A ‘ping’ notified us of an article in Psychology Today (1/8/19) titled “Top 10 Myths About Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church.”  1) It doesn’t happen?  Not quite, but the article by Thomas G Plant Ph.D., ABPP  suggests it’s de minimis.

We decided to email Tim Lennon the President of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (“SNAP”) to seek his opinion  and invited him to respond, particularly as Dr Plant is an American academic  :

Reply to Church Apologist :

Reply to the apologist for the church who attempts to cover for bishops and their complicity in historical and widespread rape and sexual abuse of children, minors and adults by clergy.

Prof. Plante wrote an article for Psychology Today that attempts to hide crimes and misdirect leaders.
Myth #1 He says it is only 4 percent. But he bases it on church study, John Jay report sponsored by bishops, not independent research.
I say, we see in over a dozen civilian grand juries and investigations that the percentage is in the 8% to 10% of catholic clergy. 4% or 10% is still tragic.
Myth #2 He says sexual abuse almost nonexistent in the church according to church sponsored studies.
I say, read the newspaper. Almost two thousand predator clergy have been identified in the last year. We find bishops such as Malone in Buffalo and DiNardo still covering up for predators to this day. The police have raided all the dioceses in Michigan with police raids in Buffalo and Houston due to coverups. Twenty states have instituted investigations of the church.
Myth #3 Prof. Plante, on one hand dismisses the severity of the widespread abuse by saying predators only abuse one, and on the other hand saying that they only ‘fondling one victim.’
I say, sexual abuse is soul murder. It is equivalent to murder–it cases lifelong harm (drugs, alcohol, emotional and psychological harm, suicide). To dismiss it and attempt to lower the harm is sickening. Please note, I was raped and sexually abused for months when I was twelve. When I came forward in 2016 I learned of fifteen other victims. Most victims never come forward.
Myth #4 He says the it is now easier to report, law enforcement and health professionals do a better job, etc. therefore fewer reporting today means the church has changed.
I say, again the article relies on the self reporting of bishops who sponsored the study. Check BishopAccountability.org, check the media stories to see the falsity of the argument. And look to independent research of CHILDUSA.org who says the average age for a victim of childhood sexual abuse is 52. And research of RAINN.org who says most victims never come forward. Instead of apologizing for the church Prof. Plante would do better to force the bishops to take on more efforts to reach out to those who have not come forward.
Myth #5 Prof. Plante says that it is not homosexual men.
I say, I agree. Sexual orientation is not the cause of sexual abuse.
I do want to point out over the last several years the million people visiting our SNAPnetwork.org website have been around 53% women and 47% men. And the million visitors to our SNAP Facebook page are again about 53% women and 47% men. I question the 80% of victims are boys based upon analytics from both our website and Facebook.
Myth #6 He says that celibacy is not a problem. His evidence is thin if non-existent.
I say, I question the necessity of celibacy. It does not seem to be healthy. Independent research says that 50% of all clergy, at any given time are not celibate–see awrsipe.com
Myth #7 He says that having women priests does not “stop men clerics from abusing children.” And it mostly men who abuse children.
I say, we have seen a long and sordid history of the church hierarchy covering for each other (Cardinals Law, Mahony, DiNardo, McCarrick, etc) and bishops who cover up for priests. PA attorney general said bishops conspired to cover up sexual abuse. Archbishop DiNardo knew a priest abused fifty victims and did nothing.
Myth #8 The professor says not all victims are truthful.
I say, sure you can find exceptions to everything. But independent research shows that the percentage is about 2%. Keep in mind when grand juries investigate they find universal truth in the veracity of the statements of victims. For instance, a thousand victims identified in the PA grand jury report, and 2500 additional contacts to the hotline after the grand jury report was released.
Myth #9 Prof. Plante says clergy predators did not go into priesthood to abuse children.
I say, sure they did. Predators gravitate to those institutions where they have access to children and the vulnerable, coaches, teachers, ministers, doctors. Analysis shows that their are ten thousand clergy predators with 100,000 or more victims. Prof. Plante implies that they did not start as predators, rather their participation in the church caused them to be predators? My impression, based on my personal experience, is that predators saw the church as a candy store where they could abuse children and the vulnerable at will. And these abusers had the cover of the bishops and the Vatican if they ever got caught.
Myth #10 The church is doing all it can to prevent abuse.

I say, bullshit!

  • The church spend $10 million dollars to lobby against stronger laws.
  • The church continues to cover up and hide abusers. (see Buffalo, DiNardo, etc) Until the coverups stop, no child is safe.
  • The professor cites policies and procedures yet there is no accountability for failure to follow them.
  • The dioceses have releasing names of predators that they have known about for years, if not decades, it is only because of public outrage, not moral integrity, that these names are released.

Throughout Plante’s article there was no effort to help or support victims and no advocacy for stronger enforcement of laws. There was no call to hold accountable those bishops who covered up sexual predators.

All the rationales we saw in the “10 Myths” were excuses for abdominal behavior by privileged men.

Tim Lennon

E: tlennon (at) SNAPnetwork.org