The Watchtower Society has condemned the Catholic Church for over 15 years because of their pedophile cover-up -- NOW, the Watchtower Society is trying to make a defense of their OWN pedophile cover-up by claiming that they are "No worse than any other religion"!
Statements made to the Media by Official Watchtower Society Spokesmen about the Jehovah's Witnesses pedophile problem being "no worse than any other religion":
Christianity Today, January 26th 2001:
Witness spokesman [J.R.] Brown says that the incidence of pedophilia is no worse in his religion than in others, but he admits that some elders have not reported suspicions of abuse.
The Paducah Sun (Kentucky) Newspaper - January 28th 2001:
Jehovah's Witnesses' handling of child sexual abuse criticized
By C.D. Bradley firstname.lastname@example.org
Mario Moreno, associate general counsel at the church's New York headquarters, said when church policy is applied to child molesters, "as a parent, an attorney and an elder, I'm comfortable with our policy."
[J.R.] Brown said the church does not necessarily equate reporting the matter to law enforcement to protecting the child because "not all the time does government authority provide the protection the child needs. We don't say automatically that, but unfortunately too many reports show that's the case. You can be sure they're going to take what action is necessary to see that the child is protected."
"It's a matter of trying to balance confidentiality and protecting the child," Brown said.
Moreno said he believes that while some of the church's critics on this topic have legitimate concerns, most "have a problem with pride" and "want the organization to change for them. We go by what we believe the Bible says, and we don't change for anybody."
He also said he feels the church is "being picked on" and added that he would be willing to put the church's policy up against any other.
The Courier-Journal, News Item Sunday - February 4, 2001:
Policies on reporting abuse allegations vary among religious denominations
By PETER SMITH, The Courier-Journal
Like the Jehovah's Witnesses, seven other religious denominations surveyed by The Courier-Journal expect their clergy to report all suspected child abuse in states where they are required to by law.
The approach among religions varies in states that do not mandate reporting.
Even in reporting states, variations are possible. For example, Kentucky and Indiana require citizens to report suspected child abuse. Indiana allows no exceptions. Kentucky allows exceptions for clergy-penitent and attorney-client privilege.
Roman Catholic Church: Policies vary by diocese. The archdioceses of Louisville and Indianapolis require priests to report suspected child abuse in all circumstances except when they learn of it in confession. Even in that setting, priests can counsel someone confessing a crime to go to a counselor or police. Archdiocese of Indianapolis spokeswoman Susan Schramm knew of no instance where that exception conflicted with Indiana law.
Southern Baptist Convention: Churches are self-governing, so regional bodies do not dictate policies. However, the Kentucky Baptist Convention trains staff and volunteers to recognize and report suspected child abuse to authorities, according to Wendy Dever, preschool and children's associate for the convention.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.): Policies vary by regional governing body but are often shaped to follow state law. Pastors in the Louisville-based denomination are forbidden to reveal anything told them in confidence. The church does not make an explicit exception for suspected child abuse but pastors can violate confidentiality when there is a "risk of imminent bodily harm to any person."
Rabbinical Assembly (Conservative Judaism): Congregations are self-governing, but rabbis are expected to do everything to protect an abuse victim, including calling authorities. "One doesn't need a specific secular mandate that says protect somebody in trouble," said Rabbi Joel Meyers, executive vice president of the Rabbinical Assembly.
Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: Policies are determined by regional governing bodies but often follow state law on who is required to report, according to the Rev. Lowell Almen, secretary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
United Methodist Church: The church does not have a policy that requires clergy to report suspicions of child abuse, but clergy training emphasizes that laws often mandate reporting. If a pastor learns of abuse in a confidential setting such as a counseling session, "that's a decision a pastor would make on a case-by-case basis," Robert Kohler, assistant general secretary of the Division of Ordained Ministry.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons): Church leaders are instructed to call a denominational help line if abuse issues arise in the congregation. Those staffing the phone lines include professional counselors as well as lawyers who advise local ministers on their state's laws. "The law of the land must be obeyed," said a statement from the Latter-day Saints public affairs department. "If a report is required, help line personnel assist the local church leader . . . as who should make the report -- whether . . . a family member, whether the perpetrator can be persuaded to self-report, etc."
