You couch your remarks in the present tense,
This is because as far as I know the underlying power structure that enables this type of abuse has not been changed.
And here we find one glimmer of your broader anti-Catholicism. Non-hierarchical churchers frequently have an issue with the structure and polity of the Catholic church. But this is a separate issue. There is no inherent need for the power structure to be changed in order for issues of abuse to be handled properly. The same power that was exerted to mishandle such cases can be exerted now and in the future to properly handle them.
Your approach is akin to chopping off the hand of a thief. The problem with the thief is not that he has a hand – it’s that he has misused his hand. Chopping it off does not address the root problem; neither is it certain to prevent the problem’s recurrence, or to facilitate transcendence of the problem. Indeed, it may prove to be an obstacle to resolving the problem.
you invoke the most extreme of examples,
The example I used is actually taken from the report that was just released. One priest admitted to sexually abusing over 100 children. Another confessed that he had committed abuse about every two weeks for over 25 years.
And do you honestly believe these two priests to be average examples?
and you frame a myopic juxtaposition.
But I have glasses that correct it. Example?
Looks like it’s time for a new prescription.
You have repeatedly framed the issue as a juxtaposition between protecting priests and protecting children. As I have discussed above, there are further dimensions to the situation than this. More so than individual priests being shielded, it is the church - and those who depend upon it. Now, one may still consider this to be an intolerable trade. But the matter is not so microcosmic as weighing one priest’s welfare against that of a hundred children.
You also imagine that cooperation with secular law enforcement should be an eminent concern for the church.
Umm, yes. When the most heinous of crimes have been committed against children, I do believe cooperation with secular law enforcement should be an eminent concern.
Even when the outcome of secular involvement is likely to be an unjust levy – one that scarcely penalizes the culpable, but burdens the innocent and the needy?
Secular law enforcement is not the only avenue for justice, and at times it is neither the best nor the proper avenue for justice.
Obviously, pedophilia occurs in almost any institutional setting where adults are in contact with children. However, what we're seeing in the Catholic church is, as one Catholic official termed it, a tsunami. If there were a particular Protestant denomination, or public school system or medical establishment that possessed a similar track record for such a sustained and systematic level of abuse, I would consider it broken and unworthy to continue as an entity.
Very well, then. The primary institution with a perennial record for abuse is the family. Abuse by family members far outstrips that by clergy or educators or physicians. So we should dissolve our social structure of private families. Instead, we can adopt a public model for child-rearing, carried out by carefully-vetted and closely-monitored professionals.
But your standpoint here is classic Protestant/post-Protestant thinking. Rather than seeking to heal and redeem institutions, many who swim in the wake of the “Reformation” prefer to deal with institutional problems by junking and bolting. These sorts of persons may have a concern for purity. But purity is not G-d’s sole priority, and a basic reality of redemption is that it can take long patience with impurity and imperfection in order to journey to the point of sanctification.
We may note what G-d’s perspective is by his dealings with human beings, both individually and corporately. His patience and his hope for redemption are immense.
I don't buy the excuse of ignorance about child sexual abuse. There are church documents dating back at least to the Council of Elvira in 309 that dealt with the issue of sexual abuse of children (Canon 71 from that council threatened with irrevocable excommunication those "who sexually abuse boys"). This is not a matter of the Catholic church being ill-equipped or "poorly poised to deal with the problem."
Well, the canons of the Council of Elvira are
prescribed breakfast reading for all Catholic clergy.
But wouldn’t we expect to find such material in church documents, when “[o]bviously, pedophilia occurs in almost any institutional setting where adults are in contact with children
To appropriately engage the context for our topic, we should look more recently than the fourth century. The number of alleged abuses was rather low in the early 1950s, but increased greatly thereafter. The number did go down in the 1980s, and reached the low levels of the 1950s by the mid-1990s (but these numbers are tentative, since some allegations related to more recent years may not surface until victims are older). So many of our relevant cases involve the post-war generation (the “baby boom”), and some children of that generation.
The ill-poise of the church and of other institutions should not be chalked up to so simple a matter as flat ignorance, although there probably was less awareness in society about the incidence of abuse. The church and other institutions were ill-poised in some respects because, in the post-war society, authority figures were widely supposed to be respected. This may be traced to a desire for security and normalcy in the wake of the war, and to behaviors that young men and women had derived from widespread military service.
Furthermore, desire for security and normalcy may have contributed to a great emphasis on conforming to social ideals; many people, children and adults alike, felt pressure to keep up appearances and to avoid public embarrassment or shame. This was also probably a by-product of the great upward mobility that emerged after the war; many people were moving into an improved social standing, and wanted to exhibit a propriety that befit their new status.
These factors contributed to a social environment where abuse was too easily robbed of due attention. Society was less receptive to challenges against authority figures, and probably more inclined to attempt to preserve public institutions against embarrassment or shame. Children probably experienced more pressure – if not always explicitly – to keep from admitting things that might bring embarrassment to themselves and to their family or community.
For some time in American society, “decent” people would rather not think or talk about such things, and “decent” people would shrink from casting lurid aspersions against the clergy. And accordingly, “decent” public institutions would have been loath to make much of issues that could undermine their authority or yield public shame. This was a fundamental part of society’s being ill-poised to deal with matters of abuse.