Do You Trust the Catholic Church With Your Children?

When news of Pope Benedict’s resignation was released, the first thought that came to many minds was that it must be related to a child sexual abuse scandal. Are children safe within the Catholic Church - Sandy Springs and North Fulton included?


Today is Pope Benedict XVI's final day as the leader of Catholics around the world. Stories swirling around his resignation prompts many questions. The most pressing one: Are children safe within the Catholic Church - Sandy Springs and North Fulton included?

Last week, during a "CBS This Morning" town hall segment on the state of the Catholic Church, a mother said, “At this point, if I had to leave my child with a priest for him to watch him for the day, that would not happen.”

In full disclosure, I am Catholic. But as much as I love the holiness of the Catholic experience I have never been fully in step with the rules.

When news broke of Pope Benedict’s resignation, the first thought that came to my mind, and many others, was that it must be related to a child sexual abuse scandal. 

Not everyone agreed. A Sandy Springs Patch Facebook friend wrote: "...It must have been an incredibly difficult decision that he wrestled with over much prayer and advice.”

I had recently seen the HBO Documentary, “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God.” It thoughtfully and painfully details decades-long sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, starting in the 1960s with the sexual abuse of hundreds of boys at St. John’s School for the Death, in Milwaukee.

The film reported that $80 million was spent on rehabilitating and re-circulating 2000 priests between the 1950s and 1990s in Italy, France, Great Britain, South America and the Philippines.

When Pope Benedict was Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, he led a Vatican office for 25 years that dealt with the most severe cases of sexual abuse by priests, the film noted. In 2001, he put forth an order that every child sexual abuse case, worldwide, be sent directly to him.

On Monday, the Pope accepted the resignation of a Britain senior cardinal amid reports of a sex and blackmail scandal. It seemed bizarre to hear Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the New York Archbishop so casually say on the "Good Morning America" program, “We get tons of rumors; and all these whispers, most of them are not true.”

In these years after the height of the sexual abuse scandals of the Catholic Church, it feels like the church may finally be reaching a tipping point and must acknowledge in a larger way the hypocrisy of celibacy, and separately that the church has been a go to place for many pedophiles guised as priests. Or is that acknowledgment a naïve, wishful thought? 

In any case, doubts remain in some parents' minds on how safe children are in the church, not just the mother mentioned above. When CBS analyst Frank Luntz, asked the entire town hall group, ”Who in this room would be uncomfortable leaving their child alone with a priest?” Several in the group raised their hand.

“The Catholic religion has to regain the trust of its followers,” a man said.

What do you think? Tell us in the comments.