No religious denomination contacted has even considered what some Jehovah's Witnesses are demanding of their church: that congregations be told of pedophiles in their midst.
But many churches bar sex offenders from working with children, according to Dever of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.
And they increasingly conduct criminal background checks of potential pastors, youth workers and other volunteers.
"Small churches have a hard time with that, because they know everybody," Dever said. "But we really don't know everybody. We live in 2001. We have to be concerned about this."
Staff writer Megan Woolhouse contributed to this story.
The Guardian U.K. Newspaper - October 26th 2001:
Archbishop pays for Catholic church's complacency
The Catholic church has been saddled with the public humiliation of a series of high-profile cases of sex abuse by priests and is desperately trying to overcome the scandal. In fact, Catholic priests - and other clergy - are statistically much less likely to be sex offenders than other groups but every case produces shame and damaging headlines.
About 28 priests have been convicted since 1995 and new cases crop up every few months - only this week a priest in Reading was arrested for possession of pornographic images on his computer.
Other churches have their problems too and have been much more hesitant in dealing with them. The Jehovah's Witnesses, who face a string of court cases in the US, decline to investigate allegations unless there are two independent witnesses and advise parish elders to burn any complaints set down in writing.
Jehovah's Witnesses Authorized Website of the Office of Public Information of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society
(This Statement was posted on the http://www.jw-media.org Website around the same time that Dateline aired [May 28th 2002])
Knowledge of Child Abuse
Progressive Understanding for Society in General
"People didn't have the body of knowledge 18 or 20 years ago to say that this is something that will harm your child emotionally, if you don't address it. Parents didn't know the seriousness ... and the long-term effects."
Dr. Gail Bethea-Jackson, LCSW-C, B.C.D., specializing in victimization, children and adolescent issues, and post-traumatic stress disorder
Media professionals are invited to contact:
Office of Public Information
Telephone: (718) 560-5600
FAX: (718) 560-5619
Quote from the Statement that was Faxed from J.R. Brown to Betsan Powys (BBC Panorama Reporter) on May 9th 2002, and was Posted on the Official Watchtower Society Media Website at http://www.jw-media.org around the same time the BBC Panorama Program aired:
No human organization is perfect. But we do believe that we have a strong, Bible-based policy on child abuse.
NEW YORK TIMES Newspaper - Sunday, August 11th 2002 Edition:
Ousted Members Contend Jehovah's Witnesses' Abuse Policy Hides Offenses
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
J. R. Brown, director of the public information office at church headquarters, the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, in Brooklyn, said the church had exemplary policies for handling sexual abuse, which were based on biblical standards and had been widely published in church magazines. "...if you take what our policy is for keeping our organization clean morally, it far outpaces anybody else's."
An Unlikely David: Barbara Anderson's struggle to stop predatory pedophiles in the cloistered world of Jehovah's Witnesses - September 3rd 2002:
By Michael Morris
Parents of most denominations would not hesitate to call police first when sexual abuse of their child is reported. But to the Witnesses, all outsiders - even police and social workers -- are co-conspirators with Satan, part of the condemned world soon to be destroyed by God. As a Witness, when dealing with any wrongdoing "you go to elders first, and then elders make the decision for where you go [from there]. To bypass the organization would be treason," said [Barbara] Anderson.
Seattle Times Newspaper - September 6th 2002:
'Silentlambs' speak out about sex abuse
By Christine Clarridge, Seattle Times staff reporter
"...if you take what our policy is for keeping our organization clean morally, it far outpaces anybody else's," spokesman J.R. Brown said.
Associated Press (AP) News Story - September 26th 2002:
Watchtower spokesman J.R. Brown defended Jehovah's Witnesses' policies.
