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More on the USCCB

As I mentioned in my previous post:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a powerful, wealthy, and dangerous organization. They wield a great deal of influence over many politicians, affect the outcomes of various aspects of the legislative process, and pose a direct threat to the basic human rights of many Americans. Their priorities are skewed, their claims are frequently baseless, and they protect the Catholic Church over all else, no matter the cost. They get away with this because no one holds their feet to the fire and makes them answer the tough questions. Let’s ask those questions. Let’s shed some light on their tactics and actions and raise consciousness about the harm that they cause. They’ve gotten away with this for far too long.

Well, someone in the media is asking the tough questions, shedding light on their tactics and activities, and raising consciousness about the influence that they wield and the dangers that they pose. Rose Aguilar, an author, journalist, and the host of “Your Call“, a daily call-in show on San Francisco public radio, has been doing much-needed and important work on this issue, and is calling out the USCCB in a way that most in the media have refused to.

Last Monday’s episode of “Your Call” asked the question “How did the US Conference of Bishops become so powerful?”. It was an excellent episode, and I highly recommend listening to the podcast. And today, Rose’s op-ed, “The birth control bishops“, was published on Al Jazeera English. I’m honored and so happy to have been quoted/used as a source in it:

Speaking of damage control, over the course of my research, I ran across an analysis of a May 2011 USCCB 143-page $1.8m report [PDF] analysing the extent of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church titled: “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010”. The report was compiled by the research team at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice at the City University of New York.

“It is important to note that, although the research was carried out by the John Jay College, the UCCSB had the final say on whether or not to authorise publication of the report,” writes Miranda Celeste Hale, an English professor at North Idaho College, who writes about politics and the negative effects of childhood religious indoctrination.

Hale spent her spring break reading and analysing what she calls a worthless and dangerous report, which blames the cultural revolution of the 1960s for the abuse.

Hale says one of the most egregious aspects of the report was that the researchers arbitrarily redefined paedophilia as sexual abuse of victims that were ten years old or younger at the time, despite the fact that the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) sets the cut-off age at 13.

Redefining paedophilia allowed the researchers to claim that 22 per cent of sexual abuse victims were age ten and under, while the majority of victims were pubescent or post-pubescent, but Hale points out, if the researchers had used the DSM’s definition, that percentage would jump from 22 per cent to 73 per cent.

“The redefinition of paedophilia was really shocking,” she says. “Normally, a high percentage of priests would have been considered paedophiles and suddenly it’s fewer priests. No media outlet bothered to mention that or the fact that the report was funded almost solely by Catholic affiliated organisations.”

Hale believes the report is a “major setback in the movement towards church accountability”. She writes: “No, we must not shut up. We must not allow the Church to dominate the discourse. Speak out in whatever ways you can. On its own, what you or I say or write may not have any effect on the Church or the discourse surrounding this issue. Taken as a whole, though, our words provide a clear indication that there are many of us who will neither blindly accept the Church’s domination of the conversation nor quietly sit by while they evade justice time and time again.”

Rose is doing really great work, trying to keep media attention & scrutiny on the USCCB and their destructive activities and attitudes, and I’m really grateful for that.

Anyway, please go read her article– it’s excellent & I hope that it (and all of her work on this issue) gets the attention that it deserves. ♥

  1. Marvin Rodriguez Velez #

    As a former organizer for Pax Christi USA, I agree a 100% with your assessment! This is a vile organization that has no place in civilized society.

    February 24, 2012
  2. In light of all this Catholic nonsense, I’m almost happy I was raised Lutheran. Almost.

    …and wow, that USCCB website looks nearly identical in design to PR firms!

    February 24, 2012
  3. Ted Rogers #

    Congratulations on the air time!

    February 25, 2012
  4. Michael Krempp #

    Wow. Somebody is feeling very threatened. Sounds like Al Jazeera and the abortion lobby and some kook on San Francisco radio are all ganging up on the big bad all-powerfull bishops and other clergy who dare express concern with an aspect of ObamaCare. Everyone must get into lock-step. No one must be allowed to whisper any dissent. Those dissenting must be mocked, ridiculed and destroyed. What strange bed-fellows these are all seeking to still the voice of American religious leaders and the conscience of the populous. Throughout history this is usually one of the first steps of the autocrat. Sometimes it even builds into terrible dimensions.

    February 25, 2012
  5. Michael Krempp #

    By the way, did you notice, Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran theologian. Imagine what was said about him before they finally imprisoned and executed him.

    February 26, 2012
  6. I wanted to make an effort to commend you on this. I had watched the video from your previous post expecting to hear a polemic anti-Catholic diatribe, and instead what I saw was a thought-provoking criticism of an issue that does indeed require a great deal of scrutiny. In fact, I do not require hearing one vitriol-filled comment which is certainly MUCH MORE than I could say about a great many of my fellow Catholics who write about any issue in particular. Again, my compliments on a job well done and thank you for the candor and civility of your work.

    February 28, 2012
    • “do not require hearing”, should be “do not recall hearing”.

      February 28, 2012
  7. Michael Krempp #

    Scrutinize all you want my fellow Catholic and non-Catholic. Criticize all you want but expect a response, a defense. This is not your grandmothers Catholic Church. Consider how she characterized her piece.

    “New video discussing the various dangers posed by the unchecked privilege, power, influence, wealth, bigotry, and bullying tactics of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.”

    If you do not see or hear an anti-catholic polemic here then perhaps you need to look again.

    Bigot. An awful charge requiring an explanation. After all the accuser is a woman capable of picking her words carefully and with precision. We deserve an explanation.

    Wealthy. Now there is an indictment whether true or not. I suppose if you are a typical liberal college instructor there can be no other greater offense.

    Unchecked privelege. Tell that to the bishops fired in disgrace or required to pay large settlements such as to bankrupt their diocese.

    Power, Influence. Well, they are the religious leaders for about 20% of the US population despite the fact many of their flock do not follow many of their teachings. What do you expect.

    Need I go on.

    You sir are very selectively outraged.

    March 5, 2012

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