Saturday, March 13, 2010

Why paedophilic abuse?

(Took time off to post this while waiting for something)

BBC News covers a report three days ago Vatican forced to defend itself over abuse cases. Then there is another report of an ex-priest Bill Carney who used his video player to lure children to his place. Among Protestant churches, we have reports about pastors committing adultery the most while going through explicit discussion over homosexuality. Seldom there are paedophilic abuses reported among Protestant churches. May be there are many but so far not that many being reported.

Given that the Roman Catholic church is well known for paying large sum of money (USD$436 million in 2008 in United States alone) as compensation to abuse victims, it is possible that real victims and con opportunists to report against the church for monetary reason.

But the question remains, why paedophilic abuse is the most rampant among Roman Catholic priests who are ordained through their Sacrament of Holy Orders?

(The Roman Catholic believes that the ordained priest "by reason of the sacerdotal consecration which he has received, is truly made like to the high priest and possesses the authority to act in the power and place of the person of Christ himself..." - Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church #1548)

I can guess that since the priests are not allowed to get married, they have to unleash their sexual drive on the most vulnerable human group, namely children. That is of course I assumed that they are not paedophilic (in the sense that they have the tendency to have sex and derive satisfactory sexual pleasure from children). So they have sex with children not because they have paedophilic tendency but children are their only option (as they can't be seen patronizing prostitutes). These priests know that the chances of them being caught for paedophilic activities are lower than compared to other acts like paying for sex or utilizing pornography. So in this case, they are not dissimilar with male prisoners who have sex with the more vulnerable prison mates. These prisoners are not homosexuals but they use the body of the vulnerable person for sexual satisfaction. Perhaps there is a sub-category of some who are not content with pornography, so they venture into paedophilia.

I can also guess that probably there are social factors that somehow relates paedophiles to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic church. For example, paedophiles conditioned by their tendency (eg. do not feel attracted to adult women) and life-experience, tend to interpret their life-calling to be Roman Catholic celibate priests.

Please share your guesses on this question, 'Why paedophilic abuses, of all other sexual abuses, rampant in the Roman Catholic church?'


Jud said...

Dear Sze Zeng,

All claims must be substantiated by evidence. As to your statement "Seldom there are paedophilic abuses reported among Protestant churches", I believe the following two links provide well-research evidence disproving your claim.

I hope you will take some time to view those links - and educate yourself. I think the question at the end of your post should be rightly rephrased to "Why are paedophilic abuses rampant in the Christian community esp. amongst leaders?". This would make for better objective discussion.

Judson Lim

Sze Zeng said...

Dear Judson,

I sense there is certain sense of disdain in your comment and I am not sure why. Perhaps your perception of me have been colored by our previous correspondence where I have showed you that you have misread what I wrote.

The website you referred to recorded 838 Protestant cases from 70s to 2003. There are 10,667 cases involving Catholic priests reported from 1950s till 2002. (

And please take notice of what I wrote, "Seldom there are paedophilic abuses reported among Protestant churches. May be there are many but so far not that many being reported."

It is clear that I even entertained the possibility that there are many unreported cases among the Protestant, hence I really don't see how you would missed all of that and implicate me for being less objective.

If you already dislike my persona in the first place, then there is already a deep distrust between us, and in that case I don't see how we can correspond constructively. Perhaps you may want to consider hitch over to other websites that wouldn't have to trouble the blogger to keep clarifying each of his or her post to you to make obvious what is already plain.

Jud said...

Dear Sze Zeng,

Rest assured. I have nothing against you personally. After all, I am only a reader of your blog. In every disagreement, there is sure to a degree of tension. I hope that I have not allowed it to become disdain. If I have, please accept my apology.

A small extract from the links, below:

"The Associated Press reported recently that three insurance companies receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by Protestant clergy, challenging the assumption that clergy sexual abuse is an exclusively Catholic problem that does not take place in other churches.

That is a higher number than the annual average of 228 credible accusations brought against Catholic clerics. Despite headlines focusing on the priest paedophile problem in the Roman Catholic Church, most American churches being hit with child sexual-abuse allegations are Protestant. These are findings from national surveys by Christian Ministry Resources (CMR), a tax and legal-advice publisher serving more than 75,000 congregations and 1,000 denominational agencies nationwide."

My point simply was - it is not obvious and neither plain that the Catholics are the main perpetrators of paedophilia. In fact research reveals that abuse occurs amongst the protestant at a much more 'embarrassing rate'.

I believe that the Vatican's visibility is a cause for their clergy's abuses being much more highlighted. The Vatican is a single central entity, whilst protestant communities are divided into thousands of individual local churches. I believe that it is much easier to hide in the latter circumstance. News, may be confined to the region - an there may be little international interest in a scandal that involves a local church. However, as to the Vatican, interest is widespread across the globe. Hence, the stronger highlight on its misgivings.

I would prefer not to argue that the media is bias. That would be hard to prove in a blogging context, but I suggest that that possibility remains.

My suggestion was, that for more objective discussion - the question should have been properly phrased 'why paedophilia is prevalent amongst Christians?' - not confined to Catholicism itself.