"Clearly, with us having 95,000 congregations around the world and three to five to six elders in each, mistakes may have been made," he said. "But that does not mean that we don't have a strong and aggressive policy that shows we abhor child molestation."
Below are Quotes from Watchtower Society Publications which condemn and criticize the Catholic Church (and other Churches) for covering up pedophiles:
The Watchtower, August 15th 1958 Issue, Page 511:
Dilemma of the Confessional
SUPPOSE you had a dear friend who was soon to be hanged for a murder he was innocent of, convicted upon perjured and circumstantial evidence. Then suppose the murderer came to you and confessed his guilt. Would you not immediately notify the police so that your innocent friend would not need to die? Of course you would! But if you were a Roman Catholic priest, and this man had confessed to you, you would have to stand helplessly by as your dear friend died for a murder he did not commit. Fantastic? Not according to Catholic theologians.
Thus the Catholic Herald, London, England, May 9, 1952, in its question column published the following: “Can the seal of confession be broken by a priest in the interests of justice, e.g., in such a grave matter as murder? No. Nothing whatever, except the consent of the penitent (which he can never be obliged to give), can release a priest from the seal. . . . even if the circumstances were such that the priest thought it the criminal’s duty to give himself up—even to save an innocent life—the priest himself could never make use of knowledge which does not belong to him at all, but only to God.”
Two actual incidents illustrate the foregoing: “Returns Bank Loot, Won’t Bare Thief. Priest’s Lips Sealed. . . . part of the money taken by a repentant bank robber has been returned by a Denver priest to whom he confessed, but authorities still don’t know his identity. The Roman Catholic priest, with a ‘sacred obligation’ to reveal nothing heard in the confessional, yesterday returned to authorities $6,850 in bills he said was part of $7,780 taken in a daylight robbery here Feb. 17. . . . The United States attorney said the priest promised to relay a message that partial return of the money would not absolve the robber of ‘criminal responsibility.’ ‘I hope now that he will decide to clear his conscience entirely by coming to the proper authorities,’ said [attorney] Kelley.”—Los Angeles Herald & Express, April 13, 1955.
The second incident was reported by The Inland Register, a Spokane, Washington, Roman Catholic weekly, August 14, 1953. It told of an item that appeared in the London Times regarding a priest to whom a certain convict, thinking he was dying, confessed as having committed the crime for which another man was serving a sentence. The convict recovered, but upon his death, a year later, the priest revealed his confession, causing the innocent man to be set free. It was pointed out that even death does not free a priest from his seal, and that if true, this was perhaps the first time in history in which a priest broke his seal and revealed what had been told him in a confession.
Look out: perhaps there may be some man that will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.--Col. 2:8.
The Watchtower, January 1st 1979 Issue, Page 32:
From Seminary to 'Pioneering'
I came from a very Catholic family and was sent to study for the priesthood. In the seminary we took certain oaths of chastity, poverty and humility but I noticed that these did not mean much and that many were homosexuals. When one man tried to abuse me, I left the seminary. Then I began to live a very dissolute life. I was in a Latin-American country and became a smuggler of drugs, liquor, tobacco and arms. I was in prison various times. Finally, in Puerto Rico I set up a business and tried to change my life, but due to drunkenness I went bankrupt. Finally, in a very decrepit state I called on God for help. I asked a Pentecostal man to help, but he just told me to come to his church and receive the holy spirit.
AWAKE!, June 8th 1979 Issue, Page 30:
Watching the World
Fraud by Church-run Child Charities
Are church-run child-care agencies free of the greed and abuse that often characterize secular agencies? New York magazine answers that audits, investigations, and analyses of [all] agencies reimbursement records on file with the [New York] Department of Social Services, Special Services for Children, show a system of pervasive mismanagement and greed. The audits included agencies associated with such prominent groups as Catholic Charities, the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, and the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. New York notes that some of the worst child-care agencies have gone unaudited for seven or eight years. Why? Because of the political power of the religious agencies involved, says the article.
