006 priests made up only 0.3% of the perpetrators, Beatrice seems to have misread this, but for now we'll go with their reading of the figure).

According to the Catholic Church there were (in 2009) 5,065 bishops and 410,593 priests. Lets just say that only priests molest children, for the sake of argument. That's 1,272 priests in 2009 alone.

The problem is, these scandals don't cover just one time period, they cover centuries. The church has been getting away with it for that long. Take a look here. The numbers start to add up very quickly just in modern times alone. 200 here, 58 there, 22 in that place. Then take a look at the damage just one priest can do. Some of these evil bastards had dozens, and in some extreme cases possibly hundreds, of victims each.

But here's more to think about. We know that most sexual assaults go unreported just in society at large. That link cites sources claiming that as many as two thirds of rapes/assaults go unreported in the USA. That is in an open society with a well developed legal and judicial system. We know that the Catholic Church is the exact opposite of this. If that figure cited by Beatrice is only a third of the rapists (for simplicities sake) then that means there could have been as many as 3,816 rapist priests in 2009 alone. If you look at a closed hierarchical system more like the Catholic Church, say the US military, then the number of unreported sexual assaults can become horrific - the Pentagon estimates that 90% of assaults go unreported. So if that figure of Beatrice's is the 10% of reported rapists, that means there were 12,720 rapist priests in 2009 alone, correct? Wow. That figure ain't looking so rosy now, is it?

But that would be only if everywhere in the world was just like the world's most developed democracy, wouldn't it? Take another look at the Wikipedia page I linked to on Catholic sex scandals. Notice anything about the countries cited? They are overwhelmingly from the developed or 'nearly' developed world. Not many from the third world, are there? Anyone think of a reason why sexual abuse cases in the Catholic Church aren't being reported from failed states, isolated missionary posts and states with endemic corruption or incompetence? Anyone seriously believe that there is no sexual abuse going on where people are less likely to find it and do something about it?

No, me neither.

So, what we have is only the few cases we've found in places where it is eventually likely to be found and something done about it. We have evidence of what Catholic priests do when they think no-one will catch them or care. In fact, from what we see of the Jesuits in Alaska we know the Catholic church will dump pedophiles where they think no-one will find them - there are more likely to be rotten priests in the third world countries where we won't catch them. Where they can get away with it at will.

The simple fact of the matter is that Beatrice's 0.3% figure is a disgusting attempt to excuse the inexcusable by painting a rosy picture using dodgy numbers - it is a cast iron assumption to believe the abuse that has come to light in recent years is merely the tip of the iceberg. I shudder to think what is going on in parishes out of the sight of the developed world's media and law enforcement, because I can guarantee it isn't better than it was here.

That number is obviously still higher than it should be.

No. Really? That number is also bullshit. It is misinterpreted and meaningless and does not take into account what we know about repressive or controlling organisations and the reporting of sexual crimes.

That number also does nothing to excuse or explain the Catholic Churches consistent, constant and unrepentant covering up of child rape by its members. It wouldn't matter if it was only two priests if the Catholic Church successfully kept it secret and just moved them around and around. Which, if it hadn't been caught, it would still be doing (and, let's face it, almost certainly is still doing). The Catholic Church enabled the repeated rape of children and didn't care - it only cared when it got caught. Because of this it doesn't matter if it is 0.3% of priests or 100% of priests. The Catholic Church lays claim to moral authority and states that I have none because I am an atheist - yet which of us has covered up mass incidences of child rape? Which of us continues to do so?

Furthermore, most Catholic priests really don't know why there were these priests who decided to be go off the deep end.

Irrelevant. And I notice it didn't stop you spouting your own theory, which we will get to shortly.

From another perspective, understand that there is the church, which is the largest humanitarian organization in the world and mostly filled with plenty of good people, and the church which has a select number of d bags too afraid to say the truth in fear that people will run away when some priests screw up.

Again, this is irrelevant. If you as an organisation cover up and/or participate in the mass rape and physical abuse of children I don't give a flying fuck what other good you do, you should be broken up and scattered to the winds to be looked upon with disgust by future generations. Still need an outlet for humanitarian aid? Join the Red Cross. Work for the UN. They don't make excuses for chronic pedophiles.

This yahoo question also adds a bit of historical reason into the seen.

Ah, now I see where that 0.3% number comes from. And I was close, its a misreading of old data, rather than just made up. Still classifies as "pulled from the arse" though. The figures are from 2006 - before many of the large abuse scandals came to light, and they only represent figures in the USA, not the world. And then the comment by imacatholic2 at the Yahoo link also relys on reports guessed it.... the Catholic Church! Well, they're a reliable source for this data. Why, it isn't like we know that the Catholic Church knowingly covered up child sexual abuse or something, is it? I can't imagine why it would be that the Catholic Church might report only a few cases of abuse in the USA between 2000 and 2007, when it was still getting away with covering this shit up because the tide hadn't yet turned. Especially since we now know for a fact that there were not 15 cases but hundreds. For crying out loud, iamacatholic2 starts his comment off with "A few Catholic priests..." Not sure which dictionary definition of "few" he is using, but it isn't the same as mine.

