Priests and Paedophilia

Richard Lucas has just written an excellent article on a really difficult subject – you can get it here – paedophilia, http://www.solas-cpc.org/articles/paedophilia/

This is an earlier Fleabytes which deals with the same subject from another angle.

19 thoughts on “Priests and Paedophilia

  1. David

    The article by David Lucas is quite thought-provoking, but it does not tackle the issue of paedophilia by the priest hood.

    However, your video is a typical example of a religious apologist changing the subject and blaming the problem on secularists without answering the original objection.

    That child molestation by priests was so rampant in the Catholic Church for years is a good enough reason for people to angry. After all, these people were in a position of responsibility and trust towards the children in their care and this is an institution that claims it alone knows the mind of God on moral matters and has the right to tell other people what they can and cannot do in the privacy of their own bedrooms.

    That the Church employed a deliberate, premeditated and carefully executed policy of covering up the abuse and relocating the priests responsible to other parishes for them to reoffend while threatening the victims and their families with excommunication and hellfire to maintain their silence was an act of criminal barbarity for which any non-religious institution would be dismantled and every crevice of it investigated to the nth degree.

    Rather like The News of The World and NewsCorp in relation to the much less harmful phone hacking scandal come to think of it.

    You try to take some of the heat of the Church by repeating the disgusting slur that many gay men are paedophiles. I suggest you take the time to read this article to begin to correct the flaws in your appalling view:

    Reflecting the results of these and other studies, as well as clinical experience, the mainstream view among researchers and professionals who work in the area of child sexual abuse is that homosexual and bisexual men do not pose any special threat to children. For example, in one review of the scientific literature, noted authority Dr. A. Nicholas Groth wrote:

    Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation. There appears to be practically no reportage of sexual molestation of girls by lesbian adults, and the adult male who sexually molests young boys is not likely to be homosexual (Groth & Gary, 1982, p. 147).

    Richard Dawkins most certainly does not say that physical child abuse is worse than preaching the “truth” of the Gospel in The God Delusion.

    What he actually says, David, is that the psychological damage caused by threats of hell fire to children can be far worse than certain “mild” forms of physical abuse such as brief inappropriate sexual touching that leaves the victim with a “yucky” feeling.

    That’s not Dawkins’ opinion; that is the testimony of a former Catholic who as a child was a victim of both the psychological and physical abuse she suffered at the hands of the clergy who fondled her and told her that her dead best friend would be burning in hell because she was a Protestant.

    You say that we should all turn to the Church’s love and moral message, echoing the abysmal words of reconciliation offered by Pope Benedict that the child victims needed to be healed with “the utmost loving pastoral care.”

    As the late, great Christopher Hitchens replied when he and Stephen Fry stuck it to the Catholic Church in the IQ2 debate in 2009, “Well, I’m sorry. They’ve already had that!”

    Sorry, but you’ll have to try harder next time.

    MSP

    1. MSP – a few corrections for you

      1) its Richard Lucas, not David.
      2) No -one is attempting to excuse priests who are paedophiles, nor blame it on secularists.
      3) No-one is denying that at least some parts of the RC church participated in a cover up which was disgusting.
      4) No-one is saying that ‘many gay men’ are paedophiles. Some are. As are some hetrosexuals. And some priests. And some gay priests. Can I suggest you read the article again.
      5) I have read TGD several times and there is no doubt that Dawkins suggests that ‘religious abuse’ (like teaching children the truth of the bible) is worse than child sexual abuse. He cites for example Nicholas Humphries.

      Apart from that your post is fine….except that your last comment is just puerile.

      1. David, your replies in order:

        1. Noted, with thanks and apologies to Richard Lucas.

        2. – 4. I praised Lucas’ article. It was your video to which I was objecting for attempting to deflect the heat away from the Church and onto gays, secularists and child abusers who do not hail from holy orders.

        5. His name is Nicholas HUMPHREY – singular. And Dawkins does not cite him as an example of religious child abuse in education as a voice of reason arguing for children to be protected from the dogmatic views of adults and not have their minds limited by superstition.