AWAKE!, February 8th 1988 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
“At a time when our Bishops and Church leaders should be giving us guidance on sexual morality, they have let us down badly,” laments Peter Thomson, vicar of Cobham, England. How so? According to a report in the North Kent Weekly News, Thomson explained: “I am appalled that there is one London specialist who is dealing with about 20 clergymen suffering from AIDS and that Childwatch is investigating five alleged cases of clergy sexually abusing children.” He also expressed sadness over the divergence between what the Bible says and what is being taught today. In reply, “a spokesman for the Rochester Diocese said that the Church of England had a broad spectrum of priests with differing views,” the paper reported.
The Watchtower, June 15th 1988 Issue, Page 19:
We Reap What We Sow
16 Christians see proof all around them that the immoral, debauched living of this world is harmful, deadly. (Romans 1:18-32) Just in the area of sexuality alone, think of the heartache and suffering that result when there is no respect for God’s law on morality: broken homes, illegitimate pregnancies, abortions, rape, child molestation, and sexually transmitted diseases, just to list a few things. Then there are the health problems that come when the body is abused by excessive eating and drinking, and the taking of drugs for the thrill of it. Giving way to greed often results in stealing and fraud. There is hardly any violation of God’s law that does not result in some physical or emotional harm to the transgressor. It is as the apostle Paul reminded Christians: “Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a man is sowing, this he will also reap; because he who is sowing with a view to his flesh will reap corruption from his flesh, but he who is sowing with a view to the spirit will reap everlasting life from the spirit.”—Galatians 6:7, 8.
AWAKE!, October 8th 1988 Issue, Page 28:
From Our Readers
I and my friends were greatly offended by your June 22, 1987, article “Homosexuality and the Clergy.” What is the point of telling others that some clergymen, especially Catholics, are homosexuals? I am sure that the clergy of Jehovah’s Witnesses are not immune from the influence of sexual sin in our society.
I’ll admit that every priest is not a saint. But I’ll bet that the Church has a track record on fidelity to purity and the meaning of sexuality that would surprise many outsiders. As a Catholic, I at times point out errors of other religions. But I do not attack the personal integrity of their ministers. That is bigotry. -L. B., T.O.P., et al
St. Martin de Porres Dominican Community, United States
The point in telling others that some clergymen are immoral is the same point Jesus made in telling certain clergy of his time that they were “like whitewashed tombs that look handsome on the outside, but inside are full of . . . every kind of corruption. In the same way you appear to people from the outside like good honest men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” (Matthew 23:27, 28, Catholic “Jerusalem Bible”) You are correct that Jehovah’s Witnesses’ elders are not completely immune from the influence of sexual sin. But the few who err are immediately removed from office for such. On the other hand, clerical misconduct in many churches often results only in “transfer” or “treatment” unless it becomes too scandalous. This was recently illustrated in a “New York Times” article of June 12, 1988, about several priests charged with child molestation, one of whom had “been in treatment for 10 years” while still serving in parishes.—ED.
The Watchtower, December 15th 1988 Issue, Pages 21-22:
Babylon’s Harlotry Exposed
9. Revelation 14:8 shows that Babylon the Great is a fornicatrix. Her clergy have become notorious for their immoral ways. TV evangelizers have sheared their flocks of hundreds of millions of dollars, while at the same time they were committing blatant immorality. The Catholic priesthood is also much in question, as is indicated by the following report in The Beacon Journal of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, January 3, 1988: “Hundreds of children molested by Catholic priests in the United States during the past five years have suffered severe emotional trauma, say parents, psychologists, police officers and attorneys involved in the cases.” Sexual immorality has blackened the reputation of many of the clergy of Babylon the Great.
10. “The wine of the anger of her fornication,” though, has particular reference to false religion’s courting the rulers, supporting their political campaigns and wars, and compelling the people to worship some nationalistic segment of the wild beast. Politicians have often found religion to be a useful partner in gaining their ends, as can be seen in Hitler’s concordat with the Vatican in 1933 and the Spanish Civil War of 1936-39. During World War II, the clergy of Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, and other religions on both sides acted as though intoxicated by the nationalistic fervor of war. They share a heavy bloodguilt for the tens of millions of soldiers and civilians who have died in war since 1914. The clergy who supported the Fascists and the Nazis are also bloodguilty on account of the Witnesses of Jehovah, and others, who were executed or who died in concentration camps.—Jeremiah 2:34; Revelation 18:3, 24.
