Errors or Lies?

Two days ago, The National Catholic Register ran a story on its blog about a bill before the New York State legislature on child sexual abuse that harshly treats private institutions while going easy on public ones.  “In a detailed statement responding to criticisms of the bill,” the story says, “[Assemblywoman Margaret] Markey said that public schools have handled abuse cases well in recent years, whereas the Catholic hierarchy ‘has relied on secrecy, quiet transfers and threats to hide abusers when the threat of public disclosure emerges.’” When the Catholic League asked Markey’s office for a copy of her statement, we were told by  Rosemary Lategano that the story was wrong—there was no such statement. We then called the newspaper and obtained a copy of it.

Catholic League president Bill Donohue commented on this today:

“Was Markey’s office in error? Or were we lied to? One thing is for sure: Markey is wrong about the facts. She says the public schools have shown ‘increasing sensitivity’ to cases of child sexual abuse, and that they ‘routinely move swiftly to respond to allegations against employees.’

“In 2007, the AP did a major report on this subject. It concluded that child sexual abuse in the public schools was ‘a widespread problem,’ saying there was ‘a deeply entrenched resistance toward recognizing and fighting abuse.’ Moreover, offending teachers are moved from one school district to another, so often that they are called ‘mobile molesters.’

“Two years earlier, author and educator John Seryak concluded that ‘The problem in education dwarfs the Catholic Church problem.’ And a year earlier, Dr. Charol Shakeshaft, the nation’s leading authority on the issue, estimated that ‘the physical abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse of priests.’ So common is the transfer of offending teachers that it is called ‘passing the trash.’

“Markey’s bill is based on faulty assumptions and erroneous data. It also unfairly discriminates between Catholic schools and public schools. And her office staff is either incompetent or devious.”

Contact Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver: speaker@assembly.state.ny.us

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  • Cooky642

    While I agree with the Catholic League that this is just more “Catholic bashing”, I have a real problem with this issue. My problem is that everyone is judging the record of the past by the standards of the present.

    It is a fairly recent development in psychology that child predators are seen as “wrongly wired”. Back in the day, it was considered an unalterable truth that child molesters didn’t want to be child molesters and, given the right amount of treatment and time, they’d stop being child molesters. With or without treatment, they were passed along to a new environment where they could make those changes necessary to be normal human beings. It took modern medicine and modern understandings of personality to realize that these people were incapable of stopping their behavior.

    I don’t mean to deny the accountability of those who let the pedophile/homosexual priests off the hook. They were wrong and created a huge swath of suffering. Nevertheless, they were only accepting the advice given them at the time by the “experts”. Can they honestly be blamed (at least to the extent that are being blamed) for not knowing any better?

    On the other hand, why aren’t those who do know better not being blamed?

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