Fact: 90% of statistics are made up on the spot Perhaps then you just made up that statistic on the spot with nothing to back it up?
The point being always keep in mind that statistics can be and often are modified to reflect the bias of the one reporting the statistic. The Roman Church will give statistical evidence stating one thing, while Protestants and Orthodox will report statistics to show things in their light. Secularists will have their own axe to grind, so will issue statistics to condemn all clergy.
The big question is, of course, whether or not clergy of any stripe are more or less likely to be involved in child molestation than males of any other profession. But good luck finding non-biased reporting on that.
But, as far as the scandal itself goes, it definitely seems as if the Roman Church goes to greater lengths to gloss over or downright cover-up these incidents. This does not indicate that clerical celibacy is the issue, of course. It could be that since Rome has a more massive and centralized hierarchical bureaucracy than others it becomes easier to give in to a "good ole boy" mentality. Government, even church government, will go to great lengths to protect their own.
And I think this is the main issue. Child abuse will unfortunately happen, because man is sinful; and no one has yet figured out a way to effectively prevent any criminal action, let alone this one. But how we react to the child abuse is of paramount importance. Who is it we are worried about the most, the child or the priest?
This post hits the nail squarely on the head and my instinctive answer is that we must be worried about both innocent children and the wrongly accused professional. However, in our desire to protect the wrongfully accused, we have to ensure that we are not providing a safe haven for offenders and predators in which to take refuge.I have a few thoughts on the subject and I apologize if I ramble a bit.
Criminal justice experts generally assert that pedophilia is, to a large extent, a crime of opportunity and planning. The American laws requiring the registration of sexual offenders and the limitations on where they may reside or visit are premised upon that assertion in order to give them a legally sustainable basis. In order to protect children, we have identified a number of professions in which members must be vetted prior to being hired. (For example, in most states this includes child care workers, teachers, coaches....) In many states, religious organizations have sought and obtained exclusions from such mandatory review processes as well as laws requiring mandatory reporting of suspected child neglect and abuse to authorities. ( Professions required to report suspected abuse include teachers, doctors, health care professionals and many others. Clergy are typically exempted.) I suggest that we need to revisit those exclusions and that proactively, churches should propose ways to include church functions under the umbrella of such laws(with appropriate confidentiality exceptions.)
Careers which present offenders, or would-be future offenders, with the opportunity to be around and gain the trust of children are attractive to pedophiles. (I am talking here about non-relative based offenders, relatives can gain and abuse trust more easily from vulnerable children in their care.) The clergy is not the only career which presents such 'opportunities' to offend, but given the moral status and expectations of clergy, the public is more deeply offended when the failings of a clergyman are exposed.
Other professions certainly have their share of offenders. The medical profession, for example is not immune from such offenders. Earlier this year there was an incredible case of a pediatrician in Delaware who is accused of molesting children over a period of many years while maintaining the appearance of being a pillar of the community. In my area there is a pending case involving a retired Episcopalian priest, a man around whom rumors circulated for years, before his Bishop retired him from active ministry after allowing him to move several times between dioceses. Last year there was a high profile case involving a gymnastics coach for a travelling girls team which involved so-called 'sexting' and under-age sex as well as several cases involving high school teachers and under-age children. I am sure that all posters could relate similar stories from their local media.
All church organizations should establish easily understandable, and published, rules and regulations regarding the screening of persons pursuing vocations, including (where permitted by state law) the use of the sexual offender clearance process through the various state agencies compiling data about known offenders as well as psychological tests and background checks. Volunteers should be vetted with some form of reasonable background checks - even for small congregations. When allegations of abuse or misconduct are reported to parish or diocesan officers, they must be treated with respect and an initial determination, based upon existing, written standards and conducted by an individual or individuals at least minimally trained for such purposes, should be made to first determine whether the allegations are credible or not.
It is a difficult balancing act to protect the class of potential or actual victims and at the same time to protect the names and reputations of potentially innocent men and women. However, it is a task that we must undertake. It is all the more difficult for us as Christians in that we are torn between our obligation to 'hate the sin, but love the sinner' and our core belief in redemption and forgiveness.
It is not an easy dilemma.