It seems like an easy question: What are the sex scandals in the Catholic church all about?
If you look at the coverage, week after week, it’s clear that many journalists covering the latest wave of news about the scandals are still wrestling with this issue.
Obviously, the scandals center on acts of sexual abuse and harassment by Catholic clergy. The question, apparently, is this: Who are the victims? Reporters have to answer that question in order to get to the next big question: What sacred and secular laws are being broken?
After decades of following this story, and talking to activists on the Catholic left and right, the basic facts are pretty clear.
The vast majority of the victims are young males between the ages of 11 and 18. Then there are significant numbers of prepubescent victims, male and female, being abused by criminals who can accurately be called “pedophiles.” Also, there are many adult men (many are seminarians) and women involved in sexual relationships with priests and bishops, some consenting and some not. The size of this last group is assumed to be large, but there are few facts available.
With this in mind, pay close attention to the lede of the latest New York Times update on the Vatican’s shocking move to stop U.S. Catholic bishops from taking actions to discipline bishops accused of various sins and crimes.
BALTIMORE — Facing a reignited crisis of credibility over child sexual abuse, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States came to a meeting in Baltimore on Monday prepared to show that they could hold themselves accountable.
But in a last-minute surprise, the Vatican instructed the bishops to delay voting on a package of corrective measures until next year, when Pope Francis plans to hold a summit in Rome on the sexual abuse crisis for bishops from around the world.
Many of the more than 350 American bishops gathered in Baltimore appeared stunned when they learned of the change of plans in the first few minutes of the meeting. They had come to Baltimore wanting to prove that they had heard their parishioners’ cries of despair and calls for change. Suddenly, the Vatican appeared to be standing in the way, dealing the bishops another public relations nightmare.
What is the crisis all about? The answer, throughout this article, is “child abuse,” and that’s that.
It’s interesting to note that the article does not include references to two crucial words in this latest wave of scandal ink — “McCarrick,” as in ex-cardinal Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick — and “seminaries” or “seminarians.”