Auxiliary Bishop Luis Armando Tineo of Caracas recently praised Pope Benedict XVI for his decision to confront the issue of clerical sex abuse and denounced the tabloid journalism of some media outlets that seek to denigrate the Church’s image.
“Benedict XVI is being transparent, firm and calm in this sense. His Letter to Catholics in Ireland is proof that he has opted for a pastoral and not a ‘tactical’ approach,” the bishop said.
However, media outlets such as the New York Times “have demonstrated a marked, unprofessional tendency to disproportionately cover the few unfortunate cases of abuse of minors by Catholic priests, most of which took place in the past,” he added.
Bishop Tineo noted that in 2004, the U.S. bishops commissioned the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, which is unaffiliated with the Catholic Church, to carry out a study on the issue. According to the report, “There is no objective data that supports the claim that child abuse is more common among Catholic clergy than among other sectors of the populace.” “Moreover, over the same period of time in which 100 Catholic priests in the U.S. were convicted of sexually abusing minors, the number of gym teachers and coaches ... who were convicted of the same crime by U.S. courts has reached nearly 1,000.”
“This was reported by Newsweek in its analysis of the problem in its April 8 edition this year,” the bishop said.
To call for objective analysis does not mean justifying sexual abuse, he stated, adding that analysis reveals that “the only institution that has investigated and provided data about itself in this area is the Catholic Church.”
In 42 years, of the more than 109,000 priests who have served in the U.S., 958 were accused and 54 were convicted. However, the bishop said, The New York Times intends “to lead readers to make a connection between being a Catholic priest and these unfortunate incidents committed by a few, thus creating a profoundly distorted perception of reality” and to make Benedict XVI responsible.
“The Pope is standing up and showing interest in the suffering of people and using the means at his disposal to keep these unfortunate sins and crimes from occurring again. In other words, he is dealing with the issue head-one by confronting and resolving the problem,” Bishop Tineo concluded.