USA Today, in reporting about sexual abuse of young boys at Penn State University, takes the cheapest of shots at the Catholic Church in their featured story.
Here’s the headline:
Catholic bishops’ lesson for Penn State: Call the cops!
Mind you, this is a story that has NOTHING to do with the Catholic Church but they drag the Church into it for no apparent reason, other than it was an easy opportunity to Church bash.
Reporter Cathy Lynn Grossman even then includes the Church in the lede.
A trusted adult, respected by the community, offers special programs for vulnerable boys — then sexually abuses them. Word travels up to higher authorities but no one calls the police. They handle it within…
Sound familiar? It’s the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal rewritten on a university campus.
So far, you’ve got the Catholic Church indicted in the headline and in the lede of a news story that, once again, has nothing to do with the Catholic Church.
Catholic bishops’ lesson for Penn State: Call the cops!
It gets better. (Or worse.) The photo that runs with the story is described as
David Clohessy, head of a sex abuse survivors group, held a photo of a victim of abuse by a priest, Eric Patterson of Conway Springs, Kan., who killed himself. Clohessy addressed the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ meeting in Dallas in 2002 when bishops confronted the explosive national abuse scandal.
What? They couldn’t find any pictures of Penn State head coach Joe Paterno or assistant Jerry Sandusky?
So to sum up, the headline, the lede, and the photo all indict the Catholic Church in a story that had nothing to do with the Catholic Church.
This kind of thing is just plain ol’ Catholic bashing and furthers the media meme that sexual abuse is a Catholic problem.
As the Catholic League points out, you could only get the idea that sexual abuse is a Catholic problem if you believe the media.
One of the nation’s foremost authorities on the subject of the sexual abuse of minors in public schools is Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft. In 1994, Shakeshaft and Audrey Cohan did a study of 225 cases of educator sexual abuse in New York City. Their findings are astounding.
All of the accused admitted sexual abuse of a student, but none of the abusers was reported to the authorities, and only 1 percent lost their license to teach. Only 35 percent suffered negative consequences of any kind, and 39 percent chose to leave their school district, most with positive recommendations. Some were even given an early retirement package.
Moving molesting teachers from school district to school district is a common phenomenon. And in only 1 percent of the cases do superintendents notify the new school district. According to Diana Jean Schemo, the term “passing the trash” is the preferred jargon among educators.
Shakeshaft has also determined that 15 percent of all students have experienced some kind of sexual misconduct by a teacher between kindergarten and 12th grade; the behaviors range from touching to forced penetration.[xxxvi] She and Cohan also found that up to 5 percent of teachers sexually abuse children.
But I’m not waiting on that to be highlighted by the media. Why report facts when Catholic bashing is so much easier?
November 8, 2011 at 12:54 pm
"Many people will glance at this and believe that the Church WAS involved."
And finally someone has hit on it. That is precisely the point. Short attention span + big all-caps headline = thinking programmed thoughts.
November 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm
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November 8, 2011 at 3:35 pm
Leave the post. As I said, when family members try to deal with such betrayals, there's enormous pain.
November 8, 2011 at 3:49 pm
Good news is that at least two ESPN writers (Michael Weinreb of Grantland and "ESPN news services") who have covered this so far have not used the words "Catholic" or "Church" in their articles a single time.
November 8, 2011 at 6:13 pm
ProudHillbilly you should be proud, your answers are kind, thought provoking and spot on.
November 9, 2011 at 6:48 pm
It's not just USA Today. A very high percentage of coverage of the horrific Penn State situation (that I've read, anyway) has managed to include some mention of the Catholic Church (I live in PA). I know for a fact that one Pennsylvania sportswriter has already taken plenty of previous shots against the Church in previous columns. This is just another stick to beat against it.
There are certainly parallels to draw but it does make you wonder.
While there's no excuse for the behavior of the (minority of) bishops who are/were culpable in a coverup, the Penn State situation is espcially shocking because it involves witnesses who saw the crime firsthand, reported what they saw, and yet nothing was done about it, leaving the perpetrator to continue hurting kids. That's pretty staggering, and a bit different than a situation in which the facts have to be sorted out when an individual comes forward many years later to allege abuse.
Anyway, IronDonkey is right, the Church has taken dramatic steps to ensure the safety of children. I say that as someone who has had to sit through lengthy "Protecting God's Children" workshops and pass criminal background checks, etc. just to pass out straws as a lunchroom volunteer at my kids' Catholic school.
November 10, 2011 at 6:10 am
One of the blessings which has come out of the Catholic Church's recent scandal is that other organizations are also being cleansed. Sexual abuse of minors is a universal problem, and thank God, the Catholic Church's humiliation has led to a greater awareness of the magnanimity of this problem. I pray that more and more, we will be made aware of the woundedness so many people suffer because of sexual abuse, and that in every organization: church, school, student organization, sports program, and family, efforts will be made nd continue to be made to prevent this scourge on the human person, and to offer healing and hope.
November 10, 2011 at 6:14 am
Most coaches are good people
Most Boy and Girl Scout leaders are good people
Most school teachers are good people
Most rabbis, ministers, and priests are good people
Most psychologist, social workers, and counselors are good people
Most reporters are good people…
But there are people with evil urges who act upon them in all these groups.
May we be more and more aware of the preciousness and innocence of children and do all we can to protect them.
November 10, 2011 at 8:57 pm
The butthurt is strong in here.
November 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm
In today's paper that Pennsylvania Governor (and former state Attorney General) Corbett "as a Roman Catholic, he was struck early on in the Penn State investigation by the similarities between the university’s failure to report allegations of sexual abuse involving Mr. Sandusky and the church’s failure to report pedophile priests, according to several people who work with him."
So, I guess from your perspective Roman Catholic Corbett was just engaging in "Catholic bashing" when he shared that insight that informed his investigation with his professional colleagues in the PA State Attorney's Office ?