Why Do Catholics Get All the Blame for Clergy Abuse?
At his blog Tillers on Evidence and Inference, author and law professor Peter Tillers wonders why the clergy sex-abuse scandals of recent years have focused on Roman Catholic priests. "I thought to myself that Protestant clergy (for example) surely also occasionally succumb to sexual temptation and engage in wrongful sexual conduct," he writes.
Tillers put the question to a reporter at The Boston Globe who helped break the story about sexual abuse by priests. " The reporter replied "that there is a consensus that child sexual abuse by Protestant clergy is not a problem." Tillers does not buy this. "I think it is very unlikely that wrongful sexual conduct by members of the clergy in Protestant churches is less common than wrongful sexual conduct by Roman Catholic clergy," he says.
In his post this week, Tillers ponders why media outlets seem to have focused on sexual abuse cases involving Catholics to the exclusion of clergy in other religions. He does not have an answer, but he offers some possibilities:
- Simple ignorance that non-Catholic clergy "do it too." If that is the explanation, says Tiller, "I am inclined to view such ignorance as willful."
- Homophobia fueled by the perception that homosexual sexual abuse of minors is not as common outside the Catholic church.
- Anti-Catholic bias on the part of media outlets such as the Globe and the New York Times.
- An agenda driven by plaintiffs lawyers whose lawsuits almost exclusively targeted Catholic clergy and the Roman Catholic Church.
This last point may be the most plausible but it begs the question, Why did the lawyers target the Catholic Church? Tillers' answer: "The hierarchical structure of the Roman Catholic Church made it possible -- after some tinkering was done with immunity rules pertaining to non-profits -- to bring actions for damages against entities with relatively deep pockets."
And now that these lawyers have emptied those deep Roman Catholic pockets, Tillers writes, "we can expect to see -- and I think we are seeing -- an increasing number of sex abuse lawsuits against Protestant clergy and churches, Jewish clergy and organizations, other religious organizations and their clergy ... and -- eventually -- educators (regardless of religious persuasion) and those who employ educators."
Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 10, 2009 at 02:35 PM | Permalink
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