Pedophile priests: one in 45 July 15, 2007Posted by dorigo in news, politics.
113 out of 5000. That is 2.26 +- 0.21 %: the fraction of priests who served in the Los Angeles area between 1940 and 2003 and were accused or convicted of pedophile acts.
The figures I quote above come from a startling article I read today on the web site of La Repubblica. There, I learn that the LA church has decided yesterday to settle the matter without going to trial, by agreeing to pay a hefty 660 million dollars (that’s right, 660 thousand grands) to 508 victims. And this is not even a first timer: just last December a similar agreement was reached to prevent the limelights of mediatic attention on a very embarassing trial. In that case, a mere 60 million dollars were used to silence 40 more victims of abuse.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles appears quite willing to settle these cases without the hassle of a Jury assessing the truthfulness of the accusations, and thus sparing cardinal Mahony the embarassment of a testimony. This will probably allow religious followers the escape of blaming the accusators for making things up, for vile monetary reasons, rather than having them forced to reckon with the truth of a verdict.
If 2.26% of them got caught, how many more got away with it ? We will never know. Let me guess. 5% ? 6% ? Or 10% ? I am sure Los Angeles is not the best place for a priest to indulge in illegal acts against children, but still, the power of plagiarism of a charismatic figure per antonomasia, plus the shame and young age of the victims, and the faith of their relatives, must make it very hard for these abuses to emerge even in environments such as the United States, which are a country otherwise very protective for children (granted, of that LA is not the prime example).
Being a priest is the best thing that can happen to a pedophile, it seems: not only does your job allow you to be in close contact with children in an environment where you are trusted and where you are perfectly entitled to spending time with any of them alone. Not only does your position give you the means. Your bosses will also do their utmost to cover your sins up if they at all can. And, if worse comes to worst, all that can happen to you is to be moved, and forced to start your plagiarism from scratch. Of the 113 accused priests, 43 are dead, and 54 have changed occupation, but 16 are still serving the catholic church.
To make an example of the mechanism, let me quote from the detailed article on the Los Angeles Times:
In 1986, Baker told Mahony that he had abused two or three boys several years before. Instead of calling police, Mahony sent the priest to New Mexico for treatment and over the years transferred him to nine different parishes, where he allegedly molested 23 boys and girls.
A question remains to be asked. Should we think at Los Angeles as a weird place ? Well, for sure LA is not Heaven, but it seems quite reasonable (and is indeed suggested in a BBC documentary on the phenomenon) to believe that the cancer of pedophile priests who abuse of children while they teach them religion is more or less evenly distributed throughout the dioceses of the whole catholic world – a belief fortified by the practice of the Vatican, that hushes the scandals up, and moves priests accused of these crimes to far away places, where nobody knows them, and where – maybe I am a bit cynical here – they are free to start fresh.