Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Humor & Truth

Bill Maher’s video clip is exemplary of his biting sarcastic humor, that frankly I find entertaining. I especially enjoyed his movie, Religulous; however, what is disturbing about this particular video clip is that while it does a wonderful job of attacking symptoms it fails to expose the cause of the problem of sex-abuse in the Catholic Church.

Pedophilia is an inexcusable violence and crime against children. Despite the most determined efforts of law enforcement agencies and the judicial system, such crimes will continue to occur. Just as murders, rapes, and assaults still occur despite the fact that these are criminal acts and prosecuted as such. According to the John Jay School of Law in New York City, “The 4,392 priests who were accused amount to approximately four percent of the 109,694 priests in active ministry during that time.” Logically, that means that ninety-six percent (96%) are not pedophiles. Another stereotype is that pedophiles are predominantly gay. The reality is that most pedophiles self-identify as straight (heterosexuals). A pedophile is an adult who violates children and this has nothing to do with sexual orientation; rather it is a psychological disorder.

Perhaps the reason why such false stereotypes are attractive is because, disturbingly most acts of pedophilia are incestuous. By characterizing pedophiles as Catholic priests and/or gay men, attention is drawn away from two things. First, that it is most probably a heterosexual family member, or relative who will violate your children. There is a false comfort and security in believing that pedophiles are “one of those people” and not someone seated at my family’s Thanksgiving meal. Secondly, the real scandal in the Catholic Church is not that there are pedophile priests. The real scandal is their superiors had knowledge of such crimes and failed to report them to law enforcement and District Attorneys.

Imagine if a Superintendent of a School District knowingly transferred a pedophile teacher from one school to another in the School District. Further imagine that Superintendent paying parents/guardians money to remain silent and requiring the student to sign a statement that he/she would never divulge what happened. What would happen to that School Superintendent if all of this became public?

Can you name one (1) Cardinal, Archbishop or Bishop who has faced criminal prosecution for their role, not merely in obstructing justice, but thereby actually causing new incidents of pedophilia? Visit for a detail listing of such incidents and documentation. Even more disturbing is the fact that documentation exists that links the current Pope Benedict XVI with the Cover-Up Scandal.

Focusing exclusively on the small percentage of priests who are pedophiles and alluding to pedophilia as a gay crime reinforce false stereotypes. Not only does this cause many innocent people to suffer unjustly, but these stereotypes also serve to draw attention away from the real criminals. It may sound counter-intuitive; however, I’ll bet that the Pope and Catholic bishops are very happy that comedians and the public think that the problem is bad gay priests. It is not, the problems are bad bishops and American District Attorneys who lack the political guts to go after them. One of the reasons that politicians lack the guts to do their job is because of false public (voter) perceptions regarding this issue. Bill, please do a show on the Bishops role in all of this and since you are in LA, perhaps you could invite Cardinal Roger Mahony to be your guest.

PS: Since I wrote this post, I ran across this letter from LA Times columnist Steve Lopez to the new Archbishop of LA, Jose Gomez. The letter is posted on


Mareczku said...

Father, your comments are excellent and you make good points but the video clip is quite offensive and anti-Catholic. I noticed how Bill and the other people were laughing. Perhaps it is joke to them, Catholics are a joke to them but to many of us it is not a laughing matter.

Father Geoff said...

Dear Mareczku,

I read the other day that the largest religious group in the USA are Roman Catholics and that the second largest religious group in the USA are former Roman Catholics. Many of these people have been hurt and harbor anger against their faith of baptism.

The reason people laugh at Bill Maher’s jokes is that, like all humor, it contains a grain of truth. My commentary was intended to redirect the focus, where it can accomplish some much-needed reform. That reform is necessary to help end injustice to victims and to purify the Church.

Tal said...

Father Geoff, exactly on target.

I thought it quite obvious that the bishops who were (and still are) responsible for the scandal were more than happy to throw rank and file priests under the bus. The child abuse scandal has always been a unique creature of the hierarchy. But it has ground up or threatened the reputations of many good priests who had no idea of the evil their superiors had secreted in their parishes and most often whisked away, before the priest had any notion of the damage that had been caused.

Yet not one bishop has fallen. Nor has a single public official, rank upon rank of whom assisted the bishops in covering up the abuse over many decades. They took public funds yet failed utterly to protect the people whom they were sworn to protect.

It is quite obvious that the bishops have gone out of their way to blame the scandal on homosexuals, frequently with the help of 'conservative' politicians and pundits. It's the typical tactic. Accuse a minority of uncontrolled and dangerous sexual deviancy. Blacks raping white women. Gays raping children. And quite shockingly, many seem accepting of this result.

Mareczku said...

Tal, Bishop Raymond Lahey of Nova Scotia has fallen. Also Bishop Alphonsus Penney of St. Johns, Newfoundland resigned in disgrace. So it is rare, but it happens.

Father Geoff said...

Hi Tal,

Yes, but both of the bishops you cite are
Canadian. The only bishop who came close
to prosecution, that I know of, was Cardinal
Bernard Law of Boston. Since then he has
moved to Rome.

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