It is sometimes the case that a headline has little or nothing to do with the actual contents of an article. That headlines are crafted for page views not a quick summary of an article. It is also true in many news organizations that the author of the piece is not the one to write the headline.
So I kept all that in mind when I read this headline from the Daily Mail “How a Pope called Pius turned the confessional box into a paradise for paedophiles”.
Unfortunately the article and headline are one and the same. The attack against Pope Pius X is that he decreed in 1910 that children must make their first confession at the age of seven.
The article goes on to state:
Statistics of offences have revealed that the age group most prone to attack was seven to 13 – the precise child cohort admitted to obligatory confession by this papal decree.
Well that is certainly news to me. For example the report commissioned by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice regarding clergy sex abuse would dispute the previous statement and that majority of victims were post-pubescient. Although the fact that roughly 21% of the victims were in the category described is not to be diminished. Still I can’t think of a report that stated what was said in this article.
While there certainly has been in cases a link to a priest using the confessional in such a ghastly manner is this true in the majority of cases of sex abuse? So trying to blame Pius X for the abuse crisis that seem to rise so many decades later is stretching it. The article does not mention at all the reason Pius X in the Decree Quam Singulari lowered the age regarding the sacraments of the Eucharist and Penance. It was based on discerning the “age of discretion” or the “age of reason” a necessary point to determining when a child should have access to these sacraments.
Just a slimly article that does no favors regarding calling out the sexual abuse that did occur.