1975-01-15

On this date The Vatican released its “Declaration on Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics” which includes a definition of homosexuality as “a serious depravity.”

And speaking of depravity…cases of child sexual abuse by Catholic priests and nuns and members of religious orders, and subsequent cover-ups, in the 20th and 21st centuries have led to numerous allegations, investigations, trials and convictions. The abused include boys and girls, some as young as 3-years old, with the majority between the ages of eleven and fourteen. 

The accusations began to receive isolated, sporadic publicity in the late 1980s. Many of these involved cases in which a figure was accused of abuse for decades; such allegations were frequently made by adults or older youths years after the abuse occurred. Cases have also been brought against members of the Catholic hierarchy who covered up sex abuse allegations and moved abusive priests to other parishes where abuse continued.

By the 1990s, the cases began to receive significant media and public attention in some countries, especially in Ireland, Canada, Australia and the United States and were widespread by the 2000s. Members of the Church’s hierarchy have argued that media coverage was excessive and disproportionate, and they have also argued that such abuse also takes place in other religions and institutions (also known as the “everyone is doing it” argument). 

A series of television documentaries in the 1990s, such as “Suffer the Children” (UTV, 1994), brought the issue to national attention in Ireland. A critical investigation by The Boston Globe in 2002 led to widespread media coverage of the issue in the United States, which was later dramatized in Tom McCarthy’s’s award-winning film Spotlight in 2015. By 2010, much of the reporting focused on abuse in Europe and Australia.

From 2001 to 2010 the Holy See, the central governing body of the Catholic Church, considered sex abuse allegations involving about 3,000 priests dating back fifty years. Cases reflect worldwide patterns of long-term abuse as well as the church hierarchy’s pattern of regularly covering up reports of alleged abuse.[note 1] Diocesan officials and academics knowledgeable about the Roman Catholic Church say that sexual abuse by clergy is generally not discussed, and thus is difficult to measure.

Some studies claim that priests in the Catholic Church may not be any more likely than other men to commit abuse. In addition, the studies claim that the rate of abuse by priests had fallen sharply in the last twenty to thirty years, and that some 75% of the allegations in the United States were of abuse between 1960 and 1984. 

However, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found that the average time it took between a victim of Catholic sexual abuse being abused and reporting it, or seeking redress, is 33 years. For this reason there is insufficient data to be able to accurately ascertain current rates of child sex abuse, or to claim that abuse in the Catholic Church has fallen in recent decades. The Commission revealed 7% of Australian priests between 1950–2009 were accused of abusing children, and that one Catholic order had 40.4% of their non-ordained members with allegations against them in this period

So…one is forced to ask: what moral authority does the Roman Catholic Church have that makes them think we give a rat’s ass what they think of us?