        Humphrey argues that teaching children to ignore hard scientific facts in favour of young Earth biblical creationism is an unjustified indoctrination of their minds in a similar vein as the ancient Incans carrying out human sacrifices on children to appease their sun god.

        Am I to take it then that you think it is perfectly acceptable for children to be terrified with the threat of hell fire no matter what psychological damage this does to them throughout their childhood and adult lives…?

        You may think that the bible is the perfect word of the Creator of the Universe but unfortunately the following 2000 years in advancements of science and common sense does not agree with you. Indeed, you probably have not met anyone whose worldview is as limited as those who wrote the scriptures of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

        There is no more scientific evidence for an eternal soul separate from the body and mind as there is for the Incan sun gods.

        The last comment was Hitchens’, not mine. And he was far more puerile on the topic writing as he did in God Is Not Great, ‘In the very recent past, we have seen the Church of Rome befouled by its complicity with the unpardonable sin of child rape, or, as it might be phrased in Latin form, “no child’s behind left.”’

        MSP

  2. David

    Is there a reason why you have not approved my comment?

    Had a busy weekend with no time to attend to your blog?

    Did I write anything overtly rude and offensive that crossed your boundaries?

    Or was my reply rather too close to an utter destruction of your case?

    Whatever the reason, if it is not approved within the next 24 hours, I’ll post an engrossed version of my comment on my own blog and invite you at least to allow a link to it on this post.

    Regards

    MSP

      1. David

        Thank you for approving my comments. I agree that it’s not good to spend all your time staring at a computer screen and often take a break from it myself.

        However, given that you posted it on a Friday, I thought you would have been prepared for some online debate over the weekend.

        MSP

  3. I wish to comment on the statistic you share that 2% of men are homosexual, whereas 35% of paedophiles are homosexual.

    You are quite right to stress that you are not saying all homosexuals are paedophiles. However, the layout out of a statistic in this way can lead many to assume that homosexuality in some way is a cause of paedophilia. All good scientists know that correlation does not prove cause and effect (there might be a third factor in common – who knows, perhaps homosexual children are more likely to be abused themselves as children, having an impact on their healthy sexual development*). We do not know the reason for this statistic and it most certainly does not mean that 35% of homosexuals are paedophiles.

    What the statistic really shows us is that 35% of paedophiles are homosexual, and therefore presumably the remaining 65% are heterosexual? The way we present statistics (and the ones we leave out) is very powerful in terms of influencing others.

    The study was also published in 1984. It would be interesting to read of more recent research if you know of any.

    The reason I feel this is important to highlight is that it is still very difficult for many gay people to be open and honest about their true nature (even with themselves, and particularly in many churches). Statistics such as these can easily be misunderstood and misapplied if we are not careful. There are still some in society who actually believe that paedophilia and homosexuality are the same thing. Thankfully we are slowly becoming more enlightened now as a society.

    I don’t think you wanted to cause harm by this, but I think it is worth reminding readers.

    God bless.

    *this is just an example to show how a third factor might be a cause of such a correlation – it is not an evidence based finding that I know of.

    1. MM – of course. We have to be really careful about both statistics and ‘research’. I suspect that anyone attempting to do such research today would actually lose their job. Our society is not interested in truth – they already have the meta-narrative and would not want inconvenient truths to get in the way! My point was not that homosexuals are paedophiles (most are not and most paedophiles are hetrosexuals) – but that a disproportionate amount of paedophile abuse is homosexual. The Christian perspective is surely that one should not be surprised when people reject Gods standards in one area of sexuality, that it leads to disintegration in others?

      1. Hi David

        Thanks for acknowledging and posting my comment.

        Your theory is scientifically very interesting. It would be great to be able to test out. In essence, your proposition is that the “third factor” I mention is that the rejection of God’s standard’s in one area of sexuality is a causal factor in disintegration of others.
        It would make a great Phd study!

        Of course, certain things would need to be clarified for the purposes of the study – for example, you and I disagree on God’s standards for sexuality (both of us take our view from the Bible, but have different opinions on it).

