Insight from George Weigel

Noted author George Weigel wrote an insightful piece in First Things about the current reporting on the sexual abuse situations.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

The sexual and physical abuse of children and young people is a global plague; its manifestations run the gamut from fondling by teachers to rape by uncles to kidnapping-and-sex-trafficking. In the United States alone, there are reportedly some 39 million victims of childhood sexual abuse. Forty to sixty percent were abused by family members, including stepfathers and live-in boyfriends of a child’s mother—thus suggesting that abused children are the principal victims of the sexual revolution, the breakdown of marriage, and the hook-up culture. Hofstra University professor Charol Shakeshaft reports that 6-10 percent of public school students have been molested in recent years—some 290,000 between 1991 and 2000. According to other recent studies, 2 percent of sex abuse offenders were Catholic priests—a phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared (six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops’ annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members).

You can read the whole story here.

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4 Responses to “Insight from George Weigel”

  1. James Gardner says:

    Dear Archbishop Dolan,

    Thank you for your sustained defense of the church and Pope Benedict XVI. Keep it up!

  2. Osvaldo Vallone says:

    So true! The problem is in humankind itself and in this dehumanizing process we are all bearing witness to due to our turning our backs on Our Lord. God bless you Arch.Dolan!

  3. Your Excellency, I wish you a joyous Pascal season. Like you, I am a former Milwaukeean and know a number of fine priests from your former diocese. The Church has been ruptured by this scandal and it should be clear that initially, the Church did nothing to curtail the phenomenon except play a shell game of shifting and reassigning. It was only after this horror was brought out in the open by the victims and their advocates that the Church took action, and at first, feeble action at that. It was more concerned with its position and standing and investments than with the innocents whom some of its clergy exploited. The appalling current situation with Archbishop Cardinal Law of Boston, now a fugitive, is a case in point. These offenders are not merely sinners but criminals, and for decades the Church hid them. That other civil agencies might have been as silent is a mute point. They do not carry the moral authority expected of the Church and its shepherds. Though not neccesarily connected to this issue, it is time for the Church to face the question of celibacy. Celibacy should be chosen and not imposed. To say that it makes for more effective pastors is nonsense, as testified by married Anglican priests, Orthodox and Eastern rite parish clergy. If the Church listened to the commanding voice of God, rather than consume itself with defending the ramparts and insisting on its usual authoritarian deadlock, healing might be able to occur, but right now the Church as an institution has lost all credibility. The damage in Ireland is immense and you have alienated an entire generation of Catholic youth in that country. You, and not the press or the media or enemies of the Church but you , the leaders to whom millions of Catholics looked for guidance and trust. Too little, too late, and I can only pray that this stain against the Church will result in a reawakened laity who will demand the ordination of woman and a married parish clergy, and to a Church that knows how to listen intnently and lovingly to their faithful, rather than pontificate.
    Yaakov Sullivan
    Newburgh, NY

  4. Todd says:

    Count me as less impressed with Mr Weigel’s article.

    While I appreciate a tenacious defense of a friend or a valued principle, I’m afraid the man misses the point. The hierarchy’s scandal isn’t primarily about the heinous sins of sex predators. It’s about their own complicity in serial abuse by covering up and sheltering sinners in the clergy and in the ranks of bishops themselves. They have borne false witness against their brother priests, pronouncing them fit for ministry, when in fact they were not.

    And while it is true that tens of millions of children are abused worldwide by non-clerics, no other organization possesses a God-given role as inheritors of the apostolic tradition founded by the Lord Jesus himself. We expect higher morals from bishops. Perhaps that is unfair, but it is likely just as strong outside of the Church among Catholic sympathizers as it is among us members.

    After reading this essay, I’m not convinced Mr Weigel gets it. And while his defense may make some clergy and laity feel good, this isn’t about the warm fuzzies of positive reinforcement. This is about reforming and healing the damage self-inflicted by the episcopacy.

    We need to see heartfelt, authentic, and believable contrition on the part of bishops. Attacking those who criticize, even the ones we are sure are unfair, contributes to the perception of arrogance. And if we feel the media are uninformed about details, there’s nothing to fear by requesting officials in question be interviewed. Is there?