This week, in a new report out of New York, we’re hearing that the Boy Scouts of America have the names of “thousands” of alleged child sex abusers taken from the ranks of their leadership. Does this sound familiar?
The victims’ rights attorney, Jeff Anderson, called it a system of denial and cover-ups. He claims the Boy Scouts have files on child abusers within their ranks dating back to the 1940s.
“For many, many years there’s been an excavation of what are called the ‘perversion files’ — those are files held and hoarded at the Boy Scouts of America headquarters,” Anderson said during Tuesday’s New York press conference, adding that “those ‘perversion files’ that they’ve had reflect that they have removed thousands of offenders of childhood sexual abuse over the years and they’ve kept that in files secretly.” …
[T]he number of alleged perpetrators found in the files is new, according to Anderson. He said, citing testimony by a professional retained by the BSA to audit the files, that there were 7,819 suspected perpetrators, while the number of victims total 12,254.
“That is a number not known before today or ever revealed by the Boy Scouts of America,” he said. [emphasis added]
Obviously, for Boy Scout leaders, the matter of mandatory celibacy is not a contributing factor. The sheer numbers here, then, add significant weight to counter the argument that clerical celibacy is a leading cause of child predation.
Those who prey sexually upon children — pedophiles and ephebophiles alike — are typically found in the ranks of organizations that give them access to young people, usually in a context of leadership of said young people. They are found in the priesthood, yes, but also in other religious leadership roles in other faiths, as coaches or teachers in public schools, in daycares, and in groups like the Boy Scouts.
Nothing will excuse the absolute moral failure of the Catholic Church in dealing with these situations. As members of Christ’s priesthood, Catholic clergy must be held to a higher standard, and the Church cannot be excused for allowing so many disordered men to enter the priesthood.
But cases like the Boy Scouts — and the allegedly even more massive problem in public schools, which nobody seems particularly interested in examining — need to be given the same scrutiny that clerical cases receive.
The clichéd argument, “If they only allowed priests to marry…,” on the other hand, needs to be shelved. Permanently.
It would be nice to believe that real causes could be examined, real problems addressed and potentially eliminated, and the anti-Christian bias that drives the spotlight on clerical abuse set aside for a common goal of helping the countless children who have been victimized by adults in unspeakable ways.
Sadly, that’s not the world we live in.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.