        Out of curiosity, do you personally believe that the disintegration is because of a person’s (psychological and knowing) rejection of what they believe to be God’s standard, or would there be a disintegration even if the person was unknowingly breaching a standard and in fact, thought they were upholding it?

        Say for example that I misunderstood God’s standard for Sabbath rest as being a day set apart for God (as well as physical rest) and instead used it to do a whole host of other activities, forgetting the setting apart component – do you think there would be a disintegration of parts of my life even though I believed I was doing the right thing (although had misunderstood)?

        Perhaps a way to boil down my question even further would be: do you believe there are consequences to unintentional sin in the same way as there are to intentional sin?

        God bless

  4. I suspect that anyone attempting to do such research today would actually lose their job.

    Actually, David, plenty of people are conducting such research.

    One of my lawyer friends is doing a PhD in child sex abuse on the side. Like you do…

    And human rights barrister Barbara Hewson attempted to start a debate on lowing the age of consent and introducing in limitation periods in order to prevent historic sex abuse prosecutions of old men.

    Although perhaps the website sp!ked was not the best place to do it.

    a disproportionate amount of paedophile abuse is homosexual.

    There is a massive difference both in morality and sexuality between two adult men having consensual sex in the privacy of their own bedrooms and an adult male paedophile forcibly having intercourse with an under-aged boy against his will.

    I object to male-male paedophilic acts being lumped into the same category as homosexual acts and I think most gay men would as well.

    The Christian perspective is surely that one should not be surprised when people reject Gods standards in one area of sexuality, that it leads to disintegration in others?

    Who on Earth said the Christian standards of sexuality are correct?

    If God disapproves of homosexuals, why did he create them in the first place?

    If you believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, why don’t you try reversing your sexuality for a few months and be a homosexual?

    The passage in Leviticus that is most quoted by the religious against homosexuality is surrounded by injunctions against eating shellfish and mixing cloth and linen.

    Perhaps society’s moral disintegration has comparatively little to do with sexual behaviour and more to do with our restaurant menus and clothes stores.

    And yes, I am arguing that paedophiles have no choice in their sexual feelings towards children.

    “Free will” is an illusion.

    However, morality does not depend on “free will”.

    Children deserve to be protected from those would seek to abuse them just as much as adults deserve to be protected from those who would seek to kill them.

    MSP

    1. “Actually, David, plenty of people are conducting such research.”

      -Glad to hear it. I wonder if any university will publish it if they come up with the ‘wrong’ results? I doubt it because they would then have committed the blasphemy of homophobia!

      “Who on Earth said the Christian standards of sexuality are correct?”

      God. You can of course replace God with the State and whoever happens to be in power at the time and let them decide the standards of sexuality.

      “If God disapproves of homosexuals, why did he create them in the first place?”

      – Logic fail. If God disapproves of polygamists why did he create them in the first place?

      “If you believe that homosexuality is a lifestyle choice, why don’t you try reversing your sexuality for a few months and be a homosexual?”

      – Too simplistic a view. There may well be genetic factors in homosexuality (as there may be in alcoholism, bad temper etc) but there is no such thing as a gay gene and for many people it is a lifestyle choice, shaped by nature and nurture.

      ““Free will” is an illusion.However, morality does not depend on “free will”.

      – an interesting concept. If I am not free to choose how can I be morally culpable?

      “Children deserve to be protected from those would seek to abuse them just as much as adults deserve to be protected from those who would seek to kill them.”

      – Agree.

      1. I wonder if any university will publish it if they come up with the ‘wrong’ results? I doubt it because they would then have committed the blasphemy of homophobia!

        If there was a proven link between homosexuality and paedophilia, I’m sure that scientists would not hesitate to publish the results in order for us understand human behaviour better. Scientists study all kinds of taboos such as whether there is a link between race and intelligence. (For the record, there is no link between skin colour and intelligence – it’s all down to environment and culture.)

        God [dictates sexual morality].

        That’s funny, because in other moods God is fond of slavery, genocide and human sacrifice.

        And if God’s laws on sexual morality are eternal, then who is to say that his desired punishment (i.e. death by stoning) is not still extant?