Joseph February 28, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Here is a list of 174 accused Minnesota clerics - [updated] --- http://mnsnap.wordpress.com/villainous-mn-clerics/ --- Added: --- Fr. Martin A. Brady, TOR (Franciscan friar); Little Falls, MN --- Minnesota Child Victims Act: http://mnchildvictimsact.wordpress.com/
Pastor BillyBob JoMama February 28, 2013 at 02:51 PM
I trust The Church with my soul. I trust it with my sons. These scurrilous accusations bear false witness to the majesty and sanctity of Holy Mother the Church. They are the work of Beelzebub incarnate as foretold in Scripture. Believe not these lies, the perjurers who spread them, the prosecutors who climb to fame on upon their salacious scaffold. The collar shall not be besmirched. Nor shall be the consecrated hand that transmutes mere bread to the body of The Risen Christ. God knows all; He knows the heart; He knows the deed. He knows the Sacrament that uplifts the man to His Holy Order. It is indisputable that God's earthly vicar to this humble planet, were he to defame himself, would by doing so to defame God Himself. That cannot be. That can never be. Throughout the ages, men of evil purpose have sought to discredit The One True Holy and Apostolic Church. Throughout the ages, these calumnies have been shown each time to be the work of Evil upon The Work of God. One cannot read the motive but to see the jealousy of False Faiths in the lie. Trust the priest. Trust the bishop. Trust the cardinal, and Holy Father himself to ever hold you in an embrace of benediction and salvation.
April Weiner February 28, 2013 at 03:48 PM
I have thought for years now that the Catholic Church has been a haven for pedophiles. Not that Priests are pedophiles, but that some pedophiles become Priests and as you state, they have the perfect cover. No one questions them about not being married and they have access to lots of children. The comment above speaks to the deep spirituality of a good Catholic but please do not turn your back on the incredible mind God gave you to discern and the responsibility he gave you to protect your children.
alexavalle123 February 28, 2013 at 05:16 PM
It is outrageous to hear about rumors about a gay priest or pope, let's not forget the so many cases of boys abused by priests, and the sexual abuse was also on girls for example Rita Milla who was raped by 7 priest and became pregnant from one of those priest http://dailyentertainmentnews.com/scandals/rita-milla-is-catholic-church-abuse-accuser/
Tracey Barnes Manley February 28, 2013 at 11:07 PM
Are you kidding me??? The Pope resigns due to failing health - a decision I'm sure he prayed over for many months - and what's the first thing people say is that it has to do with the sex abuse scandal uncovered so many years ago. PLEASE! Yes, I would trust my children with the good people who teach at the Catholic Schools and be educated by the Catholic Church. I went to 12 years of Catholic School and taught in Public School for 13 years. I would MUCH rather send my children to the more protected environment that the Catholic school offers. The religion is a beautiful one which instills many wonderful attributes in our children that they will need to draw on the rest of their lives. Many of these attributes that CANNOT be taught in Pubic Schools due to our ever increasing loss of Free Speech. Yes, there have been some priest who did terrible things to innocent children. However, most of the people who teach at Catholic Schools are good people, who are there because they believed they are called, not because of some great paycheck, or to abuse children. In comparison to Public School, I would still trust the experience of Catholic school over the exposure of Pubic school and what it has to offer young children.
ABaker March 01, 2013 at 03:23 AM
Do you trust the Fulton County School system, or The Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts of America, or Penn State, or a Sandy Spings playground , etc etc with your children? Bad people and poor behavior are everywhere. In fact, sin is everywhere. If you have spent any time with with older people, they get tired and sick and achy and live now longer than ever. The Papacy deserves respect from all peoples and His Holiness will continue to serve all of us while in prayer and meditation. Count yourself as blessed that even as a a semi Catholic someone will be praying for you and the rest of us. The truth will set you free. Hope to see you on any given Sunday ....
Kathy Powell March 01, 2013 at 01:18 PM
On a local and practical level, I trust the Archdiocese of Atlanta Priests and personnel. Their Office of Child & Youth Protection and their Safe Environment practices are active and apparent throughout the Archdiocese.
Lizzie Farley March 01, 2013 at 02:18 PM
Sexual abuse rates in America are very high in general (as many as 25% of all women have been sexually abused, for instance), and the general population is mostly unaware of this statistic. It is an epidemic that plagues every institution in America. According to an article published in 2010 (http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/04/07/mean-men.html), 4% of priests sexually abused children between the years 1950 and 1992, while 10-20% of men in the general population sexually abuse children. The Catholic Church therefore has a lower rate of pedophiles than society at large. It is unfounded to claim that the priesthood is a haven for pedophiles, and there's no reason to fear leaving your children with a priest more than any other American male.
Adrianne Murchison (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 03:46 PM
Thanks for your comment Lizzie. I could trust a priest and church that I've come to know in the same way that I trust close neighbors and friends that I've come to know over time and experience, with children. However many pedophiles have been in the priesthood, one is one too many. And to learn that $80 million was spent on "rehabilitating" them through the 1990s tells me there's been far far more than one. In my mind, there is reason to be discerning in leaving your children with a priest or any man, or individual.
jMichael March 01, 2013 at 03:47 PM
With all due respect, Lizzie, your comment is misleading. You cite data that 4% of priests sexually abused children between 1950-1992, as compared with a 10-20% rate within the general population. However: You fail to mention that: a) the data derives from a study authorized and paid for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops; and b) the study was limited to “plausible accusations” (where the definition of "plausible is left to the judgment of the the Catholic Clergy. Of even greater concern, the data is based upon “self-reports” by Roman Catholic parishes. Leaving reports of Salmonella to the integrity of peanut processors is lethal. I suggest that leaving reports of boy-diddling to the integrity of Catholic hierarchy and clergy is suspect as well.
Tracey Barnes Manley March 01, 2013 at 04:43 PM