11. During the past 74 years, loyal anointed Christians, together with increasing numbers of the great crowd, have continued to FEAR GOD AND GIVE HIM GLORY. We have steadfastly declined to worship any nationalistic segment of the wild beast. We have refused to glorify the beast’s image—the League of Nations and the UN—for we realize that “the kingdom of our Lord [Jehovah] and of his Christ” alone can bring in true peace and security. We have been determined to observe “the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.” That endurance has its reward! Anointed Christians who “die in union with the Lord” have been counted happy, for “the things they did go right with them.” As for any of the great crowd who may die under persecutions, from illness, or by accidents, the friendship that they have cultivated with God assures them of an early resurrection into the “new earth” society. These grand prospects give powerful reason indeed for FEARING GOD AND GIVING HIM GLORY.—Revelation 11:15, 17; 12:10; 14:9-13; 21:1.
12. As the judgment proceeds, angels call for two harvestings. The first Harvester is clearly Jesus, enthroned in Kingdom glory since 1914, for he rides on a white cloud, is crowned, and is “like a son of man.” Now, in the Lord’s day, he reaps the earth, first of the remaining anointed Christians and then of the millions of the great crowd. (Compare Matthew 25:31-34; John 15:1, 5, 16.) In contrast, the second harvest is that of “the vine of the earth,” which is thrown into “the great winepress of the anger of God.” This is the judgment executed at Har–Magedon, when a wicked, tangled human society is uprooted and its poisonous fruit crushed to a pulp. May Jehovah be glorified in clearing the earth of this poisonous vine!—Revelation 14:14-20; 16:14, 16.
AWAKE!, January 22nd 1989 Issue, Pages 9-11:
Christendom Walks in the Way of Canaan
The Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church is blunt in its disapproval of homosexuality, branding it a gross sin. But in practice the church conducts a cover-up for guilty priests and even makes it possible for them to continue their sexual perversions. Certainly, Pope John Paul II had warm words for homosexuals when he declared: They are in the heart of the church.
An independent Catholic newspaper, the National Catholic Reporter, of February 27, 1987, said that homosexual clergy estimated that 50 percent of the U.S. Catholic priesthood is homosexual. This figure is contested. One psychologist, basing his statement on 1,500 interviews, says that 20 percent of the 57,000 U.S. Catholic priests are homosexual, whereas more recent reports make other therapists think the true figure today may be closer to 40 percent.
Just over a year ago, newspapers across the country were flooded with reports of sexual assaults on children by Catholic priests. The following report from the San Jose, California, Mercury News, December 30, 1987, is typical: At a time of heightened national awareness of the problems of child abuse, the Catholic Church in the United States continues to ignore and cover up cases of priests who sexually molest children, according to court records, internal church documents, civil authorities and the victims themselves.
Church officials insist that a notorious 1985 Louisiana case in which a priest molested at least 35 boys has taught them to deal firmly with the problem. But a three-month Mercury News investigation reveals that in more than 25 dioceses across the country, church officials have failed to notify authorities, transferred molesting priests to other parishes, ignored parental complaints and disregarded the potential damage to child victims. . . . Millions of dollars in damages already have been paid to victims and their families, and one 1986 church report estimated that the church's liability could reach $1 billion over the next decade.
The notorious 1985 Louisiana case mentioned in the Mercury News report concerned a priest named Gilbert Gauthe. There has been a payment of $12 million to his victims. The homosexual activities of Gauthe were known for many years, but the diocese handled the problem by transferring him from parish to parish at least three times. In one instance parents testified that Gauthe sodomized their 7-year-old son on his first day as an altar boy and for a year afterward, until the priest was transferred.
