October 04, 2005

Biased media surveillance of sex abuse distorts views

The Temple News

By Erin Cusack
Published: Tuesday, October 4, 2005

After three years of a Grand Jury investigation, a 423-paged report issued Sept. 21 revealed the negligence of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in handling sexual abuse allegations against members of its clergy for decades.

The details have made national and local news reports, the front page of the Philadelphia Inquirer and entries on every web log. There is no doubt the perpetrated abuses are revolting; but the limited media surveillance has branded the issue as a religious ill when it clearly embodies a larger societal crime that demands immediate attention.

Disproportionate media coverage has misled the public into thinking Catholic priests are the primary perpetrators of pedophilia and other sexual assault crimes. What is distinctly absent in the media is a discussion of clergy abuses in other denominations or other high-risk professions, informative statistics regarding reported cases and remedial proposals for an improved relationship between law enforcement and the community.

"We would be naive and dishonest if we were to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church," said the Rev. William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, in a 2002 Good Friday sermon. "Sin and abusive behavior know no ecclesial or other boundaries."

Posted by kshaw at October 4, 2005 02:50 PM