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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Catholic League to AGs: Don't Stop with Catholic Church

Below is the text of a letter sent yesterday by the Catholic League to every Attorney General in the country. 

September 12, 2018

Dear Attorney General

In the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on the Catholic clergy, many states are considering a similar probe of offending priests. They should do so, with one caveat: they should also investigate the clergy of all other religions, private non-sectarian institutions, and public sector entities. Not to do so would be manifestly unjust and indefensible.

No attorney general or lawmaker would convene a grand jury on criminal behavior and then decide to focus exclusively on African American neighborhoods. They would have to include white-collar crimes, the kinds of acts that are mostly committed by affluent whites.

That is why it smacks of bigotry to single out the Catholic Church when investigating the sexual abuse of minors: We don't own this problem. Indeed, there is less of a problem today with this issue in the Catholic Church than in any societal institution, religious or secular.

For the last two years for which we have data, .005 percent of the Catholic clergy have had a credible accusation made against them. In the case of Pennsylvania, all the offending priests are either dead or have been thrown out of the priesthood. The same pattern exists elsewhere.

If you want to pursue molesters, you should begin by launching a grand jury probe of the public schools. This means they must be explicitly mentioned in any bill that would suspend the statute of limitations; otherwise they will be exempted under the antiquated doctrine of sovereign immunity. There are many good reasons why the public schools command scrutiny.

Consider two investigations of sexual abuse in the public schools. Published nine years apart, by two separate media outlets, they found that removing abusers from the teaching profession is very difficult.

In October 2007, the Associated Press (AP) published a series of articles, “Sexual Misconduct Plagues U.S. Schools,” that were based on its investigation. It found that between 2001-2005, 2,570 educators had their teaching credentials revoked because of sexual misconduct. It detailed 1,801 cases of abuse: more than 80 percent of the victims were students, and most of the offenders were public school teachers.

What happened to the molesters? “Most of the abuse never gets reported,” the AP said. Moreover, far too many of the offending educators were able to remain in the teaching profession. Often this was done by simply moving the “mobile molesters” to another school or district, a practice so widespread that it's called “passing the trash.”

In December 2016, USA Today published its own series on abuse in the public schools. It found that “passing the trash” was still the norm: abusive teachers were able to move to new teaching jobs, or to other employment working with youth.

USA Today found the same resistance to change as reported by AP: (a) “Administrators have pursued quiet settlements rather than public discipline” (b) “Unions have resisted reforms,” and (c) “Lawmakers have ignored a federal mandate to add safeguards at the state level.”

USA Today also found the same reasons why change proved elusive: (a) It cited “examples in every state” of secrecy agreements, many of which were “cemented in legally binding contracts” (b) most states refused to abide by a 2015 federal law requiring states to ban such secrecy agreements (only five states—Connecticut, Texas, Missouri, Oregon and Pennsylvania—had such bans in place), and (c) the federal government still “does not maintain a database of teachers who have sexually abused children.”

Regarding the last point, in 2009 Congress tried to rectify this by passing the Student Protection Act. It would have required the U.S. Department of Education to maintain a national database of educators terminated from a public or private school for sexual misconduct with a student. But, as USA Today found, it “died amid fierce opposition from national teachers organizations, which had concerns about due process for teachers accused of misconduct.”

In conclusion, if a grand jury investigation of Catholic dioceses is warranted, then fairness dictates that the public schools be subjected to one as well. Indeed, they should be your first priority.


William A. Donohue, Ph.D.



Anonymous said...

While all allegations of sexual abuse of children need to be investigated, equating targeting Catholic clergy with police targeting of African American neighborhoods is insane. Targeting the Catholic priesthood is not unjust because there are two fairly obvious reasons why Catholic priests are particularly likely to commit this sort of crime that do not apply to most other religions, or for that matter schools. The first is priests are required to take a vow of celibacy, and the second is that the church is an organization with unusually centralized power structures.

The problem with the celibacy vow is fairly obvious: priests have no outlet for their sexual urges, and resort to abusing the vulnerable in their congregations. Clearly religions allowing marriage by the clergy, and female priests/ministers/rabbis/etc. would not have as big of a problem with child sex abuse for this reason alone.

The problem with the centralization of the church means that efforts to cover up and facilitate abuse are both relatively easy to arrange and require a fairly small number of people to know about them. No other church is as centralized as the Catholic church, and indeed the whole reason many Christian faiths were founded was in opposition to the centralization of the Catholic Church.