        Do you believe that homosexuals should be stoned to death?

        If God disapproves of polygamists why did he create them in the first place?

        My point exactly.

        How do you know that God disapproves of abortion when a significant proportion of foetuses and fertilised embryos abort naturally without any human intervention?

        If God exists, he is the most prolific abortionist.

        There may well be genetic factors in homosexuality

        No, there are genetic factors involved in homosexuality.

        You have as much “free will” in determining your sexuality as you have in acquiring that now redundant biological relic of our evolutionary past called the appendix.

        for many people it is a lifestyle choice, shaped by nature and nurture.

        And where exactly is the freedom in determining these factors?

        As I said, if you think it as simple as “lifestyle choice” you should try changing your sexuality freely for a few weeks and see how easy it is.

        If I am not free to choose how can I be morally culpable?

        Morality does not depend on the existence of “free will”.

        There is still clearly a moral distinction between a paedophile who enjoys abusing children and a paediatrician who enjoys saving their lives regardless of whether they are ultimately responsible for their actions.

        While the non-existence of “free will” does not negate the need to incarcerate criminals in order to protect the rest of society from them, it does call into question the logic of retribution and revenge.

        MSP

      2. Manic – your faith in human nature is quite touching – and dangerous. Are you not aware of what happened to the Watson (of Watson and Crick) when he suggested a genetic component to the differences in intelligence between black and white? I have no doubt that any researcher who suggested that there was a link between homosexuality and paedophilia would lose his job – no matter the evidence. The rest of your post is a series of faith statements and accusations without evidence. You will forgive me if I don’t waste either my time or yours by replying!

  5. Our society is not interested in truth – they already have the meta-narrative and would not want inconvenient truths to get in the way!

    David

    You make the claim constantly in various guises that atheists, humanists and secularists are living in a fantasy world or doing a stand up comedy routine in expressing their philosophy.

    Let’s examine your core beliefs as a Christian, shall we?

    In the words of Sam Harris on one of any number of occasions he chastised the religious scientist Francis Collins:

    1. Jesus Christ, a carpenter by trade, was born of a virgin, ritually murdered as a scapegoat for the collective sins of his species, and then resurrected from death after an interval of three days.

    2. He promptly ascended, bodily, to “heaven”—where, for two millennia, he has eavesdropped upon (and, on occasion, even answered) the simultaneous prayers of billions of beleaguered human beings.

    3. Not content to maintain this numinous arrangement indefinitely, this invisible carpenter will one day return to earth to judge humanity for its sexual indiscretions and skeptical doubts, at which time he will grant immortality to anyone who has had the good fortune to be convinced, on mother’s knee, that this baffling litany of miracles is the most important series of truth-claims ever revealed about the cosmos.

    4. Every other member of our species, past and present, from Cleopatra to Einstein, no matter what his or her terrestrial accomplishments, will be consigned to a far less desirable fate, best left unspecified.

    5. In the meantime, God/Jesus may or may not intervene in our world, as He pleases, curing the occasional end-stage cancer (or not), answering an especially earnest prayer for guidance (or not), consoling the bereaved (or not), through His perfectly wise and loving agency.

    How many scientific laws would be violated by such a scheme? One is tempted to say “all of them.”

    And you accuse us of living in a fantasy world?

    The words “pot” and “kettle” spring to mind.

    MSP

    1. MSP – Sam ‘torturer’ Harris is not the person I would go to for either morality or theology. Needless to say his sarcastic attempt does not summarise my beliefs. But then its so much easier to argue against what people are not saying, rather than what they are. You will be pleased to hear that having dealt with Dawkins and Hitchens, I have now turned my hand to Harris – a book will hopefully be coming next year!

      1. David

        If you think that Sam Harris supports torture, you have not read his work properly, if at all, but have simply read his religious opponents’ attempted smears.

