Thursday, April 6

The Pope and the Scandal

One Fr. James Martin, SJ, repeats an occasional criticism of John Paul:

"John Paul, though a prayerful man of unshakeable faith, was not perfect either...he appointed most of the bishops responsible for the sexual abuse crisis in this country..."

Heraldist Guy Selvester, also priest, disagrees:

I'm afraid that simply isn't true. It's easy to think... that he certainly must have appointed bishops who were responsible, either in a small or a large way, for at least part of the sexual abuse crisis in the United States.

But it is simply wrong to say that John Paul II appointed "most" of them. The results of the John Jay Study on sexual abuse by clergy tells a different story. The study said that 4,392 clergymen were accused of abusing 10,667 people, with 75 percent of the incidents taking place between 1960 and 1984. The study said the sharp decline in abuse incidents since 1984 coupled with the declining percentage of accusations against priests ordained in recent years "presents a more positive picture" than the overall statistics. It said that 68 percent of the allegations were made against priests ordained between 1950 and 1979, while priests ordained after 1979 accounted for 10.7 percent of the allegations. Pope John Paul II was elected in late 1978. If most of the abuse occurred between 1950 and 1979 then that means the bishops responsible to sweeping things under the rug in the first place and continuing to maintain a coverup were appointed by Pope Pius XII, Pope John XXIII and Pope Paul VI.

Even when you take into account the bishops appointed by John Paul II who would have been in place during the years 1978-1984 (years when the percentage of abuse was still higher) that hardly makes for "most" of the bishops being John Paul II appointees. The simple fact is that bishops have and continue to cover up abuse problems by clergy but "most of the bishops responsible for the sexual abuse crisis in this country" were not appointed by John Paul II but by someone else.

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