As for the arguments here presented about schools, there is a bit of disingenuousness here. Because the age of the students represented by the statistics here is not reported, many or even most of them are likely to be in high school, and likely include students above the age of consent in their respective jurisdictions. Clearly, these situations are still bad, but they are nothing like the accusations that have been made against priests. Furthermore, because schools are not centralized above the district level (and in most private schools, the school level), there are not the sorts of opportunities for systemic abuse as exist in the church.

TLDR: Dr. Donahue must be dizzy from all that spinning.

Anonymous said...

Would love to see the data that backs up the statement that there is less of a problem in the catholic church than any other societal institution. Quite a defense tactic...we know Catholic priests abuse children, but so do educators, everyone is doing it, what's the big deal? It's like driving, everyone speeds. What an embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever watched this Donahue on TV? The guy is a kook and looks like he is always loaded. He is one of yours O'Hare.

Anonymous said...

12:51. Exactly

Robert Trotner said...

Exactly. This guy is totally tone deaf.

Anonymous said...

Don't see an issue with what is written. For years males were the monsters in our public school system. Now how often do we see the males committing sex abuse.? All need scrutiny. #Metoo or whatever? See how that's changing. All should be looked at.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows that only Catholics molest kids public school teachers have never done so. Public school teachers never have sex with students. Theres no need to investigate anything. Can we all agree on this?

Anonymous said...

Shapiro also knows theres no abuse problem in Jewish schools.


Anonymous said...

Grand jury's go where the facts lead them. If you have information let them know. If not let the investigation run its course. Gee sounds like you witch hunt people have been successfully reprogramed.

Anonymous said...

The Catholic Church as a whole is guilty. I believe everyone knew what was going on. This will be further proved by the additional 12 states that are now launching their own probe. I wish I knew why you are trying to protect the church like you are. There is something seriously going on in your past that is leading you this way. I wish you would read some history books on the Catholic Church from its inception. It has been a church that is cursed and now we are finally seeing the beginning of the end of the church.

Anonymous said...

`abuse of students by their teachers is never to be condoned. That being said, most cases of public school cases that make the press involve female teachers sleeping with their male students. I cant recall ever seeing cases of pedophilia. I have to think the psycological damage, if any, done to a teenage boy who is sleeping with their teacher is much less than a child being molested by a priest. Indeed, many boys would be proud of their misplaced accomplishments.

Canary_In_Coalmine said...

Yes this is a societal issue, and not exclusive to Catholics. Many people, and institutions especially, are inclined to cover up unpleasant or embarrassing matters. We ignore this issue in other institutions at our peril. Still, the Catholics had a huge problem for decades (centuries?) and in my mind the jury is still out on whether they have cleaned up their act. So Mr. O'Donahue's point would be better made with less whataboutism. I'd also like to hear him explain why the Church's reforms represent best practices that other institutions should emulate.

Anonymous said...

8:03 AM,

The Catholic Church is a mandatory reporter. If they know about it, they have to report it to the A.D. or the police. If they don't and the authorities find out about it, people go to jail. Also, the alleged offender of sexual issues must be removed from his office and cannot be in contact with people. Lastly, since the past few decades more has been done to weed out perspective priests that could present a problem with physical relationships of any type.

Anonymous said...

Scouting, Hollywood, Catholic schools, Hebrew schools, public schools, universities, workplaces, prisons ...... #MeToo

Bernie O'Hare said...

"That being said, most cases of public school cases that make the press involve female teachers sleeping with their male students. I cant recall ever seeing cases of pedophilia."

What do you thunk that is? If you type the words "pedophile"and "teacher" into google, you will be surprised by the number of hits. In many cases, this occurs at religious schools, but it occurs at public schools as well. And a cover-up culture is alive and well at most school districts on anything that might embarrass school officials.

Anonymous said...


I for one can appreciate your sarcastic humor!

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Have you ever watched this Donahue on TV?"

I agree he is the kind of defender who can make things worse. His initial reaction to the AG report was disgusting. But this is a good letter. There is still an element of anti-Catholicism out there. Also, I dislike the emphasis on public schools. But the point that pedophiles are everywhere and that cover-ups are everywhere is one that should be recognized.

Bernie O'Hare said...

"Would love to see the data that backs up the statement that there is less of a problem in the catholic church than any other societal institution. Quite a defense tactic...we know Catholic priests abuse children, but so do educators, everyone is doing it, what's the big deal? It's like driving, everyone speeds. What an embarrassment."