        Harris does not support torture. He simply argued in his first book, The End Of Faith, that the torturing of terrorist suspects to obtain information vital to saving innocent people’s lives using a “mild” form of torture such as water boarding might be ethically justified, whereas killing hundreds of people, knowingly if unintentionally through “collateral damage”, by bombing a military position is ethically abhorrent:

        In one section of the book (pp. 192−199), I briefly discuss the ethics of torture and collateral damage in times of war, arguing that collateral damage is worse than torture across the board. Rather than appreciate just how bad I think collateral damage is in ethical terms, some readers have mistakenly concluded that I take a cavalier attitude toward the practice of torture. I do not. Nevertheless, there are extreme circumstances in which I believe that practices like “water-boarding” may be not only ethically justifiable, but ethically necessary. This is not the same as saying that they should be legal (Crimes such as trespassing and theft may sometimes be ethically necessary, though everyone has an interest in keeping them illegal).

        Now that I have provided you with this link, I expect you to read the article properly and not to repeat that slur against Harris’ writings ever again.

        Sarcasm aside, if Harris has inaccurately summarised yours and Collins’ Christian beliefs, please state how they are inaccurate rather than simply asserting “That’s not MY God or MY religion that you are attacking!”

        If you are writing a book length response to Harris work and you want to persuade people who are not already converted to your point of view, you must try harder to reflect accurately what they actually say.

        Finally, your comments about Harris being ignorant about Christian theology presuppose there is something about Christianity theology to be ignorant about. As Harris puts it, “Theology is a special brand of ignorance. Indeed, it is ignorance with wings.”

        If that sounds strident and intolerant to you, I distinctly remember you writing in The Dawkins Letters, “I’m not going to believe that Mohammed is God’s messenger just because some religion tells me.” You dismissed this “great” religion which has 1.5 billion adherents throughout the World in a single sentence with no attempt to examine the evidence in support of Islam or engage with Islamic “scholars”.

        This is a bare dismissal of Islam for want of evidence in support of exactly the kind I would make about both Islam and your religious beliefs.

        MSP

  6. Hello. Two points briefly.
    1 Why not call it “child sex abuse”? The term perfectly sums up the most important aspects of the act.
    2 Why only priests? There is allegedly a similar scandal in US evangelical circles at the present time with Sovereign Grace Ministries and yet it is rarely mentioned anywhere.

  7. David

    You rely on faith statement unsupported by evidence all the time.

    It is a gross double standard if you deny others the same privilege.

    Besides, I have trust in certain elements of humanity, as opposed to faith.

    Yes, humans are capable of great altruism, love and compassion.

    But I also accept they are also capable of barbaric evil.

    That is to be expected if you work on the basis of that we are “higher apes”.

    But I think it poses a greater problem to your World view that we are “fallen angels made in the image of God”.

    How could God have made such a terrible mistake in his creation if he is a perfect being?

    What is he doing to rectify his mistake now?

    Apparently nothing, expect keeping his creations under his thumb with guilt in the knowledge that they will always be wrong and can never be right.

    Created sick. Ordered sound.

    As for the political correctness factor in James Watson’s views on race and intelligence, Sam Harris expands on this point in the article I linked to above:

    Watson’s opinions on race are disturbing, but his underlying point was not, in principle, unscientific. There may very well be detectable differences in intelligence between races. Given the genetic consequences of a population living in isolation for tens of thousands of years it would, in fact, be very surprising if there were no differences between racial or ethnic groups waiting to be discovered. I say this not to defend Watson’s fascination with race, or to suggest that such race-focused research might be worth doing. I am merely observing that there is, at least, a possible scientific basis for his views. While Watson’s statement was obnoxious, one cannot say that his views are utterly irrational or that, by merely giving voice to them, he has repudiated the scientific worldview and declared himself immune to its further discoveries. Such a distinction would have to be reserved for Watson’s successor at the Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins.

    Actually, David, the rest of my post contains reference to hard scientific research and evidence which is accessible to you if you were only bothered to look.

    But I wouldn’t expect you to pay much attention that, since you “don’t know and don’t care” enough to discover whether Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection is true to not.

    Why bother worrying about facts and evidence when you can just laugh off any objections to your Iron Age science and ethics with school yard retorts such as “Says who?”, “This is a stand up comedy routine!” and “You’re living in a fantasy world!”

    MSP

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