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As I mentioned in my previous post:
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a powerful, wealthy, and dangerous organization. They wield a great deal of influence over many politicians, affect the outcomes of various aspects of the legislative process, and pose a direct threat to the basic human rights of many Americans. Their priorities are skewed, their claims are frequently baseless, and they protect the Catholic Church over all else, no matter the cost. They get away with this because no one holds their feet to the fire and makes them answer the tough questions. Let’s ask those questions. Let’s shed some light on their tactics and actions and raise consciousness about the harm that they cause. They’ve gotten away with this for far too long.
Well, someone in the media is asking the tough questions, shedding light on their tactics and activities, and raising consciousness about the influence that they wield and the dangers that they pose. Rose Aguilar, an author, journalist, and the host of “Your Call“, a daily call-in show on San Francisco public radio, has been doing much-needed and important work on this issue, and is calling out the USCCB in a way that most in the media have refused to.
Last Monday’s episode of “Your Call” asked the question “How did the US Conference of Bishops become so powerful?”. It was an excellent episode, and I highly recommend listening to the podcast. And today, Rose’s op-ed, “The birth control bishops“, was published on Al Jazeera English. I’m honored and so happy to have been quoted/used as a source in it:
Speaking of damage control, over the course of my research, I ran across an analysis of a May 2011 USCCB 143-page $1.8m report [PDF] analysing the extent of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church titled: “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010”. The report was compiled by the research team at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.
“It is important to note that, although the research was carried out by the John Jay College, the UCCSB had the final say on whether or not to authorise publication of the report,” writes Miranda Celeste Hale, an English professor at North Idaho College, who writes about politics and the negative effects of childhood religious indoctrination.
Hale spent her spring break reading and analysing what she calls a worthless and dangerous report, which blames the cultural revolution of the 1960s for the abuse.
Hale says one of the most egregious aspects of the report was that the researchers arbitrarily redefined paedophilia as sexual abuse of victims that were ten years old or younger at the time, despite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) sets the cut-off age at 13.
Redefining paedophilia allowed the researchers to claim that 22 per cent of sexual abuse victims were age ten and under, while the majority of victims were pubescent or post-pubescent, but Hale points out, if the researchers had used the DSM’s definition, that percentage would jump from 22 per cent to 73 per cent.
“The redefinition of paedophilia was really shocking,” she says. “Normally, a high percentage of priests would have been considered paedophiles and suddenly it’s fewer priests. No media outlet bothered to mention that or the fact that the report was funded almost solely by Catholic affiliated organisations.”
Hale believes the report is a “major setback in the movement towards church accountability”. She writes: “No, we must not shut up. We must not allow the Church to dominate the discourse. Speak out in whatever ways you can. On its own, what you or I say or write may not have any effect on the Church or the discourse surrounding this issue. Taken as a whole, though, our words provide a clear indication that there are many of us who will neither blindly accept the Church’s domination of the conversation nor quietly sit by while they evade justice time and time again.”
Rose is doing really great work, trying to keep media attention & scrutiny on the USCCB and their destructive activities and attitudes, and I’m really grateful for that.
Anyway, please go read her article– it’s excellent & I hope that it (and all of her work on this issue) gets the attention that it deserves. ♥