Beatrice - using out of date data, biased sources and demonstrably false claims to support your argument really isn't going to help you.

What about "the gays"?

Also rationally,

Stop saying that if you don't know what it means. Citing someones bigoted opinion from a Yahoo answers page does not make your argument rational Beatrice. It makes you look lazy and bigoted.

if most of these molestation cases were performed on mostly boys, and often by men who were gay priests

How do you know that the priests performing the abuse were "often" gay men? Cite your source that the majority of the abuse was carried out by gay men because they were gay. Go on, we've got time.

Here's how I know you didn't really read the post you were commenting on Beatrice, I actually cited sources that show pedophilia is not something done because of homosexuality, or even exclusively by homosexuals. Pedophiles often can't be shoved into a convenient box labelled "gay" or "not gay". If you had bothered to read the post you commented on, you would have seen this. If you did read it, then maybe you should try understanding it. For the record, here's the report I cited, again. At least try to understand what it is saying this time.

who were gay priests, who entered the priesthood because in the 1950s and 1960s when being gay was so frowned upon there literally was no where else to go

See now Beatrice, this is what happens when you take your ideas from ignorant and poorly educated bigots who provide Yahoo answers. I think you'll find that 1950s and 1960s Europe and North America were not 13th century France. Were conditions for homosexuals great in the 50s and 60s? Hell no. Did families ship their sons off to the church? Don't be ridiculous. Literally nowhere else to go? Literally, the only thing for a gay man to do in the 1950s was to join the priesthood? The Catholic priesthood. The anti gay Catholic priesthood.

You know, you can't find the word "gullible" in the dictionary Beatrice. True fact.

But go on, you made the claim, now prove it. Start with an accurate estimate (show your working) of how many gay men there must have been in the USA in the 1950s and 60s. Then how many of these were from Catholic families. Then compare that to the number entering the priesthood in those decades. We can wait. They had nowhere else to go after all. Literally.

and a hand full of these same priests did this garbage it's still not surprising that the Vatican doesn't want to see anymore gay priests With the backlash against the church being this high for this the church would want to do everything it could to prevent this from happening.

Being gay has nothing to do with pedophilia Beatrice, you and the Catholic Church need to get over it. Can you even show that the rapist priests we know about now are gay? Any of them? Can you then show the only reason they did what they did was because of their homosexuality and nothing else?

No, of course you can't. You know what a claim without evidence is Beatrice? It's a guess.

I prefer the term bullshit myself, but I'm not going to split hairs this late in the game.

I have another theory, one completely supported by the evidence. Do you know what all of those child rapist priests were, for definite? They were all of them, 100%, every single one, Catholic. Homosexuality doesn't seem to be the one thing they have in common, does it? Catholicism is the one thing they have in common. Now, if I were to play this game the way the Church does I could claim that being Catholic seems to turn some people into child abusers and you have absolutely nothing you can say that disputes this. The evidence supports me 100%.

But I don't play the Churches way. I'm not that kind of scum.

After all, as bad as this sounds, a straight individual isn't going to molest a boy.

Wrong. You know, in the days of Google, this type of ignorance is unforgiveable. Let me give you the money quote from the report I cited:

The distinction between a victim's gender and a perpetrator's sexual orientation is important because many child molesters don't really have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or children of both sexes...

Try reading what is written and then understanding it, before commenting on it. "Straight" pedophiles can, and do, molest children of their own sex Beatrice.

But that doesn't really describe the whole picture here. What is really at question is the chilidsh notion that whilst adult heterosexuals are considered only to want to have sex with adult members of the opposite sex, it is assumed that homosexual adults must want to have sex with anyone of the same sex, regardless of age. Why is this? I'll tell you. It isn't evidence based, it is naked prejudice, pure and simple.

Homosexuality isn't the cause of pedophilia, pedophilia is the cause of pedophilia. Adult homosexuals want to have sex with consenting adult homosexuals just like adult heterosexuals want to have sex with consenting adult heterosexuals. Pedophiles want to have sex with children. Some pedophiles are homosexual. Many more pedophiles are heterosexual. Only ignorant half wits confuse homosexuality with pedophilia and conflate the two. I also don't hear heterosexuality being blamed for instances of child abuse by priests. You should think long and hard about what that says about your prejudices.

