Catholic League’s “Straight Talk” About Priest Sex Abuse

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights took out a full-page ad in the NY Times today. The ad is entitled “Straight Talk About the Catholic Church”. Bill Donohue, the League’s pugnacious president apparently authored the piece.
While the ad purports to be “straight talk” about the Catholic Church, most of the arguments offered are tired re-treads of what the Catholic bishops have been saying for years. In one instance, Donohue states, “The refrain that child rape is a reality in the Church is twice wrong: let’s get it straight-they weren’t children and they weren’t raped. We know from the John Jay study that most of the victims have been adolescents, and that the most common abuse has been inappropriate touching (inexcusable though this is, it is not rape).”
So, Donohue’s group is now splitting hairs and talking about “adolescents” rather than “children” which gives one the impression that it’s not as bad if an adolescent is sexually abused. That is just the type of reasoning that has caused such a problem for the Catholic Church. An adolescent boy or girl should never, ever be touched “inappropriately” by any adult. Furthermore, we’ve found that the euphemism “inappropriate touching” has been used in the Church documents as code for what any normal adult call sexual abuse.
In the same paragraph, Donohue concludes that the “issue is homosexuality, not pedophilia.” Really? Homosexuality is an attraction to a member of the same sex. It also implies that if the attraction is consensual, it’s a homosexual relationship. However, when an adult authority figure such as a priest makes unwanted sexual advances on an adolescent, that’s a crime. An adolescent isn’t capable of consenting to such a relationship. Donohue should know better.
Donohue also targets the grand jury process which he views as unfairly targeting Catholic priests. However, he fails to mention that the latest grand jury convened in Philadelphia was done so by a district attorney who is an active, devout Catholic. Unlike Donohue, he is able to distinguish between his Catholic faith and the criminal actions of priests who abuse minors and those in positions of authority who cover up for them.
Donohue’s NY Times’ ad didn’t do any favors for the Catholic Church. The public is tired of these lame excuses. They want corrective action. They want what we all want-our children to be safe and protected from sexual predators.