“One of the things that we’ve learned is that we sent people off for evaluation and we got reports back saying. . .it’s safe to put them back in ministry” with monitoring, Kane said. “We found out that isn’t true. That was a mistake. We didn’t realize the depth of this terrible, terrible sin and crime . . . child sex abuse.”
1981 — Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) becomes prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s watchdog agency for faith and morals, including the investigation of serious crimes.
The German-born cardinal comes to the job at a time when revelations about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests are beginning to surface, especially in the United States.
Among the accused are the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, a priest at a school for the deaf in Wisconsin, who eventually acknowledges molesting more than 200 boys, and the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Mexican-born founder of the Catholic order, The Legion of Christ.
1985 — In one of the first major abuse cases to become public, Louisiana priest Gilbert Gauthe pleads guilty to 11 counts of molesting boys. He serves 10 years in prison.
1992 — Massachusetts priest James Porter is charged with sexually abusing more than two dozen boys and girls. Porter, who pleads guilty and is sentenced to 18 to 20 years in prison, is the first case in what becomes a major scandal in the Boston diocese.
1992 – At a meeting in South Bend, Ind., the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops acknowledges that some bishops have attempted to cover up abuse.
1999 — A Massachusetts court brings child rape charges against former priest John Geoghan. Throughout his career, Geoghan had been repeatedly accused of sexually molesting boys but was transferred from parish to parish until 1998, when he was finally defrocked.
It was blindingly obvious well before 1998 that therapy and relocation just resulted in more opportunities for these men to molest more children, because it kept happening. The church keeps falling back on this nonsense that the prevailing literature of up until yesterday indicated that people could be therapied out of raping 7-year-olds, and hey, they were just listening to the experts!
Part of the problem comes from an entrenched power structure protecting itself, of course. But another, larger part of the problem with Holy Mother Church is its Dark Ages insistence on equating internal church Canon Law with actual civil law. Canonical trials, rather than civil ones. Church-sactioned therapy, rather than state-ordered treatment. Compliance with the procedures of the Vatican, as if that is a real and actual thing. As if that’s supposed to mean something if you’re not Catholic, or even if you are. As if that’s a comfort or a remedy of any kind.
You see this over and over and over in every modern ideological dispute in which the church involves itself. The abortion blackmail of lawmakers, the contraception mandate freakout, the absurd panic that somehow churches will be sued into marrying same-sex couples. They truly do not believe the rules of where they are apply to them.
And it makes sense, from a historical perspective. The rules never have. It’s just that we tend to be a lot more lenient when the rules don’t actively interfere with POLICE INVESTIGATIONS.