Sensationalist headlines in the mass media, repeated ad nauseam all over social media, give fuel to anti-Catholic bigotry and encourage physical attacks, abuse and discrimination against ordinary Catholics as well as Catholic clergy and religious.
Just recently a Catholic priest, Fr. Basil Hutsko, whom it should be stressed has never been accused of any sexual crime, was attacked and beaten unconscious in the sacristy of his church in Indiana, USA. The attacker reportedly said when launching the attack, “this is for all the kids”, in reference to the lurid and unrepresentative coverage in the media.
So, actually, how common is child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church according to the official data from independent investigative reports? And how does it compare to child sexual abuse in society as a whole?
We can get a very good idea by comparing the number of victims identified in independent investigations with the length of the period under investigation and the number of Catholics who experienced their childhood years during that period. By doing so we learn the approximate percentage of Catholic children who suffer sexual abuse in an institution like a school, church or orphanage run by the Catholic Church.
The extensive 2004 John Jay College of Criminal Justice investigation, covering the entire USA, found that there were 10,667 reported cases of child sexual abuse in Catholic institutions over a 52-year period. It can reasonably be said that during that 52-year period at least half of the seventy-million-strong Catholic population of the USA went through their childhood years. In other words, the official data records that approximately 0.03% of Catholic children in the USA were victims of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions over a period of fifty-two years.
Staying in the USA, the very recent Pennsylvania Grand Jury investigation reported that 1,000 children were recorded as victims of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions in Pennsylvania over a 70-year period. With seventy years being roughly the average length of a human lifetime it can reasonably be said that three-million, two-hundred thousand children, which is the size of the Catholic population of Pennsylvania, went through their childhood during this seventy-year period. In other words, the official data records that approximately 0.03% of Catholic children in Pennsylvania were victims of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions over a period of seventy years.
In Ireland, the extensive Commission to Enquire into Child Abuse revealed in its Final Report in 2009 that, over a thirty-four year period, 170,000 children passed through Industrial and Reformatory schools run by the Catholic Church. A total of 369 people made complaint to the Commission during its nine-year-long confidential investigation that they had suffered sexual abuse in these institutions. In other words, the official data records that 0.2% of Catholic children in Ireland were victims of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions over a period of thirty-four years.
Finally, in Australia, another extensive investigation, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, found that 4,444 claimants reported sexual abuse in Catholic institutions. This was recorded over a period of 35 years, which is approximately half a lifetime. The Catholic population of Australia is 5,440,000 and it can reasonably be said that roughly half that number of Catholics experienced childhood during the 35-year period under investigation. So, in other words, the official data records that approximately 0.16%.of Catholic children in Australia were victims of sexual abuse in Catholic institutions over a period of thirty-five years.
It’s often claimed that many victims of sexual abuse don’t report it through fear, or embarrassment, or for other reasons, so the true number of victims will be higher. Unfortunately, whilst this may well be true, we cannot know it if they are not reported and recorded. If a guess is made as to what percentage of victims do not report child sexual abuse the same rule and measurement must also apply to the officially recorded data for child sexual abuse in the rest of society.
Horrifically, the U.K.-based National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) records a study published in 2000 by Cawson et al, called ‘Child Maltreatment in the United Kingdom: A Study of the Prevalence of Child Abuse and Neglect’. The extensive study records that an enormous 16% of children under sixteen-years of age suffer sexual abuse.
In the USA, Rind et al found in 1998 in a meta-analytical study compiled from 23 independent studies, that between 22% and 23% of children under eighteen-years of age suffer sexual abuse
So, the next time you come across an anti-Catholic bigot trying to whip-up hatred against Catholics and against Catholicism, using clerical sexual abuse as an excuse, be sure to make use of the facts and figures from the official data to demolish the myths and the lies that are being used in an attempt to overwhelm and undermine Catholicism. Be sure to point out that child sexual abuse is a hundred times worse, or even thousands of times worse, in so-called “normal” society than it is in institutions run by the Catholic Church.
As the famous Catholic convert G.K. Chesterton once said: “When people impute special vices to the Christian Church, they seem entirely to forget that the world (which is the only other thing there is) has these vices much more.”
Many who are concerned today about the state of the Catholic Church point to the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
For some the Council represents “a Second Pentecost”; to others, however, it represents “a Second Crucifixion.” For the former the latter are dissident, disobedient and even schismatic; for the latter the former are modernist, heretical and even apostate.
How is it possible that a Church Council could provoke such turmoil and such profound hostility amongst the faithful? Is it a matter of misunderstanding? Is it a matter of interpretation? Or is it a question of Dogma misrepresented and distorted?
This informative reference handbook is the first of its kind. It compares the authoritative pronouncements of the Church both before and after Vatican II, in a convenient double-column format.
At the turn of a page, the reader can judge for himself which is the correct diagnosis of today’s crisis. It presents the evidence clearly and concisely, while aggressively challenging those who declare: “There is no crisis in the Church”.
For a single copy within the UK please send a cheque or postal order for £15.00, payable to: ‘The Saint George Educational Trust’, to: SGET, 225 Andover House, George Yard, Andover, Hampshire, SP10 1PB
Pro-life families from County Tyrone, in Ireland, made their voices and their presence felt at the Civil Rights commemoration march held on Saturday 18th August.
Fifty-years ago the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association marched from Coalisland to Dungannon to highlight and protest against anti-Catholic discrimination in the north-east of Ireland, particularly over social housing allocation.
On Saturday hundreds followed the original march route in commemoration, with a large number of civil rights marchers taking the opportunity to protest against Sinn Fein and its abortion policy. A Sinn Fein representative recently made it known that the party hopes that the British government will do its murderous work for them by introducing abortion into the north-east of Ireland.
Outraged civil rights protesters spent the afternoon drowning out rally speeches from Sinn Fein representatives with chants of ‘The North says No’, and ‘Sinn Fein hypocrites, now they’re working for the Brits’!
The 900-page investigative report of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury that examined more than half-a-million internal documents of dioceses in Pennsylvania, USA, discovered that 1,000 children had been sexually abused over a seventy-year period.
The report, which was released on 14th August 2018, identified 301 priests responsible for abusing at least 1000 victims.
These horrific crimes should be dealt with as they were in the Catholic past, with sentences including the death penalty being administered to convicted perpetrators.
But, in contradiction to the lurid headlines and disgusting stories liberally circulated by Mass Media and assorted anti-Catholic bigots who never miss a chance to slander and incite hatred against Catholics or the Catholic religion, the actual data revealed by this thorough independent review should be welcomed by Catholics and put into proper perspective.
Just as with previous analyses of official data undertaken by The Saint George Educational Trust, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury actually proves that Catholic institutions are still a far, far, safer environment for children to be in than the rest of society.
The latest report covers a period of 70 years, which is basically a human lifetime. So, the report essentially covers the lifetime of the entire Catholic population of Pennsylvania.
There are over three-million, two-hundred-thousand Catholics in Pennsylvania. Approximately one-thousand of them became victims of sexual abuse by clergy.
In other words, around 0.03 percent of Catholic children in Pennsylvania suffered sexual abuse at the hands of clergy.
Outside of the Catholic environment, official independent studies show that in the USA around a quarter of all children under eighteen – nearly 25% – are victims of sexual abuse.
As G.K. Chesterton famously said: “When people impute special vices to the Christian Church, they seem entirely to forget that the world (which is the only other thing there is) has these vices much more.”