Thursday, 27 October, 2005
From: "Rory Connor"
To: "Letters Irish Independent" [NOT PUBLISHED]
In her letter on 27 October Sheila McMorrow comments "the percentage of priests in abuse cases doesn't seem to be compared to the amount of child abusers in other professions. How many teachers, doctors, bin men, lawyers or MPs have ever taken part in...child abuse?"
That's a good question but don't expect "liberals" in this country to provide such data. In December 2003 the Royal College of Surgeon’s published a study on clerical sexual abuse. This pointed out that the Irish Times used the term "paedophile priest" 322 times between August 1993 and August 2000. Apart from the term "paedophile farmer" which was used 5 times, no other occupation was linked to paedophilia in reports. I understand that the references to "paedophile farmer" occurred when a social worker wrote to the Irish Times to enquire why it never used such terms and a farmer then wrote in to protest!
In the USA however certain studies have been done. The following is from an article in "The Nation" magazine on 22 September 2003. The author Joann Wypijewski is a senior editor at the magazine which is the American equivalent of The New Statesman i.e. it is "progressive", feminist, liberal, pro-gay, anti-Bush etc. (Ms. Wypijewski is referring to Philip Jenkins book 'Paedophiles and Priests'.)
"Jenkins offers no brief for the church's sexual agenda or its errant priests, but he rightly suspects games of "gotcha." He notes that the soundest study of priestly sexual misconduct--involving 2,252 priests over forty years--indicates that 1.7 percent behaved badly, such behaviour ranging from inappropriate speech to rape, and in only one case involving a true paedophile: i.e., an adult sexually interested in prepubescent children. Obviously, some 1,500 priests accused of any sexual abuse between the 1960s and 2002 indicates trouble, but Jenkins argues that honesty demands a recognition that (a) incidents of paedophilia are rare, (b) priests hold no monopoly on such behaviour and (c) "there is strikingly little evidence that clergy of any kind are any more or less likely to abuse than non-clerical groups who have close contact with children." A 1998 study by Education Week, for instance, cited 244 incidents of teacher-student sex over a six-month period, ranging from unwelcome touching to consensual relations to serial rape, an average of nine cases a week. The press has not elevated this to "social problem" status. (my emphasis)"
The last sentence is crucial and it applies to Ireland as much as to the USA..
Irish Independent 27 October 2005
I cannot stay silent about the unjust slandering of the priests of Ireland. In class, if one says 'altar boy' or 'priests' everyone giggles or makes some kind of seedy remark. I attend a school run by priests; however, only three or four actually teach in the school.
I find it hard to believe this does not affect all priests unfairly. We seem to be generalising the situation and condemning all priests, bishops and deacons. Next thing you know the Pope will be under investigation.
I find it appalling that we are blaming priests for all child abuse cases. There has been few, if any, statistics which show the percentage of priests involved in such heinous and criminal acts.
The percentage of priests in abuse cases doesn't seem to be compared to the amount of child abusers in other professions. How many teachers, doctors, bin men, lawyers or MPs have ever taken part in such events and child abuse? I would like answers.
How many other professions are receiving the same stigma? At the moment, none - only priests. I am not suggesting priests who took part in this disgraceful, unjust, disgusting behaviour aren't to be blamed, but where is the comparison between other professions and positions?
I believe we need to be properly informed before we can slander and ruin the name of the priesthood, or any other group, without the full facts.