This is a distortion of the letter. I would love to see the data on public schools, other religious schools, youth sports, counseling agencies. The data I do see from him is that the number of Catholic clergy (0.005%) is miniscule. Of course, we'd need to see that from an unbiased source.

Because the Catholic church has been under such scrutiny for so many years, I believe it probably is less of a problem than at other institutions. In the Allentown Diocese, for example, all allegations are immediately reported to authorities, no matter how credible. I doubt that happens elsewhere.

Anonymous said...

As a recovering catholic, I have a few observations.
1. Donahue is a drunken fool with zero credibility. Always has been. That's why he got the job.
2. Donahue himself talks and acts like a guilty perp.
3. The catholic church is a patriarchy and needs a mouthpiece like Donahue to spin reality into a martyrdom construct in order to keep asses in the pews and the collection baskets full.
4. Donahue is only about "whataboutism", all the time and every day. He is the king of distraction and authoritarian dominance.
5. Donahue is just like many so-called "devout" catholics who live by the concept of faith as the willing suspension of disbelief. It is far easier than critical thinking.
6. The catholic church cannot exist without secrecy, ritual, subservience of believers and a rigid hierarchy that sets the rules. Transparency is it's greatest threat.

Anonymous said...

It is called the Dallas Charter. It has been in existence for quite some time. This is what other institutions need to enact:


Canary_In_Coalmine said...


Do you have any data supporting your claim that priests are more likely to molest because they aren't allowed to marry? Or did you just state an unproven theory as fact?

About 25 years ago, when I was a Catholic, a friend of mine made a crack along these lines. He was joking, but I found it offensive nonetheless. I don't think 12:51 is joking.

Bernie O'Hare said...

10:05, I do not defend Donahue's more ridiculous statements, and question the accuracy of his claim that only 0.005% Catholic clerics are the subjects of credible accusations. But the ad hominem only makes you look bad. The Catholic Church is a human institution, and like any human institution, it is flawed. It can be viewed as hypocritical bc it strives for high ideals, but we are all hypocrites. You condemn secrecy but do not ID yourself. Shall I call you a hypocrite?

Years ago, the Catholic Church made significant steps to clean up pedophilia in the church. I doubt John Morganelli is informed when accusations are made, credible or incredible, against clerics of other faiths, teachers or counselors at nonprofits.

Despite the breathless coverage everywhere, much of the publicity concerning the Pa grand jury is pure sensationalism engineered by people like Shapiro, who have their own agendas, and a struggling news industry. It does give victims an opportunity for closure and may lead to other reforms. In that sense it is a good thing. But most are more concerned about the lurid details.

I know my opinion is unpopular. Won't be the first time.

Anonymous said...

"You condemn secrecy but do not ID yourself."

Did you really just equate commenting on a local blog anonymously with the culture of secrecy that perpetuated child sexual abuse in the catholic church? Seriously?


Anonymous said...

Sensible triage is the only way to proceed.

That which bleeds the most gets treated first.

Bill's pronouncements only shows the permanent ugly scar of trauma that remains. His efforts to shade the church and point elsewhere only serves to further hobble the institution.

"If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land."

Bernie O'Hare said...

Janey, I agree that they are different situations my point simply is that we are all hypocrites. Me too

Anonymous said...

When the "lurid details" are the rape and torture of hundreds of children, everyone should be concerned. The catholic church in PA had a 7-step playbook to cover-up the rape and torture of children. This is an organization built on a culture of celibacy, patriarchy, secrecy, and a strict hierarchy. Why shouldn't AGs in other states look into possible widespread abuses? If the church has really cleaned up it's act then why perpetuate this attitude of concealment?

Anonymous said...

Thank you anon 6:24. No one wants to acknowledge that. This is very easily part of a Jewish plan to destroy the Catholic Church. They have wanted to do that for many, many years.

Anonymous said...

Trying to defend the Catholic Church is like trying to put a shine on a turd. Nothing attracts the weirdos like the Catholic Church .The church has been exposed for what it is: A group of old men overseeing the worlds largest pedophile operation.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Donohue is a POS from the old school.
Christopher Hutchins cut him off at the knees.

Anonymous said...

the catholic church must go the way of the dinosauers.

Anonymous said...

Catholic League is Donahue, not affiliated with Catholic Church. He is an old school bigot and hot air machine.