The Guardian‘s resident moron, Andrew Brown, has outdone himself this week, publishing a column designed to put “Catholic child abuse in proportion.” It’s a disgusting and self-serving piece of faitheistic tripe, and its underlying message is this: those people who attack the Catholic church for systematic child abuse are really anti-Catholic bigots. After all, claims Brown, the Church was no worse than other abusers.
He’s too cagey to say this outright, but raises the questions (which he doesn’t answer directly) at the outset:
But was the Catholic church unfairly singled out? Aren’t all children vulnerable to exploitation, especially when they are poor and unwanted?
After noting the statistic that about 4% of American priests and deacons abused children, and giving some perfunctory tut-tutting, Brown gets to his point:
This is vile, but whether it is more vile than the record of any other profession is not obvious. The concentration on boys makes the Catholic pattern of abuse stand out; what makes it so shocking is that parents trusted their children with priests. They stood in for the parents. But this isn’t all that different from the pattern in the wider world, either, where the vast majority of abuse comes from within families. The other point that makes the Catholic abuse is that it is nowadays very widely reported. It may be the best reported crime in the world: that, too tends to skew perceptions.There are, however, some fragments of figures from the outside world suggesting that not many professions do better. . .
And he asks again:
So why the concentration on Catholic priests and brothers? Perhaps I am unduly cynical, but I believe that all institutions attempt to cover up institutional wrongdoing although the Roman Catholic church has had a higher opinion of itself than most, and thus a greater tendency to lie about these things.
His point is obvious. Why the concentration on Catholic priest and brothers? Because, Brown implies, those accusations come from those who are simply anti-Catholics. And, in the end, he assures us that all is now well:
Certainly the safeguards against paedophilia in the priesthood are now among the tightest in the world. That won’t stop a steady trickle of scandals; but I think that objectively your child is less likely to be abused by a Catholic or Anglican priest in the west today than by the members of almost any other profession.
I beg to differ with Brown’s implicit conclusion. The concentration on Catholic priests and brothers comes from the shocking institutionalization of that abuse: the consistent efforts of Church officials, who knew full well about the abuse, to cover it up and, sometimes, simply transfer abusers to new places. Yes, other professions sometimes cover up child abuse, but not, I think, on such a massive scale. I am not aware of this kind of cover-up being endemic to American public schools, for example.
And what Brown fails to grasp is that the abuse is doubly shocking because it was committed by those priests to whom parents not only entrusted their children, but entrusted them to inculcate in those children a sense of morality. The outrage comes from seeing that those who were supposed to serve as role models—as paragons of morality—systematically abused that trust in the most heinous ways. And perhaps the Church’s ridiculous policy of celibacy contributed to this abuse.
Fortunately, Brown’s commenters—as usual—take him apart. It must be disheartening for the Resident Moron to watch, week after week, as his readers chew his tuchus to pieces. Maybe the Guardian keeps him on because his continuing idiocy promotes traffic on their website. But really, how can a reputable paper tolerate such witless garbage? Do the editors have any notion of what should pass for decent commentary?