The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #162491   Message #3867419
Posted By: Joe Offer
21-Jul-17 - 12:44 AM
Thread Name: BS: Clerical Abuse of Children
Subject: RE: BS: Catholic Abuse of Children
I was a college student in the seminary for the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee from 1966-70. Even then, the archdiocese was aware that there was a problem with priests molesting children. As a result, seminarians were subjected to stringent psychological screening. In the second year of college, we were all given a battery of psychological tests, and we each had an interview with a psychiatrist. One Monday morning early in my third year of college, 10 classmates were gone, without explanation from anyone. We figured out that the ten had been removed because they had failed the psychological testing. Few of those who were removed were big surprises - they were all pretty strange. I was never aware of any sexual abuse problems while I was in the seminary, but I see at that two seminary professors I knew were accused of sexual misconduct and were removed from ministry. In all, I knew 13 of the Milwaukee priests on the "accused" list for Milwaukee and two from Sacramento. The Sacramento priests were both good friends of mine, but I saw nothing about them that raised any question in my mind. The accusations against one of the Sacramento priests are just too much to deny. The other one was exonerated.

In the 1970s, the Catholic bishops of the United States pooled their money and built several state-of-the-art treatment centers for priests with mental health and addiction problems, and sexual problems including molestation of children. The psychiatrists who staffed these centers promised sure results, and the bishops believed them. Troubled priests were sent to the centers for 6 months to a year of treatment, and then were sent home when they were certified as "cured." Many bishops reassigned priests to new assignments as soon as they came home with a certificate of rehabilitation. It took a number of years to determine that a number of "cured" priests just went right back to their previous misconduct. Some were sent from one parish to another, hoping that "cured" priests would find a good fit in a second parish if they didn't fit into the first assignment.

Mind you, there were far too many dioceses who just turned a blind eye to the problem of molesting priests - I think that mostly they were afraid of the cost of reparations for these criminal priests, and they put their finances above the concerns of the victims of these crimes. I think that a good number of dioceses, including my own Sacramento Diocese, did their best to handle each sexual abuse case quickly and with compassion for the victims - even back in the 1980s.

There was almost no press coverage of the sexual abuse problems in the Catholic Church for a long, long time. In 1983, the National Catholic Reporter published its first story about the Catholic sex abuse scandal. It has reliably cranked out articles about church sex abuse ever since - and many bishops hate this publication. I've subscribed to the newspaper since it was first published in the 1960s.

The sex scandal was hidden by the Catholic Church in Europe for a much longer time, and I don't know why that coverup succeeded for so long. Maybe because they didn't have a nasty little newspaper like the National Catholic Reporter, or maybe because the Catholic Church in Europe was more often a "state religion."