It happens every day. In fact, it is pretty hard to avoid it. There are some things that can only be understood with a slap on the forehead. Things so mind-boggling that one wonders how humans managed to evolve thumbs while being this mentally inept. Case in point:
Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on a news story about a former priest who molested a male listed as John Doe:
On September 28, the Chicago Tribune reported that “former Chicago priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormick sexually abused him [Doe] while he was a grammar school student.” We then learn that the student was really a middle-school student, in the eighth grade, when the abuse began. The abuse reportedly continued for five years. According to the lawsuit, “McCormack inappropriately sexually touched, hugged, rubbed and/or abused Doe.”
It’s time to ask some tough questions. Why did this young man not object earlier? Why did he allow the “abuse” to continue until he was 18?
These are not tough questions; they are stupid questions. There is a wealth of information about why victims of abuse do not come forward, why they continue to associate with their abuser, and why they do not necessarily fight back. Donohue could have taken the time to read that information, but it appears he did not, possibly so he could make the following point:
The use of the quotes is deliberate: the charge against the former priest is not rape, but rubbing. While still objectionable, there is a glacial difference between being rubbed and raped.
Physically speaking, Donohue is correct. Being rubbed is not the same as being forced into intercourse. Those are two very different experiences and it would be unfair to conflate the two. Psychologically speaking, there is no difference. I have met men who were only fondled or had oral sex performed on them who are in as bad and often worse shape than men and boys who were forced to perform oral sex or intercourse. These men are just as psychologically harmed because it is the impact of the abuse that causes the most damage. It is the betrayal of trust, the manipulation, the coercion, lies, and trickery, not just the act. Again, Donohue could have read about this, but it appears he did not, probably so he could make the following point:
Here’s what we know. We know that this case, like most of them, was the work of a homosexual, not a pedophile.
That is incorrect. The majority of the men who sexually abuse boys identify as heterosexual. That information has been around since the late 1980s. Anyone peddling the “child molesters are gay” trope has gone well beyond intellectual dishonesty.
And like most of the cases of priestly sexual misconduct, there was no rape involved. Inappropriate touching is morally wrong, and the offenders should be punished, but the time has come to object to all those pundits who like to say that the scandal is all about child rape. Most of the cases did not involve children—they were post-pubescent males—and most weren’t raped.
Actually, that is incorrect as well. Most states count any sexual activity with children under 12 to 14-years-old as rape or sexual assault. Likewise, most state sex offense statutes do not limit rape to penetration. Most of them count any sexual act forcibly committed against a minor as rape or sexual assault. The Chicago Tribune does not specify exactly what the victim states happened, and since it is a lawsuit and not criminal charges, we cannot know what charges the police might have filed.
However, all of that moot. Any sexual act committed against a child can technically count as rape because a child has a limited capacity to consent. They are too easily manipulated and coerced. If it someone they trust, like, or love, it would be very easy for that person to get the child’s “consent.” This is why pundits call these acts rape. It is just to use provocative words; it is because in this situation it would be difficult to call it anything else.
As for the victims mostly being teenagers, that is correct. Most victims of child sexual abuse are between 12 to 17. However, we still consider them children, both legally and socially.
Again, all Donohue had to do was look this information up. It is readily available online, and it takes only seconds to find. However, it seems he wanted to make this point instead:
Why does this matter? Because those looking to sue the Catholic Church for being inappropriately rubbed decades ago are not exactly the poster boys for the victims of child rape. And because those who hate the Church continue to use the term child rape as a way of discrediting the Church. They lie about this being a pedophilia problem and they lie about the nature of the misconduct. That’s reason enough to call them on it.
Donohue has his facts wrong. According to the Tribune, the victim stated the abuse occurred between 2002 to 2007. So the abuse ended only three years ago, not decades ago.
Secondly, no one is using the term child rape to discredit the Church. The Church has discredited itself by failing to address instances of sexual abuse. Every week there is a news report about new documents or records revealing Church officials’ knowledge of abusive priests and nuns. In most of those cases, the offenders were simply moved somewhere else or the abuse was covered up. Again, these documents come from the Church itself. So it is not a bunch of anti-Catholics who have tarnished the good name of the Catholic Church. It was their own officials who did that.
Thirdly, from the most prestigious priests to the lowliest nuns, there does seem to be a problem with clergy in positions of power abusing children. The Church’s own documents and reports support this. Yes, some of the news reports do mislead the public by using incorrect terminology. The Tribune’s article was not one of them. The Tribune called the act “sexual abuse.” Unless Donohue wants to object to the calling the fondling of boys “sexual abuse,” there really is no problem here.
The only issue is that Donohue does not seem to like the attention all the sexual abuse is getting. That is too bad because no one will stop reporting about these cases just because it upsets the Catholic League president. We honestly have no idea how pervasive abuse is in the Catholic Church (or any religious group for that matter). What we do know is that there are a lot of men, women, and children who have come forward stating that some nun or priest abused them. Rather than playing politics with their allegations, or claiming that they are exaggerating them, perhaps we should take them seriously. The best way to keep this stuff out of the news is to prevent it from happening in the first place.