The damage to child victims was also mentioned in that report. Sometimes the damage is final. One 12-year-old boy took his life, leaving a note saying that it wasn't worth living after having been made a virtual sex slave of a Franciscan brother. Another, molested by a priest, hanged himself after telling his brother, Contact Father S. and tell him I forgive him.
Most sexual assault cases involve boys, but many girls are also victimized. As reported by the Cleveland Plain Dealer of December 19, 1987, a 16-year-old girl and her parents filed a civil suit in 1986 against seven priests for sexual molestation. She had become pregnant, and the priests urged her to get an abortion. When she refused, they arranged to send her to the Philippines to cover up her pregnancy. The church is against homosexuality and abortion but apparently not when it involves their own priests.
The newspaper reports go on and on listing many specific cases of Catholic youths sodomized by Catholic priests, of millions of dollars being paid out to settle lawsuits, of many settlements made out of court, and of insurance companies that will no longer cover diocesan personnel against molestation charges.
Thomas Fox, editor of the National Catholic Reporter, says: There has been a national cover-up of the problem for years by the bishops. Eugene Kennedy, a former priest and now psychology professor at Loyola University, says: What you see in the courts is just the tip of the iceberg. Thomas Doyle, Dominican priest and canon lawyer, declares: The sexual molesting of little boys by priests is the single most serious problem weve had to face in centuries.
The Watchtower, April 15th 1989 Issue, Pages 8-9:
The Infamous Harlot--Her Fall
“Rolling in the Mire”
13. Have the modern-day clergy “been washed clean”? Well, as an example, note the situation in Britain, once a stronghold of Protestantism. In November 1987, when Britain’s prime minister was calling on the clergy to provide moral leadership, the rector of an Anglican church was saying: “Homosexuals have got as much right to sexual expression as everybody else; we should look for the good in it and encourage fidelity [among homosexuals].” A London newspaper reported: “The homosexual practices became so rampant in one Anglican theological college that students from another college had to be forbidden by staff to visit it.” One study calculated that “in one London district, the number of clergy with homosexual leanings may be more than half the total.” And at a church synod, 95 percent of the Church of England clergy supported a motion that labeled fornication and adultery as sins, but not homosexual genital acts; such homosexual acts were said merely to fall short of the ideal. Commenting on all of this, one news writer suggested that the Church of England might well be renamed Sodom and Gomorrah. Another London newspaper declared: “The British people are appalled as they contemplate the results of a generation of permissiveness.”
14. How well the apostate clergy over the years fit the apostle Peter’s words: “The saying of the true proverb has happened to them: ‘The dog has returned to its own vomit, and the sow that was bathed to rolling in the mire’”!—2 Peter 2:22.
15. Throughout Christendom, and indeed the whole world, there is a frightful breakdown in moral values. In some societies, marriage is now regarded as unnecessary, and those who are married think marital faithfulness is unfashionable. Fewer legalize their unions, and the divorce rate soars among those who do. In the United States, divorces have more than tripled over the past 25 years to well over one million each year. During the 20-year period from 1965, divorces in Britain quadrupled, from 41,000 to 175,000. Singles prefer to cohabit with singles of either sex, and many move from partner to partner. They lament the terrible sexually transmitted diseases, outstandingly AIDS, that proliferate as a result of their immoral life-style but continue to insist on their degrading sexual practices. Christendom’s clergy have not disciplined erring church members. To the extent that they have winked at immorality, they must share responsibility for this woeful harvest.—Jeremiah 5:29-31.
16. The sorry moral state in the world empire of false religion also underscores the fact that Babylon the Great has fallen. God has judged her and has marked her for destruction. How appropriate, then, is the angel’s strong-voiced cry at Revelation 18:2: “She has fallen! Babylon the Great has fallen, and she has become a dwelling place of demons and a lurking place of every unclean exhalation and a lurking place of every unclean and hated bird!” And how important that all who want to survive the world’s end act now in answering the call in verse 4: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues”! Getting out of false religion is a vital step toward surviving “the great tribulation” just ahead. (Revelation 7:14)
AWAKE!, July 8th 1989 Issue, Page 25:
Who Are the Real Evildoers?
