THE DOUBLE STANDARD
by David Sisler
I spent several hours on Friday reading editorials from newspapers around the country about the Roman Catholic Church and its continuing problem of non-celibate priests – specifically those who are having sex with boys under their charge and are then moved to other parishes with no warning to the new congregations and no discipline to the offending priests.
For the next several paragraphs, I will allow those editorialists and reporters to write this column. I’ll be back.
“Most of what we are talking about here is not pedophilia but homosexual behavior between priests and teen-age boys” (The Wall Street Journal, April 26, 2002, unsigned editorial).
“The pope ... established the framework for the cardinals’ statement by apologizing to victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, and declaring that there was ‘no place in the priesthood and religious life’ for priests who abused minors” (United Press International – special thanks for this article was given to Marcella S. Kreiter of UPI’s Chicago branch).
“Men in authority abused their position by sexually abusing those who trusted them.” (Philadelphia Inquirer, April 26, 2002, unsigned editorial).
“‘There is a consensus that anyone who is a danger to children should not be in the ministry,’ said the Rev. Thomas J. Reese, editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine, America” (The Miami Herald, April 26, 2002, Donna Gherke-White).
“‘We're in control of this,’ Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., said at Newark International Airport in New Jersey. ‘Whoever has this problem is not going to be a priest in the United States.’” (The Nando Times, April 26, 2002, Maryclaire Dale).
“With strong condemnations and words of regret, America's top Roman Catholic leaders made it clear they understand action is desperately needed to stem the clergy sex abuse crisis” (The Nando Times, April 25, 2002, Richard N. Ostling).
“The sexual abuse issue won’t go away ... The lid has come off and a host of questions need thoughtful and complete answers” (San Francisco Chronicle, April 26, 2002, unsigned editorial).
“American Catholics want to be assured that the priests officiating at mass, overseeing their schools, counseling youth and teaching the next generation of priests are worthy of their trust and respect. To provide that reassurance, church leaders should review the church's system for recruiting and training candidates for the priesthood” (The Baltimore Sun, April 23, 2002, unsigned editorial).
“The church must show that it recognizes its obligation to protect children and parishioners from sexually abusive priests” (The Miami Herald, April 21, 2002, unsigned editorial).
“I don’t know which is more sickening: the proliferating reports of rape and sexual depravity by Catholic priests, or the corruption of the cardinals and bishops who covered up for these abusers and made it easy for them to keep finding fresh victims” (The Boston Globe, April 18, 2002, Jeff Jacoby).
As I said at the beginning of this piece, I read for hours. The quotes above are only a few of the many I read and filed. But hopefully these are enough to expose a pattern. Column after column, editorial after editorial denounces homosexual priests, denounces priests who prey on children, and applauds the Catholic Church for beginning to take a strong stand. Nevertheless, I remember back to the summer of 2000 when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a New Jersey lower court ruling and upheld the right of Boy Scouts to exclude homosexuals as Scout Masters.
Writing for The Washington Times on April 23, 2002, Charles A. Donovan powerfully states, “Many of those who are now in high dudgeon about the terrible scandal of priests molesting boys were either silent or in vocal opposition to the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scouts sought to keep avowed homosexuals from positions of leadership. The chattering classes found – and still finds – the Boy Scouts' policy morally outrageous. They are offended that any organization would assume that homosexual adults might find the temptations of leading impressionable boys and youth too powerful to resist. When the Boy Scouts narrowly won their case before the Supreme Court, editorial opinion in this country was almost uniformly condemnatory. And the guerrilla warfare that has been waged against the Boy Scouts since by some local school boards and community-chest charities has gone without censure in the mainstream press.”
A very noticeable double standard exists in our nation. It is the proverbial elephant in the living room – ignoring it will not make it go away. The Catholic Church is applauded – and rightly so – for moving, however slowly and however cautiously, to oust leaders who have sex with underage children (most of those sex acts are men with boys). But the Boy Scouts of America were almost universally vilified when they moved to exclude those same predators.
Consistency, thou art a jewel. Or you would be, if we could find you.
Copyright 2002 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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