The editor appears to be bias...??? Bad experience with the Catholic Church? Lizzie is completely right. There is a greater chance they would be endangered at public school, the mall or even the park, than at the Catholic school in which they hardly ever come into contact with a priest. The priest assigned to the school visits the classrooms occasionally. Adrianne, it appears you are just trying to promote fear and mistrust where this isn't any.
jMichael March 01, 2013 at 04:56 PM
@Tracey Barnes Manley "There is a greater chance they would be endangered at public school, the mall or even the park, than at the Catholic school in which they hardly ever come into contact with a priest. " Please cite the data which supports this assertion. We'll wait.
Adrianne Murchison (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 05:00 PM
Tracey, I'm biased for the protection of children, yes. I'm a lifelong Catholic who recognizes the church's flaws. The offending priests' crimes are completely separate from my holy experience of the church. The issues I raise are being discussed all over the media. I suggest reading, "How next pope must tackle sex abuse" on CNN.com. http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/27/opinion/anderson-next-pope-avoid-abuse/index.html?hpt=op_t1
Tracey Barnes Manley March 01, 2013 at 05:58 PM
For those of you who must hide behind statics - which tend to be skewed by the organizations supplying them, the information is available on a little thing called The Internet, in the daily news and the library - go for it. However, the rest of us know that there are far more reports of pedophiles in parks, malls and even on the internet than at the Catholic Church. I live in this society, I hear the reports, just like you, of the great concerns public concerns of our children using the internet, being approached by strangers at parks, etc. I'm not worried about sending my kids for church.
Kathy Powell March 01, 2013 at 06:01 PM
This video, also from CNN, addresses Priests, celibacy & sex abuse. http://www.cnn.com/video/data/3.0/video/bestoftv/2013/02/27/exp-around-the-world-priests-celibacy.cnn/index.xml
Lizzie Farley March 01, 2013 at 06:01 PM
JamesMichael, Your point must be considered, and statistics should always be scrutinized, and so I appreciate your pointing this out. This is currently the only statistical information that we have, but rather than throw it out, it seems it would be wiser to see if there's anything to it. Perhaps independent studies should be conducted, but they should not exclude all other institutions - there's no reason to only look at the Catholic Church when pedophilia is such a widespread problem. There is a plethora of evidence to suggest that this is a plague on society: http://www.oneinfourusa.org/statistics.php, https://www.childwelfare.gov/can/statistics/stat_sexAbuse.cfm, http://www.rainn.org/statistics, http://www.childhelp.org/pages/statistics, http://www.stopitnow.org/child_sexual_abuse_fact_sheet. Focusing on one institution (the Catholic church) does not fix the underlying problem. The Church is very easy to target because it is so large, but the problem (which must be addressed in an effective way) is larger than even the Church.
jMichael March 01, 2013 at 06:31 PM
@Tracy... You should be ashamed of yourself. In the first place, you fail to understand the nature of Science, and the role that statistics (not "statics") plays in science. Secondly, an appeal to "the little thing called the internet" as an alternative to scientific research is the mark of a frightenly lazy thinker. Third. "What the rest of us know" is no test whatsoever of scientifically established fact. Those of us who value the validity of assertion prefer facts. If you are to become a responsible citizen... Indeed, if you are merely to contribute to a public forum... You'd do well to adopt that standard.
Adrianne Murchison (Editor) March 01, 2013 at 06:45 PM
Hi Kathy, Can you re-post that link. I couldn't open it. Thanks so much.
Tracey Barnes Manley March 01, 2013 at 06:46 PM
Wow...I guess JamesMichael told me...LOL! "...if I am to become a responsible citizen..." lecturing me...oh c'mon. Thanks for the amusement. I stand by my opinion - The Catholic Church IS an honorable organization that, for the exception of a few bad MEN, is a GREAT place for our children to learn and grow. I'll pray for you this Sunday. God Bless.
jMichael March 01, 2013 at 07:33 PM
@Lizzie Farley You make a thoughtful comment. I would point out, however, that fatally flawed research is not to be accorded special dignity merely because it is the only research available. Nearly any instance of scientific research can be challenged. Indeed, it is the very hallmark of scientific research to invite challenge, to encourage challenge, to celebrate challenge as a renewed commitment to “get it right”. But a fatal flaw is just that. The study must be discounted. Beyond this, your point is well-made, and I appreciate it. Sadly, scrutiny of organizations seems to be an afterthought, triggered only after the sordid depredations of an organization have been exposed (The Boy Scouts, and Penn State come most immediately to mind). Scrutiny, in other words, has been less a preventative than a palliative. If Roman Catholicism has become the poster boy for diddling, it is not just because it is large, but because the betrayal… the Betrayal! … is so primal; so deep; so utterly perverse. Still; you are correct. The problem must be addressed generally. The opprobrium should not fall upon Roman Catholicism alone. Parental vigilance –constant parental vigilance- is an essential in all this. No longer shall the posture be one be an apathetic “Trust”, whether it be trust in a priest, a scout leader, or a team coach. Rather, it must be a commitment, a Sacred Commitment, to “constant vigilance”. Thanks for your thoughtful comment.
Kathy Powell March 01, 2013 at 08:48 PM
Trying again! http://www.cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2013/02/27/exp-around-the-world-priests-celibacy.cnn
Adrianne Murchison (Editor) March 02, 2013 at 12:23 AM
That worked! Thanks, Kathy.
Suzy Rogers March 08, 2013 at 05:53 AM
Liberals are interested in sex abuse in the Catholic church from 40 and 50 years ago in the same way that Republicans were concerned about perjury in a civil case in the impeachment of Bill Clinton. It's hilarious. Go here to learn the truth about the liberal media's jihad of exaggeration, bias and misinformation about the Catholic church and old claims of sex abuse. http://www.themediareport.com/ Stop the bias! Stop the lies! Tell the truth! Speak truth to the power of the media!
jMichael March 08, 2013 at 12:32 PM
Give it a rest, Suzy. The Church has shown itself to be a foul nest of predatory pederasts and their depraved protectors. Squealing "liberal bias" has about as much credibility as does a bishop feigning piety. None but the brainwashed buy into its preposterous pomp and pretense. None but the sheep continue to bleat its babbling cockamamies. And most directly to the point, none but its most deluded apologists buy into its feeble attempts to root out the foul pestilence that is now its sordid legacy. One cannot, any longer, garner exoneration by bending the knee. And neither can one promote that exoneration by bleating "liberal bias". Nice try though.


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