A couple of days ago I wrote a post concerning a recent Vatican response to criticism over the sexual abuse scandals. Dan Collins, from Piece of Work in Progress (POWIP), a blog I like and read, came by and provided a couple of links pointing out that sexual abuse of children is also a problem with rabbis, and in the public school system. Today on POWIP there is a post called, "Those Damn Catholics and Their Pedophile Priests!" which makes essentially the same point -- that sexual abuse of children isn't exactly confined to the Catholic Church.
as it turns out, at least statistically-speaking, the numbers of abuse cases reported among the Protestant churches in the US are — wait for it — actually higherThe basic argument is that the Catholic Church is being unfairly singled out. I find this type of defense extremely weak and based on false analogies.
Protestant churches, Jewish rabbis, and the public school system are not comparable organizations to the Catholic Church. There are numerous Protestant churches, most of which are independent entities, as are synagogues. The U.S. public school system is divided among 50 states, each with their own separate authorities. In contrast, the Catholic Church is a hierarchical organization. The Pope and the rest of the Vatican leadership claim authority over the entire priesthood. The Pope rules on doctrine, and on the fundamental practices of the church. He's the Vicar of Christ on Earth, the ultimate authority. The church may be a huge organization, with many local branches throughout the world, but it is still one Catholic Church, and there is only one pope, one Vatican, and one center of authority.
There is no one who can set procedures for how Protestant churches respond to sexual abuse. It depends on what church you are talking about. There is no one who decides how individual rabbis are disciplined for abuse. The state authorities here in New Jersey have no control over measures taken against public school sex abuse problems in neighboring Pennsylvania. The reason the Catholic Church can be singled out for criticism, is precisely because it is a single organization with a clear chain of command. And the evidence suggests that the Catholic chain of command has failed miserably on this issue.
Suppose there was a giant multinational corporation called X Industries. Despite its size it is family-owned, and the CEO has near dictatorial powers over company operations. His word is law for X Industries. X Industries is involved in a huge scandal in which company managers are embezzling funds from customers. Not only does X not fire the offenders, it conceals their actions from legal authorities and simply transfers them to new positions, where some re-offend. This goes on for decades. When the scandal finally breaks, X Industries defenders claim that criticism of the company and its CEO are based on smears, and bias against X Industries. After all, they point out, other people embezzle money all the time. Rates of embezzlement are even higher in some economic areas. Is anyone buying this argument? I'm not.