Potshots, opportunism, and lies

Potshots, opportunism, and lies

Amy Berg, the director of the documentary on pedophile priest Oliver O’Grady and the Scandal in the Church that I mentioned the other day is taking advantage of the Congressman Mark Foley scandal with a statement published on the liberal blog site Huffington Post.

Riffing on Foley’s claim—sans documentation or any details—that he was abused by a clergyman as a kid, Berg immediately jumps to assume the abuse was by a priest and connects it all to her film. And if the claims she makes in this statement reflect the quality of her documentary, I expect the film to wildly biased. For instance, she claims that “by some estimates, 100,000 people, most of them children, were sexually molested by priests in the United States in recent years alone.” She adds that “This number doesn’t include the countless others who are still too ashamed to come forward and report their abuse.”

This is blatantly and clearly a lie. According to the supplementary report issued to the US bishops last year, John Jay College: Nature and Scope Study - Supplemental Data Analysis, (PDF) the total number of reported incidents of sexual abuse by priests and deacons in the US between 1950 and 2002 was 10,210. While that’s bad enough, it is not 100,000 people. And that’s for a period covering 52 years, not “recent years alone.” Also note that she said that these were reported cases, and was not including unreported cases. The only reason for inflating the number to that degree is to advance the notion that the Catholic Church, her celibate priesthood, her hierarchy, and her moral teachings present a clear danger to society.

Not the same kind of scandal

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1 comment
  • I’m not sure how much later those reports on US abuse victims can be since the John Jay report came out this spring.

    Also, she clearly said the 100,000 did not include unreported abuse. Using your extrapolation, that would represent millions of victims. Have one-third of male Catholics in the US been abused?

    As for worldwide abuse, you would be extrapolating across many different cultures and mindsets. while the American clergy may not be uniquely corrupt, it may be unique in the number of predatory homosexuals and unique in the number of bishops will to allow them to remain in positions to prey on victims.

    The problem with basing extrapolations on other extrapolations is that the assumptions pile up and become worse than unreliable.

    If we’re going to be credible attacking the problem, we can rely on lurid assumptions. We must use the truth and fact as our unassailable weapons.