Conservatives must face John Paul II’s legacy in sex abuse crisis

National Catholic Reporter

September 26, 2018

By Michael Sean Winters

After the Vietnam War ended, U.S. military leaders recognized that they could not grasp what went wrong and begin to fix it unless everyone could speak with absolute candor. Every crisis demands the same, including the sex abuse crisis. So, while it is always a mistake to try and figure out what the crazies at Church Militant will do or say, it is important that we monitor what is being said by seemingly responsible people to make sure we are all keeping each other honest.

In a recent essay at The Weekly Standard, Mary Eberstadt wrote “The Elephant in the Sacristy, Revisted,” a kind of reprise of an article she first wrote in 2002. “Back then, like today, the plain facts of the scandals were submerged in what we now call whataboutism,” she writes. “According to these evasive maneuvers, the wrongdoing was supposedly explained by reference to clericalism, celibacy, sexual immaturity, and other attributes invoked to avoid the obvious.” And, for her, then as now, the key to understanding the scandal was:

A cluster of facts too enormous to ignore, though many labor mightily to avert their eyes. Call it the elephant in the sacristy. One fact is that the offender was himself molested as a child or adolescent. Another is that some seminaries seem to have had more future molesters among their students than others. A third fact is that this crisis involving minors—this ongoing institutionalized horror—is almost entirely about man-boy sex.

I think this misses the point that what really scandalized the faithful was not that some priests were perverts, but that almost every bishop in the country never thought to call the cops when confronted with the perversion. That was the real scandal.

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