Jude Collins

Sunday, 17 July 2011

The Cloyne report and five related questions

Bishop John Magee

I haven’t been following the report  on  child abuse and its supervision  (or lack of) from Cloyne diocese. It seems, however, that some clergy in that diocese failed to follow the policy that would have protected children.  Worse than failed, in fact – in one case a bishop appears to have written two contradictory reports of a meeting with an accused priest.  If this is true, it stinks. As does – do I need to add? – sexual abuse of children by adults, and particularly when those adults are members of the clergy.

That said (and, I hope, heard),  there are a number of points that need attention. In most cases they involve information that I don’t have, so I’d welcome factual enlightenment.

1. There are at least two ways in which adults abuse children: physically and sexually. Sexual abuse has been given considerable media attention, physical abuse relatively little.  If I’ve been physically abused by adults, even if it was several decades ago, can I have them charged and brought to court?

2. Is there a link between the celibacy rule for Catholic clergy and the sexual abuse of children?  There seems to be a general assumption that there is but I haven’t seen any facts and/or figures to support this. Perhaps someone can help.

3. Is sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy proportionately greater than sexual abuse of children by clergy in other Churches/religions and/or by the general public?  The media focus on Catholic clergy suggests it is, but again I haven’t seen facts and figures that support this. Does anyone know where these are to be found?

4.  Since we can’t address all the awful things that happen to children at the one time, some sort of prioritisation seems a good idea. With that in mind, does anyone have comparative figures for the number of children subjected to sexual abuse and the number of children subjected to other types of abuse – for example, violence or poverty/malnutrition?

5. Are paedophiles responsible for their actions or are they suffering from a ghastly disease which they can’t control? If the former, they should be punished. If the latter, they should receive not punishment but treatment.  Does anyone have verified medical information on this question?

And please - can we stick to facts and figures? Thanks. 


  1. 1. It only counts as abuse in the media/politicians if it was by a Catholic priest or a member of a religious order. If a lay teacher or a football coach used to beat you, tough.

    2. No link with celibacy according to a recend John Jay report from America.

    3. Proportion is roughly the same across all groups - but only reported if it concerns a Catholic priest. Hence terms like "clerical abuse" as if it were a separate category.

    4. There's plenty of figures for child poverty around, but abuse is hidden and numbers are covered up by State as they don't have man power or will to deal with them.

    5. The big problem paedophiles have is that the psychiatric professon has effectively given up on the notion of treatment. When they decided to stop treating people with same sex attraction who wanted help (the only approach is to accept and embrace your condition) they were left with problems when faced with the more extreme deviancies. So do you tell a paedophile to accept and embrace his condition?

  2. Anonymous - thank you for your thoughts. I'm struck by the fact that this blog, on a topic that when last aired without an exhortation to stick to facts and figures, drew some fifty responses. This time, with the facts/figures restriction, just yourself...Go figger?