Updated: The Shakedown of the Catholic Church

Christianity,Criminal Injustice,Law,Pop-Psychology,Pseudoscience,Psychiatry,Sex


On the occasion of Pope Benedict being forced to publicly capitulate to the sexual abuse industry, I’m reposting a BAB post titled “Sex, God & Greed.”

Ever wonder why the epidemic of allegations that has almost bankrupted the Catholic Church has not caught on in the UK and Europe? I venture that this is because the pop-psychology that undergirds the lion share of the allegation, and the attendant class-action law suits that ensued, is American through-and-through.

The repressed memory mythology is an American invention. As I reminded readers in my “Defense of Hierarchy & the Catholic Church,” “this victim movement has done a great deal more than try and bankrupt the Church.”


In 2003, Daniel Lyons, in Forbes, hashed out all there is to say about the sexual-abuse shakedown to which the Catholic Church has been subjected. It’s worth revisiting this exceptional exposé, now that the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, lamentably, has decided to capitulate, rather than fight a racket facilitated by courts that are conduits to theft. Writes Lyons:

“….The focal point of this tort battle is the Catholic Church. The Church’s legal problems are worse even than most people realize: $1 billion in damages already paid out for the victims of pedophile priests, indications that the total will approach $5 billion before the crisis is over… The lawyers are lobbying states to lift the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases, letting them dredge up complaints that date back decades. Last year California, responding to the outcry over the rash of priest cases, suspended its statute of limitations on child sex abuse crimes for one year, opening the way for a deluge of new claims. A dozen other states are being pushed to loosen their laws.”

“’There is an absolute explosion of sexual abuse litigation, and there will continue to be. This is going to be a huge business,’ MacLeish, age 50, says. A Boston-based partner of the Miami law firm of GREENBERG TRAURIG (2002 billings: $465 million)…”

Lyons and Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal are the only writers I know of to have pointed out how many of these class-action claims are, if not bogus, backed by the discredited excavation of false memories. (See my “Repressed Memory Ruse”):

The repressed memory hoax “…relies on a controversial theory that has split the world of psychology into bitterly opposing camps for more than a decade: the notion that people can wipe out memories of severe trauma, then recover these repressed memories years later… Richard McNally, a Harvard psychology professor…. thinks recovered memories of trauma are questionable. He has conducted numerous studies on memory, particularly with sexual abuse victims. He says people don’t forget a trauma like anal rape. They might forget something like being fondled as a child, but that’s because the fondling was not traumatic, he argues. ‘It might be disgusting, upsetting—but not terrifying, not traumatic.’”

“McNally’s take on this subject has set off a hometown feud with Daniel Brown, an assistant clinical professor at Harvard Medical School who is a leading proponent of recovered memory. The two archrivals have never met, engaging instead in a ‘battle of the books.’
In 1998, when Brown won an award for his 786-page tome, Memory, Trauma Treatment & the Law, McNally wrote a scathing review that criticized Brown’s methodology. In March of this year McNally published his own book, Remembering Trauma, in which he bashes repressed-memory theory and criticizes Brown’s work yet again.”

Update (April 20): To the extent that there was sexual abuse in the Church—and it was never as rampant as the $2 billion-worth of lawsuits suggests—it was mostly homosexually oriented. So sanctioning marriage would not have mitigated the abuse of small boys. I can’t imagine, moreover, that by sanctioning marriage, our reader recommends that the Catholic Church bless gay marriage.

All in all, lowering moral standards in response to a moral crisis is surely not a very elevated solution. The church, therefore, need not change its tradition of celibacy.

5 thoughts on “Updated: The Shakedown of the Catholic Church

  1. Steven Stipulkoski

    The obvious solution to the Roman Catholic Church’s problem is to allow its priests to marry. This was once allowed.

  2. Steven Stipulkoski

    Well, I guess I did not make my point clear: If the Roman Catholic Church permitted its priests to marry then it could probably attract all the heterosexual males it needed for the priesthood.

    Ilana, I am surprised that you think allowing marriage is a lowering of standards. In fact, it is simply an acknowledgment of the fact that God gives few men the gift of celibacy. Apparently, too few for the Roman Catholic Church’s need.

  3. Andrew T.

    Let’s not pass up the opportunity to mention the first-degree offenders: comedians.

    I’m a fan of good comedy, but the kinds of jokes that comedians have perpetuated on Catholicism through extreme comic exaggeration of the phenomenon of clerical molestation are just terrible. I really feel for those people who have had their feelings upset by that.

  4. Douglas

    Actually, the church does allow for dispensations for married clergy in some circumstances (and it has always been allowed in the Eastern Rite Churches). Celibacy for priests has never been considered a moral issue for the church–it was just determined that generally speaking priests would be more effective by being celibate. But this rule is subject to change or modification by the Pope at any time.

    That said, I fail to see how any sexual abuse of minors in the church is related to celibacy rules. There have been many cases of Protestant clergy abusing children as well.

    Clergy with any sense of morality at least confine their sexual activity to other adults.

  5. Jamie

    Alternatively, the reason the “epidemic of allegations” has not caught on in Europe is just about nobody goes to church in Europe anymore.

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