.- British social commentator Brendan O'Neill wrote a recent piece calling out U.S. and U.K. media for skewing clergy sex abuse stats and wrongly portraying the Catholic Church as hosting âan army of pedophile priests.â
O'Neill serves as editor of the independent social commentary website Spiked, and is a feature writer for the BBC. O'Neill also makes journalistic contributions to U.K. and U.S. publications such as the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Chicago Sun-Times and Christian Science Monitor.
âApparently the British state is about to roll out the red carpet for a seriously evil rape facilitator,â O'Neil began his editorial on Sept. 13, referencing to the Holy Father's upcoming trip to the U.K. this week.
Quoting recent headlines, the commentator wrote that Pope Benedict XVI has been portrayed as âthe boss of a church that acts as a 'patron, protector and financier of child rape'â and that allegedly â'over 10,000 people have come forward to say they were raped as part of this misery-go-round' overseen by His Holiness and His Lackeys.â
âBut how true is this ugly truth? Were 10,000 children in America and thousands more in Ireland really raped by Catholic priests?â he asked. âIn a word, no.â
âInstead, what has happened is that in the increasingly caliginous, almost Inquisitorial mindset of sections of the New Atheist anti-pope lobby, every allegation of abuse against a Catholic priest,â he noted, âhas been lumped together under the heading of 'rape,' and every allegation has been described as an actual proven ârapeâ regardless of whether it resulted in a legal trial, never mind a conviction.â
O'Neill then cited the 2002 study commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which was published in 2004 and titled, âThe Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States.â
âOf the 4,392 priests in America who were accused of sexual abuse in the period of 1950 to 2002, 1,021 were investigated by the police, and of these, 384 were charged, of whom 252 were convicted,â O'Neill clarified. âSo around six per cent of all American priests who had allegations made against them were finally convicted.â
He continued, this is nothing like the â10,000 individuals in Americaâ who claim âthey were raped by Catholic priests.â
âIn truth, 1,203 made this allegation.â
Similarly, when the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse was published in May 2009 which detailed abuse accusations by Irish reform school attendants, âthe media reported it as if it had uncovered apocalyptic, Caligulan levels of sexual depravity.â
ââThousands were raped in Irish reform schools,' said the Independent. âThousands raped in Irelandâs Christian Brothers schools,' said the Belfast Telegraph. âThousands raped and abused in Catholic schools in Ireland,' said the Guardian,â recalled O'Neill.
âSo were thousands of children - in particular boys, the main focus of the media reports - raped in Irish reform schools?â he asked. âNo - 68 were, allegedly.â
While O'Neill claimed he is not out to âdefend the Catholic Church, which clearly has a sexual abuse problem,â it is nevertheless âworth pointing out the reality of the extent of allegations against the Catholic Church in order to expose the non-rationalist, anti-humanist underpinnings of the current fashion for Catholic-baiting amongst the liberal, opinion-forming classes in the US and the UK.â
âThe wildly inaccurate claim about thousands of children being raped by the representatives of an institution which actively âprotected and financed child rapeâ suggests that modern-day atheism, this New Atheism, has zero interest in applying the tools of rational investigation and critical questioning to the problem of certain religionsâ infrastructure, and instead is hell bent on using the politics of fear,â he noted, âin contrast to which it can pose as the pure defender of childlike innocence and societal integrity.â