The Catholic Guy said...

i Sze Zeng,

I'm not sure whether you know much about the Catholic faith, but I would like to know, why did you quote CCC1548 for? Did you intend to show that from CCC 1548, catholics believe that the priest becomes in persona christi, hence having priest getting involved in padeophilic abuses is scandalous?

Well yes, WE catholics do believe that (priests as inpersona christ), but we believe the priest acts in persona christi only when it comes to administrating the sacraments (Eg : Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Confesssion, Marriage and annointing of the sick). No matter how terrible a priest personal life can be, the Sacrament of Holy orders is still valid for him.

Likewise, WE catholics have had terrible popes in the past. Yet when it came to the teachings of Faith and Morals, these popes, through the guidance and protection of the Holy Spirit, taught without error.

Priests are sinners, just like anyone else (Romans 3:23), and like anyone else, they too are in need of a Savior. That will probably help answer your question on why there are such cases in the Church. But just because of their fallen nature, it does not mean their sacrament is no longer valid. Priests also go for confession. Even the pope has a confessor for that matter!

I am unsure of the message you are intending to portray in that post, but if you are questioning how can Catholic priests do such a malicious act when they have been ordained through the holy sacraments, I hope my answers above help clear the air

p/s - I just found this statement to be abit strange coming from a theological student:

These priests know that the chances of them being caught for paedophilic activities are lower than compared to other acts like paying for sex or utilizing pornography

Are you being serious when u actually say that??

Benjamin said...

Dear Sze Zeng

There are a few layers to your post, and my view is that Judson is merely peeling one of them.
There is no doubt that you did qualify that the acts at Protestant Churches are seldom reported, and that it could well be that not many are being reported.
At this layer, Judson is proving that there are abuses and Catholic Church is not alone.

btw another article:

In spite of your qualifying remark, you went on still posit that paedophilic abuse is

(1) rampant in the Catholic Church;
(2) linked to the requirement of celibacy of the priesthood

While such an argument is attractive, and could well be a a subject of a casual argument over a coffee, for a person of your intellect, one would have expected a more respectable and robust discourse.

You finally concluded your post by asking your readers to comment on reasons for the paedophilic rampage in the Catholic church.

Now if one could prove that paedophilic abuses are
1) as rampant in the Protestant community as the Catholic church
2) on a percentage basis even more rampant in the Protestant community
3) the Catholic church is just such a big and easy target
then it would make your final prompting superfluous and pointless.

That is what Jud is trying to do, I think.

That said, all I am saying is argumentative in nature, and I do not profess to defend the Catholic Church or her priests. Paedophilic abuses are outrageous and sinful. Period.

God bless

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Judson,

Apology accepted. Concerning the 260 allegations among Protestant churches each year, do you know how many of these are convicted cases? How much had any of those insurers paid so far, so that we can estimate the confirmed cases?

In my post, I allowed the possibility that there are con opportunists made fake reports against the Roman Catholic church for monetary gain. Do you allow that with the allegations among the Protestants? If you do, then that only means there are non-confirmed cases reported among Protestants.

On the other hand we have the figure that the Roman Catholic church paid $436m in 2008 as compensation. In 2007, it is estimated that each victim received $1.3m since the church paid $660m to 500 victims. That means we can based on this number to estimate that in 2008, the Roman Catholic church compensated about 335 victims. And the Roman Catholic church wouldn't pay that amount unless she knows well that this will help to cover up its secrecy which is what we now find in Ireland and Germany.

The convicted cases from documented 838 incidents stretching from 1969 to 2003, a span of 34 years. That makes up an average of 24 confirmed paedophilia cases a year among Protestant.

So it boils down to how many convicted cases are really there among Protestants.

You may go on, to continue, with your belief that the Vatican's visibility is the cause that put them in the limelight. As for me, I follow the evidences such as one produced in Ireland last year that the political stature and the financial affluence of the Roman Catholic church enabled the church to institutionally cover up their crimes.

And you may also feel free to continue to take issue with the 260 allegations among the Protestants to believe that the Vatican is not dissimilar with Protestant churches, while I discern according to the evidences of confirmed cases where compensation has already be given out.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi The Catholic Guy,

Thank you for your comment and questions.

CCC1548 was pasted on the post to show what kind of authority is recognized through Roman Catholic's ordination. I thought that was rather apparent.

Yes, I know that no matter how ridiculous Roman Catholic theology seems to be, the church as a whole, particular their ardent defenders, will still bind themselves to it. There are of course some lay Roman Catholics (who are of course being brushed off as uninformed or sub-Roman-Catholics) who are skeptical over such ludicrous teaching. One such as Eva Wankerl put it well, "If you get divorced and remarry you can’t take communion, but someone convicted of molesting children can celebrate Mass for the rest of his life." Yet obviously, Catholics are still free to bind themselves according to their CCC.

So don't get me wrong. I totally agree with you that Catholic priests and popes are all still in the need of a saviour. Hence I was not trying to ridicule Catholic priests for their acrimonious deeds, but the Roman Catholic's incongruous teaching about them.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Benjamin,

Thank you for your comment. Do I know you in real life? Which Benjamin are you because I know a few?

I make no apology to your disappointed expectation of respectful and robust discourse as I don't see my argument is anything less than that.

My observation of the prevalent paedophilia cases among Catholic clergy is based on the widely reported cases where compensation has already been discharged. 500 compensated victims in 2007 and 335 in 2008 in USA alone. Now we have reports from Ireland and Germany. Based on these reports, it is rampant.

May be in the future, there will be more report over Protestant churches, but my view is confined according to the evidences that we currently have, and make guesses of the cause of such atrocity among the Roman Catholic churches.

reasonable said...

An imperfect observation of comments - possibilities, plausibilities and probabilities.

Thousands of possibilities, hundreds of plausibilities, and a very small handful of probabilities.

Awareness of possibilities delivers us from blindness and enables us to avoid falling into a hole, while awareness of probabilities delivers us from paralysis and enables us to move forward wisely.

In the name of rationality and consistency, Amen. :)

reasonable said...

Anyone knows of any studies of the degree of paedophilic abuse among monastic communities of the mainstream Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism? (I am ignoring some non-typical sects such as certain Japanese Buddhist sects where the monks are not required to be celibate)

If such cases among the celibate Buddhist monastic communities are rare (of course it may a situation of many many cases being unreported/undetected but let us base on known data first while ignoring speculative possibilities) we may be able to make some tentative guesses about the Roman Catholic situation.

reasonable said...

What is important is not only the estimated degree of paedophilic abuses among different Christian groups, but also this:

- the estimated level of effort the respective INSTITUTIONAL Churches put in to hide the information regarding such abuses.

So, in this comment section, some of us, while talking about the number of abuses, should also not forget to look at the estimated number of cases where the respective INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH attempted to cover up such abuses or attempted to gag the victims' mouths with cash or other means.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi reasonable,

Thank you for your comments.

I dont have the data on other religion's monastic cases.

Yes, we should not ignore the INSTITUTIONAL cover-ups done by the Roman Catholic church. Ironically this is the same institution that claims itself to be the true institutional community of Christ known as the Church. Institutionally covering up those evil deeds done on children by the institution's so-called gatekeepers. Irony.

clement said...

Sigh Sze Heng,

Jud and Benjamin have been trying to point out what they see as a troublesome attitude toward the Catholic Church in your post, and The Catholic Guy trying to do that too.

I seriously hope that this attitude is not something you learned from Bible College, because it is a very Un-Christian attitude. As a fellow-Catholic (like the Catholic Guy), I feel incensed that a Protestant is taking another cheap shot against the Catholic Church.


(1) The large sums of money are partly because of media hype. As an American blogger observed ironically: If your daughter gets raped on the street, you need to beg to get $20k compensation; if your son is raped by a priest, instant $500k compensation, no strings attached.

(2) Not only would I question "most rampant" (like Jud does) I would question even "rampant". In my opinion, "rampant" is another piece of Western media sensationalism. There are 1 billion Catholics in the world; to have a "rampant" scale of abuse you would need at least 500000 (in the strictest of counts) people involved in the scandal. So far, the numbers do not add up that significantly.

(3) If you don't understand Catholic Theology, please don't pretend that you do. It is highly insulting to see you misrepresenting the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

(4) Same goes for your un-needed speculation on priests' character. It is getting kind of tiring to tell people that celibacy has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING WHATSOEVER IN HEAVEN OR IN HELL to do with paedophilia or paedophillic tendencies, and this "link" is merely another cheap shot against the Church.

(5) The way you demean people's decision to enter the priesthood is really extremely discriminatory and typical Protestant anti-Catholic sentiment.

Really Sze Heng, I am kind of stunned that you would publish such anti-Catholic vitriol in the first place. Your other posts (discussing theology or homosexuality or otherwise) are of a far more tempered character, and show intellect, whereas the last two posts merely show lingering anti-Catholic prejudice among protestants.

Sze Zeng said...

Hi Clement,

Thank you for your comment. It's "Sze Zeng", not "Heng" :)

I have addressed Jud's, Benjamin's, and Catholic Guy's points in my reply.

There is big difference between 'Bible College' and 'Theological College'. Whether is something Chrisitan or un-Christian is subjected to individual's perception of Christian. To some, the Catholic's denial of other church as 'church' is un-Christian.

(1) Shall we then applaud the Catholic church for being generous in compensating victims of their priest then? Are you implying this by pointing to the American blogger's observation.

(2) Rampant here is used in the context in the relation not with the overall population of followers but in the seriousness of the crime. It is rampant because Catholic church supposed to not having this AT ALL.

(3) Which part of Catholic Theology's on Holy Orders that I don't think? Furthermore, does one's understanding peg with one's agreement with the subjecT?

(4) I am not linking it with celibacy strictly. I qualify my post on that with qualification.

(5) You are free to interpret my post as an attempt to demean, just as others interpret my other posts are demeaning. If anything every post agree and disagree with certain parties. Nothing can please everyone.

I'm being called many different sort of "anti", but well, I am sure that you know that expressing one's disagreement is not being "anti" with a militant tone.