This article is not about bashing the Catholic church. I was raised Catholic, was an altar boy, and spent 4 1/2 years in the Catholic Seminary. What this article is about is the systemic child abuse that has been perpetrated over decades by the main professionals of the Catholic church, its priests. This abuse, further, has been covered up and enabled by the Church's hierarchy responsible for such behavior, it's bishops.
Here in Batavia, NY there has been a big flap over the last month when neighbors found that a Class 2 sex offender was living in their neighborhood and they were not informed. On July 27, 2005, the City of Batavia police department has put up on its web site the list of names, addresses, pictures, and details of the crime of all sex offenders now living in the city. This is a move in the right direction to protect people whom sex offenders live among, but it got me thinking. The most systemic child abuse in the United States among a professional class, and the most outrageous bungling of it that failed to protect the public, has been in the Catholic church. So, if the community is really concerned about its safety they should make note of the location of, and who is living in, all Catholic rectories in their communities, because the statistical chance of identifying child sex predators would be greatest by identifying who the priests are living among them.
Do you think I am over reacting?
Well, here we go again. On July 25, 2005 it was reported in the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle that a priest who had been assigned to St. John's parish in Spencerport, NY, just 8 miles from my office, has been arrested for sexual abuse.
(July 26, 2005) — A Spencerport priest accused of sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child is scheduled to make his first court appearance at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday in Rochester City Court.
The Rev. Dennis Sewar, 54, will be arraigned on charges of third-degree sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors. The charges stem from an alleged incident when Sewar was pastor of Church of the Annunciation in northeast Rochester, where he was pastor from 1999 to 2001.
Then I am reading in the August 1-8, 2005 issue of America magazine, the magazine published by the Jesuits, on page 6, how the San Francisco diocese just settled some of its sex abuse cases for 16 million and the month before had settled a bunch of cases for over 21 million which in two months brings the total settlements to over 37 million bucks!. That's a lot of widow's mites in the collection box.
For the second month in a row, the San Francisco Archdiocese has announced a multimillion-dollar settlement in cases of sexual abuse by a member of the Catholic clergy. The archdiocese announced on July 8 that it settled 12 cases for approximately $16 million. On June 10 it announced it had reached a settlement for $21,250,000 in 15 cases. In his July 8 statement, Archbishop William J. Levada of San Francisco said all the cases in the latest settlement involved the late Rev. Joseph Pritchard. “No parish or school assets were used in the funding of this settlement,” the archbishop said. The amount of the settlements to come from insurance coverage has yet to be determined “so no specific dollar figures concerning the archdiocese’s contribution can be disclosed at this time, other than to confirm that the contribution is in the millions,” he said.
Recently, I have gotten interested in their disengenuousness when authority figures, representing various sectors of our society, diminish the seriousness of the abuse perpetrated by their representatives by saying that it is the behavior of just a few "bad apples" as if this relieves them and their organization and their administrative structure from responsibility. We heard that from Rumsfeld regarding the abuse at Abu Ghraib, and we have heard that from Bishops and other Catholic officials regarding the extensive and pervasive priest pedophile abuse.
Obviously, it is not just a "few bad apples", and without a change in the governance structure and the policies and procedures that are designed and implemented by these organizations, the dysfunctonal behaviors will continue to manifest from time to time because they are a product of a system larger than the symptomatic individual.
Link: Democrat & Chronicle: Local News.