But what happened to the priest who had exploited this lie? The same day that the denial was published, he was questioned on television. The subject? He had been caught trying to smuggle 46 pounds [21 kg] of cocaine to Spain. It was not his first offense. He confessed to getting involved in drug smuggling first in 1984 through his contacts with an ex-priest who was also a drug trafficker. The report in the magazine Auténtico stated that the police were afraid the priest would be freed and would flee the country as the other priest did, who “was permitted to escape to a house he bought in Miami [Florida, U.S.A.] with the drug money.”
What did the archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Lebrún, have to say about his criminal priest? “It is my duty to state that father José Luis Gil is not an evildoer.” However, the law’s definition of an evildoer differs from that of the archbishop, and the priest was sentenced to 20 years in prison. The Bible also has a clear definition of an evildoer: “You know perfectly well that people who do wrong will not inherit the kingdom of God: people of immoral lives, . . . thieves, usurers, . . . and swindlers will never inherit the kingdom of God.” “None of you should ever deserve to suffer for being a murderer, a thief, a criminal.”—1 Corinthians 6:9, 10; 1 Peter 4:15; The Jerusalem Bible (Catholic).
When a priest commits a crime, he is usually transferred to another parish, as has occurred in recent cases of priestly child molesters in the United States. The Biblical norm for unrepentant, unchanged, immoral persons is disfellowshipping, or excommunication. Only in that way can the Christian congregation remain free of willful evildoers.—1 Corinthians 5:11, 12.
Live Forever in Paradise on Earth Book (1989), Pages 187-188:
If church members who gamble, get drunk or do other wrongs are permitted to remain in good standing within their church, what does this show? It is evidence that their religious organization is not approved by God.--1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
AWAKE!, November 8th 1989 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
CHURCH SEX SCANDAL
For years, Roman Catholic priests and other church workers in Newfoundland parishes had repeatedly abused dozens of children, most of them young boys, many of them orphans in the care of their attackers, reports Canadas newsmagazine Macleans. Nor is the scandal limited to Newfoundland: at least six more cases of sexual abuse of children by Catholic churchmen have turned up elsewhere in Canada, and more than 20 in the United States. With reports of sexual abuse mounting each month-a total of 17 priests and others affiliated with the church have already been charged-faith and trust of many Catholics in their priests have been shaken. Most disturbing is the accusation that sexual abuse in the church not only has been long-standing but has usually been covered up and the offending priest simply moved to another parish where new offenses were sometimes committed. Parents have reacted by refusing to allow their sons to become altar boys or even to permit their children to enter a confessional. The Roman collar, once worn with pride, has become a source of embarrassment and suspicion, says Paul Stapleton, vice-chairman of the St. John's Catholic school board. The recent events put all priests under a cloud of spoken or silent suspicion. The message seems to be: You cannot trust anyone but yourself and God.
The Watchtower, February 1st 1990 Issue, Page 25:
Exposing "the Man of Lawlessness"
19: The worldliness of some clergy has even been exposed in the media in recent times, as for example the licentious and luxurious life-styles of some TV clergymen. One modern songwriter composed a song with the title: Would Jesus Wear a [$10,000] Rolex [watch] on His Television Show? The song goes on to say: Would Jesus be political if He came back to earth, have His second home in [luxurious] Palm Springs and try to hide His worth? In addition, more and more clergymen condone or practice homosexuality. Even now the Catholic Church in the United States is paying millions of dollars in damages to compensate for priests guilty of sexual abuse of children. Romans 1:24-27; 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
20: Such wrongdoing cannot be ignored by God's servants but must be exposed for the benefit of others. The great crowd of other sheep must be protected from those who would try to lead them to break God's laws. And those sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done need to be searched out and gathered to the protective guidance of the Great Shepherd, Jehovah God, and the fine shepherd, Christ Jesus. Ezekiel 9:4; John 10:11; Proverbs 18:10.
