By DEXTER DUGGAN
PHOENIX — The male sex predator leers at a computer monitor, then tells his young female target whom he’s “grooming” for abuse, Let’s talk about sex.
This isn’t a scene from a PG-13 movie at the local mall multiplex, or a Planned Parenthood video forced into your neighborhood schools.
It was in the Catholic “safe environment” training video I was required to watch as a parish volunteer last November — a volunteer role not even involving special contact with minors, but as a eucharistic minister with Catholics generally at regular Masses, a service I’ve performed for a decade.
In a society overrun with wall-to-wall entertainment and high-tech graphics, did some diocesan official decide that only vivid dramatizations could hold the interest of viewers of mandatory training videos?
Earlier in this video, a woman told her personal story of how a priest had abused her, but when the video progressed to the dramatized leering predator and his victim, I had enough.
After hypocritical news media finally pinned the nation’s Catholic bishops to the wall early in this new century for allowing indefensible sex abuse of young people, the prelates resolved to show they’d learned their lesson. But some of their answers raised more questions.
(I say “hypocritical” media because shocking sex abuse by Planned Parenthood is fine with these media, as is homosexual activity, unless a scandal can be turned back on the Church to weaken its legitimate religious authority.)
Parish volunteers weren’t the culprits in the sex scandals; it was clergy. Should the training concentrate on priests being required to view diocesan videos?
In the periodic trainings I’ve received since beginning as a eucharistic minister, one repeated message is that homosexuality wasn’t a notable factor in the abuse. This seems highly unlikely, but certainly is a reflection of liberal cultural canons.
I complained to my parish’s director of volunteer ministries that the dramatization I saw last November was disgusting. She replied that she’d received similar comment from several people, including staff. “We agree” with this feedback, she said, and had informed the diocesan safe environment office, in hopes of a change.
Next, I asked a spokesman for the Phoenix Diocese “what sort of review the diocese provides for this sort of material before it’s presented to volunteers? And whether any change will be made to this video?” There was no reply.
At various times in history, a major problem for the Catholic Church, and not only in the United States, has been to conform too closely to some prevailing social or cultural identity outside the Church.
In this nation in this age, that often means media political liberalism on various issues, including promoting massive lawbreaking “immigration” to aid the Democratic Party, with its Culture of Death.
One had only to look at the Phoenix diocesan web site in December to see a Catholic News Service story that essentially was cheerleading for anti-Catholic Barack Obama’s political push to raise the minimum wage.
The CNS story even quoted Obama inelegantly about lower-wage workers who “work their tails off and are still living at or barely above poverty.”
The irony was too rich about the far-left Obama, who has done everything he can to keep this nation’s jobs-poor economy crippled and maimed, pivoting to another issue to divert attention from the massive Obamacare catastrophe and the suffering he inflicts on Americans.
Despite numerous cogent arguments about the negative effect of raising the minimum wage — a wage that even U.S. bishops have recognized isn’t the same as a living wage — the CNS story concluded with a quote from an Illinois professor that “[w]hen you simply look at it by values and social good . . . ‘there is no argument not to increase the minimum wage’.”
Only another example of a Church that has had problems wresting itself from the death grip of liberal Democrat politicians. Causing disasters culturally and morally.
But enough of that. Let’s talk about sex.
Asking Brad Miner, senior editor of The Catholic Thing blog, to comment, I mentioned the dramatization of the predator and young female in the training video. Miner is a senior fellow of the Faith & Reason Institute and a former literary editor of National Review magazine who has written about the Church’s sex-abuse scandal.
He thought the portrayal of the sexual target as a female was unrealistic.
“Your example of a girl being set up by a predator troubles me,” Miner replied, “since more than 80 percent of the abuse cases over the last decades were homosexual in nature. If we keep ‘gay’ men out of the priesthood, we’ll have an ongoing problem of infinitesimal proportions.”
He told The Wanderer that after he converted to Catholicism in 1973 as a 25-year-old, he was propositioned by priests at least three times within three years, and perhaps by a fourth priest, “but I’ll give that priest benefit of the doubt.”
Miner referred to the report produced at the request of the U.S. Catholic bishops about the causes and context of the Church abuse crisis. It was prepared by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York and released in 2011.
“Anybody who says (as the John Jay report does) the abuse crisis wasn’t about homosexuality is clueless about what was going on in the Seventies,” Miner told The Wanderer. “The Jay Report makes in part what’s called the Woodstock Defense, i.e., everybody was questioning sexual mores then and priests ought not to be chastised for behaving as everyone else was.
“The ludicrousness of such an assertion is obvious,” Miner continued. “Except for this: The Seventies were transitional years, and the culture, especially in academia (and that includes seminaries) took a decided lurch to the Left. . . .
“The data are there for all to read about the predatory acts against kids and teens by priests (and other male professionals, such as schoolteachers),” Miner said, “and I’m unclear why these . . . felt compelled to prey on the young, although it must have something to do with power, with the assumption that these young people could be compelled by threats to remain silent.
“But as Panorama magazine in Rome and others have shown, there was also at the time (and in Rome it’s ongoing) a lot of homosexual behavior among priests and young men — men in their 20s and 30s. None of that is part of the John Jay Report, where the cutoff is [age] 17.”
Miner pointed to a column he wrote in 2011 about the John Jay Report. He’d written:
“The research team must have faced a serious, albeit familiar, problem: Since most of the abuse cases were male-on-male, they were in a pickle as to how they’d deal with the confirming data without demonizing the ‘gay’ subculture. So — they barely mention it. Apparently this is fine with many at the USCCB, despite the fact that the bishops, who commissioned the study, ostensibly consider homosexual behavior gravely sinful — and not just for priests. . . .
“Yet the crisis was self-evidently homosexual in its genesis,” Miner continued. “This we know from the fact that eighty-plus percent of the abuse was same-sex, whereas sexual abuse in the larger culture is overwhelmingly heterosexual. And the John Jay social scientists limited their research and analysis strictly to the abuse of minors, and so don’t present (nor did they seek) data on the extent to which priests were engaged sexually with other adult men (or women for that matter).”
These recollections might be interpreted as focusing on the past. However, they demonstrate that Church officials to this day prefer to accept and promote an inaccurate picture lest they give offense to the culturally powerful. With wolves on the prowl, bishops’ sheep are left exposed.
The Wanderer also asked Bishop Robert Vasa, head of the Diocese of Santa Rosa, Calif., where he stands on safe environment training these days, because he had expressed opposition to it for children when he previously led the Baker, Ore., Diocese.
Vasa responded to this writer but declined to comment for publication.
The Voice of Catholics Advocating Life (VOCAL) blog in 2005 quoted Vasa posing a number of questions in order to explore objections to USCCB “safe environment” training for children.
The blog said Vasa concluded that at the very least, “even the possible unsatisfactory answers to any of the questions . . . leaves me unwilling and possibly even unable to expose the children of the diocese to harm under the guise of trying to protect them from harm.”