Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Sunday 26 September |
Saint of the Day: Sts Cosmas and Damian
home iconNews
line break icon

The Necessary (and Good) Visibility of Catholic Scandals

Kool Cats Photography

Artur Rosman - published on 02/16/14 - updated on 06/08/17

If you want to delve deeper into the implications of these different ways of inhabiting the world, and how I account for the exceptions to the rule, then take a look at my longer discussions of both the Catholic imagination and the Protestant imagination.

All of this has bearing on why the public sex scandals that have rocked the Catholic Church have totally drowned out the evangelical world’s greater problems with sex abuse. What I’d like to suggest is that this disproportion in coverage makes perfect sense.

When I say the evangelical problem is greater I’m talking about an even earlier RNS report about Billy Graham’s grandson, Boz Tchividjian. He reasons that the Protestant abuse problem is much worse, because of structural reasons. Here is what Mr. Tchividjian, a Liberty University law professor, executive director of Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) said long before Bob Jones University fired his investigative company:

"While comparing evangelicals to Catholics on abuse response, ‘I think we are worse,’ he said at the Religion Newswriters Association conference, saying too many evangelicals had ‘sacrificed the souls’ of young victims…

"‘The Protestant culture is defined by independence,’ Tchividjian said. Evangelicals often frown upon transparency and accountability, he said, as many Protestants rely on Scripture more than religious leaders, compared to Catholics.

"Abusers discourage whistle-blowing by condemning gossip to try to keep people from reporting abuse, he said. Victims are also told to protect the reputation of Jesus."

In other words, the “natural” Catholic trust of institutions and hierarchies, as much as they might complain about them, means that there is an accountability structure that ensures the buck will stop somewhere.

The Catholics have been working on their crisis in earnest since at least Benedict’s pontificate without much fanfare, because it’s much more profitable (both for trads and liberals) to play up the scandals to score intra-ecclesial points by other means.

Here are two stories that should set you straight on Benedict’s unfairly maligned record: “Jesuit expert calls Benedict ‘great reformer’ on sex abuse” and “Retraction: Vatican now confirms almost 400 priests defrocked for sex abuse.”

Our evangelical friends don’t have such a wide ranging accountability net to catch their problems. This is one reason why the Catholic Church, in ways different than Islam, does not need the fissiparousness of a Reformation.

It’s also the reason why—there’s no reason to bemoan it—Catholic scandals will always remain more visible than evangelical scandals. But let’s not forget the secular world’s record is infinitely worse than the religious world’s, because there’s almost no place for the buck to stop in institutions such as the UN.

Courtesy of Ethika Politka

Artur Rosmanis a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Washington. He also blogs regularly at Cosmos The In Lost.

  • 1
  • 2
Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...

Top 10
J-P Mauro
Chicago architect models Vatican City from 67,000 LEGO bricks
Cecilia Pigg
7 Ways the saints can help you sleep better at night
Philip Kosloski
Why J.R.R. Tolkien loved to attend daily Mass
The Sinai Peninsula and the Dead Sea Rift
J-P Mauro
Experts now believe Sodom was destroyed by a meteor
Bret Thoman, OFS
Exclusive photos: Meet Padre Pio and the place he lived
Philip Kosloski
How Our Lady saved Padre Pio from a violent demonic attack
Cerith Gardiner
9 Padre Pio quotes for when you’re feeling scared or uncertain
See More
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.