Why Did Bishops Cover Up Abusers?

Perhaps our Catholic readers here have their own understanding of why Bishops covered up sexual child abusers.  We who are not Catholic may see it differently.

Attached is an essay that includes an email message from an anonymous priest.  He  explains the thinking back at the time these cases happened.

The priest explained priesthood was seen as such a special institution it needed to be defended at all costs.  The more priests the better, the fewer the worse.

On top of that, the priest mind was programmed to forgive.  I suppose sitting there, bored to death, listening to confessions of nasty deeds and always saying, “You are forgiven,” plays with an otherwise rational mind.  Then, the priest becomes a bishop and, “You are forgiven, Brother”.

Just today I received an email from a retired academic.  He had taught in a Catholic university.  He believes incompetent clergy were rotated around Catholic universities. In the case of his institution, a President’s credentials were false.

We know such problems are not limited to the Catholic branch of Christianity.  It’s not even limited to religion.  It’s a product of power, secrecy and a lack of accountability.

The new rule is abuse by Catholic clergy will be reported to law enforcement. Yet, the Church’s power remains with the Clergy, not in the pews.

I’m afraid the child abuse problem is still seen by Catholic clergy as yielding to the temptation of sin.  It should be seen as a flaw in the way the institution is organized.


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14 Responses

  1. buzz marick

    We basicly hand clergy a free pass to abuse us financially, emotionally,sexually, egotistically with our own individual need to be holy enough to pass muster, which church leaders are more than eager to curry and stroke our ego’s. Not all by any means, but enough to start rotting the whole barrel, so to speak. By the way, when is that dude from rural Wolverton that mishandled all the funds of Lutheran diocese in Moorhead going to get called to task?

  2. entech

    Like any organisation, the Catholic Church is organised for the benefit of the hierarchy. If the reputation of the business falls (I use business and organisation as interchangeable terms) the benefits accruing to the management (leadership, if you prefer) are badly devalued. The same behaviour has been found to be widespread, there is a big inquiry going on in Australia at the moment, covering all church and government run orphanages.

    The claims of the church to be the direct descendents of whomsoever handed over the keys to the kingdom, the mythical saviour. At least different versions held to by the different version of “one true faith” at least one must be a myth, an inconsistent myth at that. This attitude makes it easy to suggest and work by the idea that the institution is more important than anything else, after all there is only one way to escape eternal damnation (actually each version has there own version of the only way).

    The same thing happens with sporting clubs, swimming coaches have escaped the consequences of inappropriate behaviour towards 13 year old girls, at least, in one case until the girls got to at championship level and they had to listen to her. Some scandal about a high school football coach came up in America a year or so ago if I remember correctly a couple one this site used it to say paedophiles and Gays were the same because the coach was preying on younger boys (actually not many girls play football?).

    1. entech 3:19 “The attitude makes it easy to suggest and work by the idea that the institution is more important than anything else..it is the only way to escape eternal damnation.”

      That license, that “I” (we) have credentials given us by God himself causes heartache in so many places and ways. There is the child abuse by clergy, both Catholic and Protestant. The taking of peoples money because “I” tell you tell Bible commands it. When Pat Robertson and a host of others say they heard from God. That otherwise smart people allow this to happen all around is sad indeed.

  3. Michael Ross

    ” It’s not even limited to religion. It’s a product of power, secrecy and a lack of accountability.”
    You hit the nail on the head, Jon. The New Testament pattern is local churches under local leadership, accountable to the local congregation. A religious hierarchy or denominations concentrate power and influence in the hands of too few. The Catholics and Mormons are the most guilty but does affect all denominations to some degree. I believe the church was meant to be a pattern for society. The church has been ignored or laughed at and now we have governmental, corporate, and monetary power along with almost all the wealth in the economy concentrated in the hands of a few elitists in Washington and on Wall Street. It represents a failure of the Church to show the world the Way, Truth, and Life.

  4. Stanta

    I don’t know, why do school administrators hide abuse? One teacher has been in the “rubber room” for 13 years in NYC.

    1. Stan 6:35 “why do scholl adminstrators hide abuse?”

      I would guess there is no school policy to hide abuse. Instead, there would have been a policy to turn abuse over to police. The school adminstrator who hid abuse would have been violating the policy and held accountable when caught. In the Catholic Church, he would have been promoted to Pope.

    2. entech

      Once again Stan, tell me, I find it so hard to understand, exactly how does the failings of other groups, and I think you will find most people on this topic are fair about spreading the blame and wrongdoing, somehow exonerate your group?

      Every time something like this comes up we always get – what about “some others”. OK I will play your silly game, “why do school administrators hide abuse?”, perhaps you will play mine, “What happened when Mohony was in charge that got Gomez so riled up?”, is the history of cover up really as egregious as it is being revealed? is the Catholic Church really innocent and just being sucked in by the evil of others 😆

      It all happened it is time to stop hiding, spreading the blame and guilt, wrong has been done the best thing is to admit and make sure it never happens again.

    3. Stan 6:35 The thing about comparing scum bag teachers with scum bag priests and bishops is this. The teacher does not carry certification from the school that he decends from a linage that goes back to the 12 diciples and, therefore, Jesus himself.

      To me, the biggest problem the Catholic Church as an institution has is the way it oversells it clergy. The clergy I know are wonderful men, members of the faith like yourself are the finest of people, but the institutional mythology is off the mark.

      1. Jinx

        For an intersting read on the so called unbroken line from the 12 apostles……..google The Cadaver Pope…….just something else the church denies.

  5. Jinx

    I have long observed the higher up in the hierarchy the church one goes the more likely they are to circle their wagons and protect their own. Another positive correlational relationship is the higher in the heirarchy, the higher the level of hypocracy. I do believe their are powerful factions in the Vatican that act without the knowledge of the pope (doesn’t necessarily exclude Ratzinger though…..especially with his history!!!).

  6. entech

    Several times lately Psalm 14:1 has been brought up against the atheist, as if it mattered what words written by believers for believers, thanks Kay you expressed so much more concisely that I could.

    This topic reminds that only the first sentence is quoted the second goes They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.. Does this refer to the Bishops (and others in similar positions)?
    Australian orphanages in the 50s and 60s were particularly bad for physical, mental and, as usual, sexual abuse. The present government has recently apologised on behalf of it’s predecessors for two related things, the encouragement (almost compulsion) for “young unwed mothers” to put up their babies for adoption when so many simply finished up as “wards of the state” (in the above mentioned orphanages), the second apology was to the children involved for the awful treatment they received.

  7. kay syvrud

    I think millions have been puzzled by the abusers’ coverup. That denomination is very much affected by a shortage of priests.
    Another most curious religious practice among Amish in Wisconsin a few years ago: a girl in a family was serially raped by one of her brothers. When she finally fled her home he was brought to trial in a WI court but his Amish church was so sad because they had forgiven him and that was all that needed to=be done according to them.
    Man- made “rules” in churches and sects absoltely ruins Biblical instruction and doctrine.
    If churches would practice true Biblical discipline as prescribed in the NT things would be far different.

    1. buffalogal 3:58 Good post. I remember several years ago listening to a long piece on Canadian Public Radio about the discovery of rape of little girls by tribal officials in remote areas of Cananda where they had almost absolute power over things.

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