There’s an interesting and distressing article in the LA Times on the tenure of Roger Mahony as archbishop of the Los Angeles diocese of the Roman Catholic church, concentrating on the sexual abuse scandal that plagued the church during the time he was bishop and in which, frankly, he was complicit. Like most Catholics I find the whole subject unbearably distressing and I have found that while it has not shaken the faith of many Catholics it has shaken their trust in the organizational church.
Overall I found it a good and informative article but, sadly, the article furthers two of the errors of reporting that burden the issue. The first is that the incidence of sexual abuse among Catholic priests is no higher than among men, generally. That is not a defense. I think, in particular, that the response of the church hierarchy to the problem has been criminal. But I believe that the most likely explanation for the focus on sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests rather than, say, male teachers, doctors, or lawyers is anti-Catholicism. Additionally, the article uses an incorrect definition of pedophilia. More than 80% of the victims have been male and more than 75% have been pubescent or post-pubescent rather than pre-pubescent which would meet the definition.
My own remedy would be the same one adopted by Chicago’s Joseph Bernardin when the issues came to light: zero tolerance. Report the cases to the police, as is required by law in the schools. I also think that there should be more women in positions of influence and power in the church. Won’t ordain women? Fine. Put non-priests in positions of power and responsibility in the church. Anything else is sexism which has been condemned in papal encyclicals.