Feb 092014

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.

  3 Responses to “Headline News”

  1. The real silliness of it is that the confessionals in use at the time gave priests and confessors very little access to one another–no sight line, no physical contact. While I suppose someone might use that privacy to ‘groom’ a victim, it seems unlikely that this particular change had much at all (if anything) to do with rates of abuse. And, of course, you’d have to show correlation, which they don’t have, because we don’t have good data for abuse rates for the entire time frame before, during, and after that particular change.

    There have been (rightful) fingers pointed at clericalism, and at the ‘therapeutic culture’ that encouraged bishops to attempt to treat and cover up problems in clergy, but this new ‘confessional’ theory doesn’t seem to me to have a leg to stand on.

  2. I just recently remodeled my confessionals to behind the screen only and seperate entrances. To increase reverence for the sacrament and to protect myself against false accusations. Ancient wisdom strikes again.

  3. I healed from sexual abuse in the Confessional. Week after week, sometimes day after day, (there is a LM Parish in my home town with Confession every day) I used the Confessional for actual graces to heal from the deep emotional and psychological wounds inflicted on me by my abusers. Why doesn’t some reporter write about that? As a survivor of incest, I am getting sick to death of these accusations against the Church and Her Priests. I healed from my wounds in the Church through the ministry of her Priests.

    I wish more survivors would speak out in defense of the Church. This is getting ridiculous.
    God bless our wonderful Priests/Fathers

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