But, there's even more. And it is the logical gaping hole in your allegedly rational argument. If these priests were just gay, why didn't they simply do what other gay men do and seek out other gay men to have sex with? Why didn't they just not have sex with anybody instead of raping children? Is there something about being a priest that makes gay men attack children? Then the problem is with the priesthood, surely? Especially since we know straight priests have raped children as well. Why, it seems the common factor here is once again the Catholic priesthood and not sexuality at all. Being gay doesn't seem to be the problem at all, when you look at it rationally.

For the simpleminded who still don't get it I'll spell it out:

  1. Homosexuality does not equal pedophilia.
  2. Pedophilia does not equal homosexuality.
  3. There is no evidence that all, or even most, or even many, of the abusers were homosexual, but that is given by many Catholics as the reason for much of the abuse.
  4. The one thing the abusers did all have in common was being Catholic, for which there is evidence, but no-one blames that for the abuse like they do homosexuality, for which there is no evidence. Why?
  5. How does blaming homosexuality excuse and explain the comprehensive attempt to cover the abuse up, protect the abusers and ignore the victims? The people who did that were Catholic too. Spotting a connection yet?

So, here I am going to stick my neck out. Is the problem actually pedophilia and the fact that these men know that they will be safe in the priesthood and have a ready supply of victims?

I think for any rational person, the answer is obvious.


  1. "I'd rather the church just flat out say we screwed up."

    Ok, so Beatrice agrees the pope is not infallible. So much for being accepted into the priesthood, then.

    And of course, it's not even an admission of any actual mistake. The screw up was to let all those gays in. Really, each time a Catholic apologist opens their mouth on this issue, they just demonstrate again their permanent state of denial.

  2. Everything is true. Also consider the double standard which the church asks for:
    -when told they molest children, they quickly point their fingers to other institutions saying "they have done it too!"
    -when investigated by the police like any other institution they say: "but we are men of god!"

    he nailed it, and is funnier than me:

    Also Beatrice can't be a priest because she's a woman, she may be a nun, but she won't be able to give mass or enjoy more prominent positions in the church.

  3. Good point Nico, but one minor thing- "Beatrice" was just the name I gave to an anonymous commenter, so the person that I gave that name to might very well be a man.

  4. Oh, ok. I thought Beatrice was the commenter's name (or at least the name used by he or she to comment under).

  5. I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility that Beatrice is a woman, even given the professed intention of joining the priesthood.

    If he or she is ignorant enough to think that homosexuality is a slippery slope to pedophilia, or can imagine the pope admitting he "screwed up", then it's also possible that he or she hasn't realized that the lack of females in the priesthood is anything more than a coincidence.

  6. P.S. Apologies to JB if I've cut you off again with an early comment - I forget I get a head start because of the time difference between Europe and the US.

  7. Good point, and absolutely no apologies necessary.

  8. I've just discovered your blog and absolutely love the way you subject slimy Vatican bullshit to the sharp weapon of intellect and the bright light of truth. As one of those at the centre of this issue I truly appreciate your stand on behalf of vulnerable children sexually exploited by Catholic predators.

    I have collected a few excuses of my own and list the top 10 at

    I would love to hear your take on the John Jay reports commissioned by the Catholic Church, using extraordinarily suspect raw data supplied by the Bishops responsible for covering up the abuse, and routinely misrepresented by Catholic apologists as "proof" the Catholic Church is a safer place for children than anywhere else. When, of course, nothing could be further from the truth.

    This is not just malicious, deceitful, and horribly hurtful to victims, it is actually very dangerous as it attempts to lull parents into a false sense of security.

  9. Thank you very much for your kind words - I don't have a lot of time right now to check out your blog but I am sure I will soon.

    I really need to get back to blogging!

  10. why are u trying to pin the faults of individual persons (the priests) to the head of the catholic church??? not just the pope but all other priests and bishops. like they can really control people... thats like trying to blame a coach for a players lack of will or skill. open your minds simpletons!! its not right wat the priests have done but at least dont condemn them all.

  11. Anonymous - if you want to leave comments in future pick a nickname, all subsequent posts you make anonymously will be deleted. Not because you won, not because I don't have an answer but because its my blog and that's the rule.

    That being said - what is it with the ignorant simpletons who think they have some killer counter argument to a blog post but clearly haven't read and understood the one they are replying to?

    why are u trying to pin the faults of individual persons (the priests) to the head of the catholic church???

    Provide a direct quote where I blame the actions of individual priests on the pope, all other priests and bishops. Go on, I dare you.

    You can't, because there isn't one. Or you'll provide one that simply proves you haven't understood what I wrote.

    But go on, we can wait.

    thats like trying to blame a coach for a players lack of will or skill.

    Good job I didn't do what you think I did then.

    open your minds simpletons!!

    This from someone that has a reading comprehension level somewhere around that of a flat tyre, can't use punctuation or grammar and can't spell.

    its not right wat the priests have done but at least dont condemn them all.

    I didn't. If you weren't an ignorant buffoon you might have understood that. If, and might have.