In the latest issue of The Weekly Standard Joseph Bottum makes the case that the recent headlines involving the pope and sex abuse of children are simply an outcropping of ages-old anti-Catholicism. Overall I think it’s a strong argument, and a great read.
It’s also an interesting survey of the facts regarding sex abuse in the Church and the hierarchy’s response. I for one did not fully comprehend these numbers:
Then there’s Ireland-ground zero for the European scandals raging now, just as Boston was for the American scandals back in 2002. Brendan O’Neill, editor of the Spiked-Online website and no particular friend of the Church, points out that the Irish government’s official commission spent 10 years, from 1999 to 2009, intensively inviting, from Irish-born people around the world, reports of abuse at Irish religious institutions. Out of the hundreds of thousands of students who passed through Catholic schools in the 85 years from 1914 to 1999, the commission managed to gather 381 claims-with 35 percent of those charges made against lay staff and fellow pupils rather than priests.
“It might be unfashionable to say the following but it is true nonetheless,” O’Neill concludes. “Very, very small numbers of children in the care or teaching of the Catholic Church in Europe in recent decades were sexually abused, but very, very many of them actually received a decent standard of education.”