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Following constant media statements about the Catholic Church and child abuse, the Pope's official preacher, on Good Friday, quoted a letter from a Jewish friend: 'The stereotyping, the transfer or personal responsibility and blame to a collective blame, reminds me of the most shameful aspects of anti-Semitism. I have followed with disgust the violent attacks É against Church and Pope'.
The media didn't like that - responding with claims that two- thirds of Americans say the Pope has handled charges of abuse by priests poorly.
To put things in context, between 1950 and 2002, about 4.1 percent of American priests were accused of having sexual relations with minors but just 0.1 percent (one in 1000) were convicted.
Over that period, 60 times as many gym teachers and junior sporting team coaches were convicted of similar crimes.
The rate of sexual abuse by US school teachers has been over 100 times that of priests. (Sources for the above figures available on request).
Headlines saying 'it involves the Pope' refer to a case in the Archdiocese of Munich, where the Pope was Archbishop in 1980. The court decided, among other things, that the decision to accept the accused priest into the Archdiocese had not been taken by Cardinal Ratzinger.
The whole human race has handled child abuse poorly, that is for sure. But trying to demonise the Church as chief offender is dishonest - trivialising the guilt that we all, especially the media, share.
ARNOLD JAGO (DR)
Reprinted from AD2000 Vol 23 No 4 (May 2010), p. 16
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