The Freedom From the Religion Foundation on the pedophilia scandals,
Penn State vs. the Roman Catholic Church.
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Report card: Responding to pedophilia scandals
July 27, 2012
*By Andrew Seidel
FFRF Staff Attorney*
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) on Monday, slapped
Penn State with a $60 million fine and penalties
for covering up the rape and abuse of children by assistant coach Jerry
Sandusky. The penalty, the stiffest penalty in NCAA history, includes:
• A $60 million fine. The fine will fund programs that help child abuse
and rape victims.
• An additional $13 million over four years, the Big Ten, Penn State’s
conference, fined the school
• A four-year ban on playing in the postseason. This means a significant
loss of revenue from bowl games and no chance at a national championship.
• The loss of scholarships to entice athletes to attend.
• Five years of probation.
• Any Penn State player may transfer and immediately play for other
schools. This gives opponents an opportunity to cherry pick the players
they want from the Nitany Lions. Although at least 30
have promised to stay, Silas Redd, the Lions’ star running back and
leading rusher, is contemplating a transfer
to the University of Southern California.
• All Penn State victories since 1998 have been vacated. The vacated
wins drop former Head Coach and the late Joe Paterno from 409 career
wins down to 298 wins. Paterno is no longer the winningest coach in NCAA
There is little doubt that a cover-up was orchestrated at the highest
levels of Penn State, including Paterno. An independent report,
conducted by former F.B.I. director Louis Freeh, found that Paterno
wielded power disproportionate to his office and was intimately involved
in the child-rape cover up.
According to the Freeh report
cover-up stretched back more than a decade and, “in order to avoid the
consequences of bad publicity, the most powerful leaders at Penn State
University — Spanier [Pres.], Schultz [V.P.], Paterno and Curley
[Athletic Director] — repeatedly concealed critical facts relating to
Sandusky's child abuse from the authorities, the Board of Trustees, the
Penn State community, and the public at large.” Freeh Report at 16.
Freeh continued, “[t]he avoidance of the consequences of bad publicity
is the most significant, but not the only cause for this failure to
protect child victims and report to authorities. The investigation also
revealed: a striking lack of empathy for child abuse victims by the most
senior leaders of the University.” Freeh Report at 16. Emails quoted in
the report show that officials were concerned with treating Sandusky,
the criminal, humanely, but demonstrated no care for the victims. For
instance, in a statement to Freeh’s investigators, former PSU President
Graham Spanier said, “it would be humane to offer counseling to Sandusky
if he didn’t understand why this was inappropriate and unacceptable to
us.” Page 76.
By now, this should sound familiar. There is another organization that
cares more about its image and the well-being of child-rapists then it
does about the victims of rape, that believes itself about the law: the
Catholic Church. The similarities in the cover-up are striking, but the
differences even more so.
The Penn State debacle lasted only about a year after the allegations
came to light. Sandusky was convicted, everyone involved at PSU was
fired, and the NCAA handed down its harshest penalty ever. There will be
additional criminal prosecutions for those who helped in the cover-up,
but it is mostly over. The NCAA discovered a serious moral and criminal
crisis in one of its subordinate bodies and acted swiftly to contain the
crisis and punish those responsible.
Contrast this with the response of the Catholic Church in the face of
decades of unremitting pedophilia scandals and institutional cover-up.
The Catholic Church, which claims a monopoly on teaching morality,
commands absolute obedience from its parishes, dioceses, priests,
bishops and cardinals. These underlings actually believe the Church
controls their /souls/. Rome has the ability to dictate virtually any
outcome to their subordinates. Ratzinger (a.k.a the Pope) could order
his predatory priests to do literally anything: turn themselves in to
the civil authorities, for instance. Apparently obeying divine law is
less strenuous than acting in accord with secular law.
The Catholic Church is in a unique position of absolute authority over
its subordinates. I can think of only two reasons why the Church
hierarchy hasn’t fixed this systemic problem: (1) the Church cares more
about its image and keeping its pedophiles well-stocked, than it cares
about children, or (2) the hierarchy in position to fix the problem is
the problem. No doubt it is a combination of both.
But, the civil authorities are just starting to crack down
however belatedly. After a three-month trial Monsignor Lynn, 61,
formerly of the Philadelphia dioceses, will spend the next three to six
years in prison for concealing the crimes of rapist priests. According
to the New York Times
“prosecutors presented evidence that he had shielded predatory priests,
sometimes transferring them to unwary parishes, and lied to the public
to avoid bad publicity and lawsuits.”
Lynn’s sentencing statement makes it clear that he still does not accept
responsibility for his crimes: “I have been a priest for 36 years, and
/I have done the best I can. I have always tried to help people/.” What
temerity and self-delusion! Allowing children to be raped is not
helpful, indeed few things are more ruinous. Given his complete failure
to assume responsibility for his actions, he got off easy. Finally, the
secular law is going after what the judge called the “monsters in
If there are any Catholics reading this, know that the NCAA, an
organization-governing athletes, is far more ethical and upstanding than
your church. The beliefs you cleave to and the tithes you give
contribute to the rape of children and the cover-up of that abuse. You
paid Lynn to do the “best he could.” You paid Lynn to “help” these
children. That is the hard truth, but this is not: It’s time to quit the