Pastor’s Message September 9th, 2018

Unlike most commentators William Donohue* of the Catholic League (Ph.D. in Sociology) read most of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report. He recently published a statement to debunk many of the myths and lies that mar the report and/or interpretations of it. Here is an edited (for brevity’s sake) version of his statement. I want you to see another side of the story! Then you can draw your conclusion.
Myth: Over 300 priests were found guilty of preying on youngsters in Pennsylvania. Fact: No one was found guilty of anything. Yet that didn’t stop CBS from saying “300 ‘predator priests’ abused more than 1,000 children over a period of 70 years.” These are all accusations, most of which were never verified by either the grand jury or the dioceses. The report, and CBS, are also wrong to say that all of the accused are priests. In fact, some were brothers, some were deacons, and some were seminarians. How many of the 300 were probably guilty? Maybe half. The 2004 report by the John Jay College for Criminal Justice found that 4 percent of priests nationwide had a credible accusation made against them between 1950-2002. That is the figure everyone quotes. But the report also notes that roughly half that number were substantiated. If that is a reliable measure, the 300 figure drops to around 150. During the seven decades under investigation by the grand jury, there were over 5,000 priests serving in Pennsylvania (this includes two more dioceses not covered in the report). Therefore, the percent of priests who had an accusation made against them is quite small, offering a much different picture than what the media afford. Remember, most of these accusations were never substantiated.
Importantly, in almost all cases, the accused named in the report was never afforded the right to rebut the charges. That is because the report was investigative, not evidentiary. Though the report’s summary suggests that it is authoritative, it manifestly is not. The report covers accusations extending back to World War II. Almost all the accused are either dead or have been thrown out of the priesthood.
Myth: The grand jury report was initiated to make the guilty pay. Fact: False. It has nothing to do with punishing the guilty. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro admitted on August 14, that “Almost every instance of child abuse (the grand jury) found was too old to be prosecuted.” He’s right. But he knew that from the get-go, so why did he pursue this dead end? Why did he waste millions of taxpayer dollars in pursuit of alleged offenders when he knew he couldn’t do anything about it? Because he, and his predecessor, Kathleen Kane (who is now in prison for lying under oath and misusing her Attorney General’s office) wanted to shame the Catholic Church. Kane and Shapiro have never sought to shame imams, ministers, or rabbis—they just want to shame priests. They won’t conduct a probe of psychologists, psychiatrists, camp counselors, coaches, guidance counselors, or any other segment of society where adults routinely interact with minors. Shapiro, and those like him, are delighted with all the salacious details in the report. When it comes to non-priests, news reports on sexual misconduct typically note that a sex offense has occurred, but readers are spared the graphic accounts. Not when it comes to priests—they love to get as explicit as they can. It’s not just Shapiro who is interested in appealing to the prurient interest of the public.
Myth: Shapiro is seeking to right these wrongs by pushing for legislation that would suspend the statute of limitations for sexual crimes against minors, allowing old cases to be prosecuted. Fact: This is one of the most bald-face lies of them all. Neither Shapiro, nor Pennsylvania lawmaker Mark Rozzi, who is proposing such legislation, has ever included the public schools in these proposed billsthey only apply to private [read: Catholic] institutions. In most states, public school students have 90 days to report an offense. That’s it! Which means it is too late for a student raped by a public-school teacher to file suit if the crime occurred this year at the start of the baseball season. Public institutions are governed under the corrupt doctrine of sovereign immunity; few politicians have the courage to challenge it. In the few instances where states have included the public schools in such legislation, guess who goes bonkers? The public school establishment (teachers’ unions, school superintendents, principals) all scream how utterly unfair it is to roll back the clock and try to determine if the accused is guilty of an offense that took place decades ago. They are right to do so; [but] they are rarely called to action. The reason we have statutes of limitation is because many witnesses are either dead or their memories have faded. The public school industry understands the importance of this due process measure, and rightfully protests when it is in jeopardy. So why is it that when bishops make the exact same argument, they are condemned for “obstructing justice”? The hypocrisy is nauseating.
Myth: The abusive priests were pedophiles. Fact: This is the greatest lie of them all, repeated non-stop by the media, and late-night talk TV hosts. Let me repeat what I have often said. Most gay priests are not molesters, but most of the molesters have been gay. Not to admit this—and this includes many bishops who are still living in a state of denial about it— means the problem will continue. How do I know that most of the problem is gay-driven? The data are indisputable. The John Jay study found that 81 percent of the victims were male, 78 percent of whom were postpubescent. Now if 100 percent of the victimizers are male, and most of the victims are postpubescent males, that is a problem called homosexuality. There is no getting around it. How many were pedophiles? Less than 5%. That is what the John Jay study found. Studies done in subsequent years—I have read them. Shapiro fed the myth about this being a “pedophile” scandal when he said the victims were “little boys and girls.” This is a lie. Anyone who actually reads the report knows it is a lie. Most were postpubescent. This doesn’t make the molestation okay—the guilty should be imprisoned—but it is wrong to give the impression that we are talking about 5-year-olds when more typically they were 15-year-olds. The New York Times, which has been covering up for homosexuals for decades, found it convenient to highlight the minority of cases where females were allegedly abused; so did many in the media who take their talking points from the Times. The Times is so dishonest that it mentions a “sadomasochistic clerical pedophile ring in Pittsburgh that photographed boys they had posed to look like Jesus Christ, then gave them gold crosses to show they had been groomed.” The section of the report that discusses this alleged offense cites Father Gregory Zirwas as the ringleader. Every person whom he groped was a teenager, meaning this was a homosexual ring. But, of course, the unsuspecting reader doesn’t know this to be the case. In short, this is a ruse. The Times wants the reader to believe that this is a pedophile problem, and that females are as much at risk as males, thus discounting homosexuality. This is patently untrue, but it feeds the lie that this is not a homosexual scandal! It also allows people like Anthea Butler, who calls God a “white racist,” to say, “The Catholic Church is a pedophile ring.”
Myth: Bishops who sent abusive priests back into ministry did so out of total disregard for the well-being of the victims. Fact: This lie is perpetuated by the grand jury report when it ridicules bishops for having priests “evaluated” at “Church-run psychiatric centers.” The fact is that in the period when most of the abuse occurred— the mid-1960s to the mid-1980s—almost all persons in authority who dealt with sexual offenses, in any institution, relied on the expertise of those in the behavioral sciences. Quite frankly, it was a time when therapists oversold their level of competence, and many continue to do so. There were very few psychologists or psychiatrists at the time who didn’t overrate their ability to “fix” offenders. The bishops relied upon them for advice. Yet the media rarely hold them accountable for misleading Church lawyers and bishops.
Conclusion: What is driving the current mania over this issue is not hard to figure out. I am a sociologist who has been dealing with this issue for a long time, having published articles about it in books and international journals. Here is what’s going on. There are many vicious critics of the Catholic Church who would like to weaken its moral authority and will seize on any problem it has to discredit its voice. Why? They hate its teachings on sexuality, marriage, and the family. These very same people delight in promoting a libertine culture, which ironically was the very milieu that enticed some very sick priests and their seminarian supervisors to act out in the first place. There is nothing wrong with Catholic teachings on this subject: If priests had followed their vows, and not their id, we would not have this problem. Those who refuse to use the brakes God gave them, straight or gay, should be shown the gate or never admitted in the first place.
* Dr. Donohue is the national President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights