Most of this blog is about principles and nuanced theology; its subjects require some reasoned attention to determine the merits of the Protestant Church of Christ’s attack on Catholic theology. The subject of scandal, however, is not theological; nor does it require a persuasive, gentle tone to convince people of good will the Catholic Church is not the end-times monster; facts influence reasonable people. And so I will address people I more understand: those who accept objective facts and integrate those facts into their religion. And the acceptance of such facts are what separates Protestants from anti-Catholics; non-Catholic Christians from bigots.
Rudd’s fifth argument for the Catholic Church’s “flawed, incomplete, and destructive” understanding of Marriage is titled, “Sexual abuse scandals” [sic], and it is not theological; it is a bigoted rant. Although indicative of Restorationist Church of Christ polemics—and therefore worthy of some attention—it is clearly written from a desire to hurt and not teach. I will try to balance the amount of attention I wish to give the irrelevant subject of scandal in a Comparative Religion book about theology, with a need to provide a clearer view of the picture and some guidance for readers who are more interested in understanding Rudd’s and Fundamentalism’s dishonesty. Rudd continues:
V. Sexual abuse scandals [sic]
Most of the sexual abuse problems within the Catholic church [sic] could have been prevented if they had not adopted the false doctrine that church [sic] leaders cannot be married. Orthodox leaders have always been allowed to be married and the statistical facts speak for themselves: Sex [sic] abuse scandals are dramatically reduced when church [sic] leaders are permitted to marry.
Celibacy is a discipline, not a doctrine. If tomorrow the Catholic Church chooses to allow new priests to marry (which, she will not do; and current priests would still need to remain faithful to their vows), no doctrine would be violated. The discipline, as I have shown, began within the New Testament era and has become a universal trait within the universal Church. So, clearly, the first half of Rudd’s allegation is proved false, already; what he calls a “false doctrine” is not a “doctrine”, nor is the discipline “false[ly]” Christian because it is both explicitly and implicitly taught and supported within Sacred Scripture, which I proved.
But Fundamentalists, however, are often more zealous than fair, and any negative accusation against the Catholic Church, no matter how invalid or deceptive it might be, is fair game if it aids a Fundamentalist goal: the eradication of Catholic Christianity; the ends justify the means, so it seems. Both Protestant and secular realms are hostile to Catholicism. They are not only similar in their pursuit of “sexual satisfaction independent of the desire for children”, but are also nearly identical in how they attack the Catholic Church; nearly, but not perfectly, because portions of the world that have no dog in the proverbial fight between Catholicism and Protestantism know Rudd’s and Fundamentalism’s un-sourced “statistics” prove them wrong, which I will help you discover.
I entered the Catholic Church in 2008. I studied her theological claims for over a decade before I made the decision to migrate from Fundamentalism to the Church I became convinced Christ Jesus built. I did that while the media was highly focused on the Catholic Church’s sex scandals. My former Protestant personality hoped the media’s portrayal of the scandals were accurate, but my search for truth outweighed my theologically-inherited hope that the Catholic Church is always wrong. In short, I was not duped by what anti-Catholic zealots wanted me to believe, and I was not duped by what their allies in the media wanted me to believe. I, instead, found a Church that was gravely sorrowful for the sins that a relatively tiny number of people committed.
True, the Catholic Church, with her hundreds of thousands of priests, and with her easily targeted hierarchical structure, is a Church that is visible to every person. And yes, her sins are made more known than other institutions because of her worldwide reach, unity, and perceived deep pockets. She has had “scandal”, as Jesus promised His Church would. Do the sins of a few discredit the Catholic Church? Does Judas Iscariot discredit the Church? I judge a religion by those who practice it best, not by those who practice it worst. And, having been a Fundamentalist within a very Fundamentalist sect, and within congregations with rampant sexual sin, I know honest Fundamentalists would not want their religion judged by the acts of their worst adherents.
Comparatively, many Fundamentalists (like Rudd) unfortunately hope people do not think. Rudd, as he and Fundamentalists often enjoy, simply state an unintelligent anti-Catholic theory and know that people who have little discernment capabilities will accept it as true. In Rudd’s case, he stated that Orthodox priests are allowed to marry and have fewer (?) scandals. Fundamentalists attack the Catholic Church ad nauseum in this way. They often assume, with no thought at all, that celibacy is the cause of sexual scandal.
But remember, as already explained, Protestantism has built into its own theological structure a way to manage (Christianize) lust: Marriage. (I will address this very important nuance more deeply later.) Lust—sexual sin—is not eradicated; it is always present even within its Marriages, and Fundamentalism’s finger-pointing reveals its own shortcomings. Since sexual sin is always alive and [made] well within Fundamentalist Marriage, many of its adherents conclude that the Marriage construct is the only way a human can be fully human; sexual desires become Christianized, and since “eunuchs for the Kingdom” have no spousal outlet, lust—as Fundamentalists assert—is made manifest in the only way the Catholic model allows for its priests: perversion, homosexuality, scandal, sin.
Like Protestants, the world assumes sexual sin will be made manifest if “sexual satisfaction independent of the desire for children” is not readily available “on demand”; the media has created the impression that celibacy begets abuse. But, as I stated earlier, those who engage in that sort of rhetoric hope their audience will not think. After all, has a Fundamentalist ever preached from his pulpit how school teachers—who, as existing statistics actually prove, offend and cover more than the Church—would not abuse children if they were only allowed to marry?
But first, of course, I must acknowledge that any single sin is too many, and the Catholic Church is ashamed of every sin its members, either clerical or lay, commit. But her humility in acknowledging her sins—which, unless one searches for it will not find it among secular and Protestant attacks—is not without a responsible perspective of reality: statistically, her sexual abuse problems, as bad as they can only be, are the same as the world’s and Protestantism’s, if not better.
It is unfortunate that sin must be viewed as “better” or “worse” in one group or another, but that is the position Fundamentalism has created. No well-formed practicing Catholic looks forward as many Fundamentalists do for a chance to exploit another religion’s circumstances or behaviors. And just as unfortunate, I have already disproportionately addressed the subject of scandal, but I must give it some attention because it is a subject Fundamentalists normally bring up when they want to attack Catholicism’s understanding of Marriage and sex.
Rudd and Fundamentalism refer to “the [non-existing] statistics” to make their case. The “statistics” are normally mentioned in a manner Rudd perfectly illustrates. He wrote, “. . . the statistical facts speak for themselves.” Fundamentalists repeat that assertion to themselves and to the world. They believe it not because they can find a single study or source that supports their hope. They believe it not because they know people they trust have researched the subject. They believe it because it is helpful rhetoric—no matter how false it might be—that harms the Catholic Church. It is easier for Fundamentalists to simply imply celibacy causes sexual abuse and refer to “the statistics” than to actually cite any supporting statistics, because such “statistics” do not exist. If such “statistics” do exist, would Fundamentalists not make them available?
I will not use space in this book to present the mountain of statistics that actually do exist, but I will lead you to three sources that are readily available in hard copy and online—sources that a Fundamentalist could refer to if she were more interested in attacking the human condition and not Catholicism. The first of which is the “John Jay Study”, more properly called “The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002”. It was commissioned by the United States Catholic bishops, but the bishops did not conduct the study. It was conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004. The purpose of the study was to provide the bishops an understanding of the exact problem of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church in the United States. The study’s methodology is not seriously contested by even secularists or Protestants. The problem with the study, of course, is anti-Catholics will not read it, and if they are referred to it, they tend to ignore it. The study is two hundred and eighty-five pages long with eight hundred and seventy-six sourced notes and bibliographies.
The second source is an incredibly well-documented book by Dr. Philip Jenkins, professor of history and religious studies at Pennsylvania State University. It is called Pedophiles and Priests, and is two hundred and fourteen pages long with seven hundred and ten sourced notes. Jenkins’ work is important because he presents facts that the media (and Fundamentalists) mostly ignore; he demonstrates how sexual abuse is not a “Catholic” problem, but a human problem.
The third source is a book by David F. Pierre Jr. titled Double Standard. He is an expert on the media’s presentation of Catholic scandal and has been sourced on The Drudge Report and Fox News, is a contributor for newsbusters.com, and is the founder of themediareport.com. Pierre proves the absurdity of the media’s focus on the Catholic Church’s relatively few sexual abuse cases with the remainder of society’s. His work is important because the media’s unbalanced focus on the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals contribute to Fundamentalism’s band-wagon participation in attacking the Catholic Church. It is one hundred sixty pages long with two hundred and sixty-one sourced notes.
Together, these three sources alone provide an easily accessible body of statistics, six hundred and fifty-nine pages, and one thousands eight hundred and forty-seven sourced notes (with some overlap).
Data affords reasonable people the ability to discern truth. It reveals whether or not Catholicism’s preference for celibate priests are a cause for scandal—if “the statistics speak for themselves” in a way Fundamentalism shouts. As you review the data, ask yourself if it supports the media’s attack on the Catholic Church. As you review the data, ask yourself if Fundamentalism is fair in its presentation of the Catholic Church. Ask yourself if Rudd’s statement, “Sex abuse scandals are dramatically reduced when church leaders are permitted to marry” is true.