Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The NCAA, Penn State and The Catholic Church- Response to CNN Contributor Stephen Prothero

Stephen Prothero in this opinion piece I think is missing some key points.

See My Take: Why is NCAA taking sex abuse more seriously than Catholic Church?

When this scandal hit many people were thinking what was Penn State thinking.

 They had seen in dramatic fashion what the Catholic Church went through. The Church early last decade enacted the Dallas Charter to deal with sex abuse. The Dallas Charter has largely been successful as we have seen in a series of audits that that the author of this piece mentions.

Further let us talk about the NCAA.

Countless tens of thousands of kids go through athletic summer camps at America's universities. From football to gymnastics, to baseball etc these often weeklong overnight summer camps are a fixture at any college of any decent size.

The NCAA seem to have shown little recent interest in making sure as to sex abuse protection these camps have safeguards , or for what I can tell other related matters the last decade. . No doubt the Penn State scandal is going to call for a review of that , and indeed we have seen in some States ( like Louisiana) new laws to start attention to this potential problem.

On a side note one can argue if what the NCAA did was proper here. That is ignoring a good bit of due process in order to get this problem off the radar fast. Maybe they were correct. However in the sports world there is considerable debate over this which I think is reasonable. Strangely this debate was happening in Catholic Church circles too.

As to sexual abuse we have to deal with the problem at different levels.That is the Vatican, the National Bishops Conferences, and the local Diocese. One could throw in the various female and male religious orders to boot.

 At the Vatican at the beginning they saw their role as everyone sort of has their day in Court.

This usually dealt with the issue of removing people from active ministry of the Priesthood or removing them from Holy Orders completely. Even as to this there was  no central command and these cases were in different Curia offices and departments.  This was painfully slow  much like the American Civil Justice system.

Cardinal Ratzinger changed that early on once he took it upon himself  to get a full grip on the problem. A must read on this is John Allen's piece Keeping the record straight on Benedict and the crisis.
 John Allen is a rather respected Vatican observer. Of key note is the section  "3. Canonical Trials "  at the bottom of that article.

Contrary to the tone of the CNN piece it shows an American Church wanting to act fast in cases of sex abuse , in what  one could say was a NCAA fashion,  and Cardinal Ratzinger apparently very much in agreement and leading the way.

We can never know how the Cardinals voted in the conclave , but there is little doubt that the appreciation for Ratzinger going at warp speed on this and giving Bishops more power to deal swiftly with the problem was very much appreciated.

 See Setting the Record Straight: Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta Discusses Role of then-Cardinal Ratzinger in Responding to Clerical Sexual Abuse Crisis in US Church . Archbishop Gregory at the time was head of the United Catholic Bishop Conference ,and played a key role in getting the Dallas Charter off and running.

The next place is the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. In many ways it is incorrect to think there is a creature called the  United States Catholic Church.

There are  Dioceses  in the USA in communion with the See of Rome. The true authority of National Bishops Conferences has long been in dispute. In reality their power is limited ,and a Bishop can often just pretty ignore what they say if he wanted too.

See  Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Apostolos Suos. 
See Benedict XVI on the role of bishops conferences

In other words it is wrong to think of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops as something akin  to the Episcopal Church USA or  Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) . It has no Church courts of it's own and can exert no discipline on anyone. In fact in the big scheme of things it has less power than even the Southern Baptist Convention .

I mention this  because even with the lack of any nationwide internal enforcement mechanism we saw amazing speed and almost total agreement in the enactment of the Dallas Charter early last decade .

 It appears that through the audits we have been doing it has shown great success. There is still much too do , but in reality the Catholic Church is light years ahead of many other both in the religious realm and the the government arena.

At this point it might be helpeful to review some recent news that has happened while the Penn State Scandal has been going on. There is a reason a major newspaper in an Op-Ed this year said that the public school system should look to the American Catholic Church in how to handle it's own sex abuse crisis

As we see the summer has brought no break from some tragic  news. See Even Summer Vacation Does Not Stop Avalanche of Teacher Abuse Atrocities, But Major Media Continue to Ignore Stories.

Yet in the past months what do we see? We see the Hawaii State Government exempt themselves and their political subdivsions from laws related to sexual abuse of minors.  .

The most under reported news from the week is what California Teacher unions managed to do. See Why California Democrats Protect Sex Abuser Teachers . Not only did the California State Legislature fail to learn from Catholic Church sex abuse reforms , but they apparently learned nothing from PENN STATE!!

There is no doubt the Catholic Church still has much to do. It is also clear some Dioceses might have not have got  the message in the same degree as the majoirty have.

No system will be perfect and mistakes no doubt will happen in the future. However it seems pretty clear to me that people if they are really concerned about protecting children should look at our reforms and if we have anything to contribute.


APOV said...

Yeah, the foxes are plumb congratulatory toward themselves on how well they guarded the chickenhouses. However if anyone really wants to know the truth, don't listen to the Catholic liars and PR people, but go to snapnetwork.org and see what the victims have to say about it. Anybody ought to know to pick up the phone and call the proper authorities when a child is being raped whether they are Joe Paterno or some Catholic. Oh, yawn, y'all are so tired of hearing about innocent children being raped and abused in the Catholic church. Just close your eyes and stop up your ears and pretend it is not happening like Mrs. Sandusky when children were being raped in her basement. Just spend all of your efforts in trying to sabotage health care coverage for employees, and criticizing the Episcopalians.

James H said...

I don't think the Catholic Church is going congrats on where we guarded the "henhouses" in the past. But I do think we have cause to be proud of the efforts we made now

Anonymous said...

sabotage health coverage?

How about Obama sabotaging religious freedom?

APOV said...

The efforts they have made is just in the area of public relations. The cover-up is continuing, the man who was in charge of damage control, and covering up for the rapists is now the so-called "Pope Benedict", and children remain in grave danger of being raped and abused. It was always just as simple as picking up a telephone and calling the police, but everytime the authorities got wind of a child being raped, they were faced with a brick wall of people claiming religious privilege. And now the rapists are claiming the same religious privilege to continue the exploitation of their employees.