Monday, April 12, 2010

Katherine Kersten Nails the Media's Obsession on Abuse in the Catholic Church

Katherine Kersten, the lightning rod conservative columnist of the StarTribune had a great article in the Sunday edition on something that has stuck in my craw for years now. The media is having a field day tripping over themselves to paint the Catholic Church as a bastion of pedophilia and abuse. Article after article have been published, regaling every sordid detail.

Don't get me wrong, the Church is not without significant blame. The cover ups and passing along of predator priests are unconscionable and have permanently stained the Church, and deservedly so. The Church, in turn, has paid a heavy price.

But consider abuse in other segments of our society. Katherine writes:
In 2004, a groundbreaking report commissioned by the U.S. Department of Education found that 6 to 10 percent of children in public schools have been sexually abused or harassed by teachers or school employees. Hofstra University Prof. Charol Shakeshaft, the report's author, estimated that about 290,000 students were victimized between 1991 and 2000. "So we think the Catholic Church has a problem?" Shakeshaft told Education Week. "The physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests."
And while we routinely hear of "titillating" stories of the hot teacher and the 18 year old student, most of the other stories are buried or uncovered. Teaching as a profession is above reproach, and is the religious center of Liberalism, whereas something as antiquated and backward as organized religion is something to be maligned and ultimately eliminated.

Personally, my creepy typing teacher aggressively and awkwardly came on to me when I was 14. She stayed in the district throughout my graduation, and as I gained an adult's perspective, I've often wondered who else she went after. Given her approach, I'm sure I wasn't the only one, and I'm confident that one of my peers that wasn't as lucky as I to be as grounded, secure, and able to navigate from those confusing waters is now dealing with this abuse later in their lives.

Granted, I'm one data point. However, if the goal really is to report on abuse, let's open the doors to our schools as well as the doors of our churches. If, on the other hand, the goal is to discredit organized religion, the media should continue to keep doing things they way they always have.

So which way do you think this will go?

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