The New York Times
New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, blogging on the sex abuse scandal:
What causes us Catholics to bristle is not only the latest revelations of sickening sexual abuse by priests, and blindness on the part of some who wrongly reassigned them — such stories, unending though they appear to be, are fair enough, — but also that the sexual abuse of minors is presented as a tragedy unique to the Church alone.
That, of course, is malarkey. Because, as we now sadly realize, nobody, nowhere, no time, no way, no how knew the extent, depth, or horror of this scourge, nor how to adequately address it.
There is truth to this. The Catholic Church is not unique among large institutions in having a problem with sexual abuse. The American public school system is rife with sexual misconduct, and the same is presumably true of most religious denominations, Boy Scout-type groups and so forth. Any organization devoted to the care and education of the young is going to attract would-be abusers, and provide settings for misconduct and criminality. Nor was the Catholic Church unique in misunderstanding the scope of the crisis it faced from the early 1960s through the 1980s: Catholicism’s abuse problem wouldn’t have spiraled so far out of control if a host of American professions — psychiatrists, policemen, lawyers, judges, etc. — hadn’t been similarly inclined to downplay the risks of abuse and overstate the ease with which the problem could be managed. Nor, finally, is the archbishop wrong to see a certain amount of anti-Catholic and anti-religious animus motivating the media’s often-obsessive coverage of the priest-abuse scandals, and the level of scrutiny that the church receives relative to other institutions.
But I wish that he and others would think twice before complaining so vociferously about it. Call out bad reporting, by all means; defend yourself against unjustified allegations, definitely. But don’t spend too much time complaining about a double standard, or griping about being unfairly targeted. Because, after all, the church is the church — not the public school bureaucracy, not the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts, not the American juvenile detention system or the Scientologists or any other organization that you might not be surprised to discover has a problem with sexual abuse.