21: Therefore, God’s people will not hesitate to declare his vengeance against all of Satan’s world, including its man of lawlessness, the clergy of Christendom. They will proclaim with vigor the angelic message of Revelation 14:7: “Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of the judgment by him has arrived.” And they will include in this proclamation the urgent warning of Revelation 18:4 regarding false religion: “Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and . . . receive part of her plagues.”
AWAKE!, April 22nd 1990 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
IS THERE A CURE?
The murder of three young boys, two of them sexually abused, in the Western United States has fueled a growing debate over whether habitual child molesters can be cured or not. The man charged in the murders had repeatedly been sentenced to sexual counseling for committing crimes against children. Prior to being arrested for the three murders, he had completed eight months of counseling by a psychologist who himself had spent 13 years in prison as a drug smuggler and armed robber. “Anybody can hang a shingle and call themselves a therapist,” the head of the Association for the Behavioral Treatment of Sex Abusers complains in The New York Times. The Times notes that more and more health-care professionals are concluding that “some habitual child molesters are basically incurable and should be locked up for life.”
AWAKE!, August 22nd 1990 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
CLERGY AFFAIRS WITH PARISHIONERS
A four-year study among clergy in the United States found that 1 out of every 10 parish ministers admits “having had an affair with a member of his or her congregation,” reports Ecumenical Press Service (the news service of the World Council of Churches). According to Professor Karen Lebacqz, a researcher in the study, the clergy explained that “the intimacy of counselling situations led to the sexual relationships.” She advises, therefore, that clergy counsel during the day, in an office. That way, Professor Lebacqz says, ‘some temptations for sexual involvement could be lessened.’ Furthermore, she adds that ‘counselling sessions involving more than one member of the family could also help.’
AWAKE!, September 8th 1990 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
According to The Toronto Star, the Ottawa archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada was recently ordered by the courts to pay $150,000 for failing to act on a complaint against one of its priests. The priest was accused of sexually assaulting young boys. The victims’ families “felt driven to seek a civil remedy because, having gone to the church for help after the assaults, they were shut out by officials, including the archbishop,” noted one lawyer. According to the Star, another lawyer stated that Catholic Church officials, on discovery of child-abuse complaints, have historically kept the priests in the clergy. He said: “Instead of reporting them to the police or booting them out of there like most any other institution, they have, out of loyalty to their own, just moved them around secretly.”
AWAKE!, November 8th 1990 Issue, Page 31:
'Our Shame Is Clear to the Whole World'
THE New York Times of July 20, 1990, carried a headline: Canadian Prelate Quits in Clerics Sex Scandal. What was the story? Yet another case of clergymen being accused of sexual abuse of boys. On this occasion the scandal was in the province of Newfoundland, Canada, and the clergy were Catholic. What made it different?
The Times reported: The Archbishop of Newfoundland has resigned after charges that the Roman Catholic Churchs hierarchy ignored or failed to deal effectively with three years of scandal involving allegations of sexual abuse against altar boys, orphaned youths and others by Roman Catholic priests and church laymen. First accused of gross indecency in 1979, one priest was recently sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to 36 charges!
Usually these cases are hushed up, and no significant disciplinary action is taken. Perhaps a priest is transferred to another parish or duty, where the depravity might start again. On this occasion the archbishop was moved to resign after stating: We are a sinful church. We are naked. Our anger, our pain, our anguish, our shame are clear to the whole world. Compare Revelation 17:15-18.
A judicial inquiry showed that accusations had been made over a period of 15 years, but the police and government officials failed to act decisively against the offenders. And even worse, the church hierarchy failed to act decisively. They were accused of being more concerned about the offending priests than about the victims. Yet, what does the Catholic Bible say about such immoral practices?
Regarding those who committed perversion, the New American Bible, St. Joseph Edition, states: God delivered them up in their lusts to unclean practices; they engaged in the mutual degradation of their bodies, . . . and the men gave up natural intercourse with women and burned with lust for one another. Men did shameful things with men . . . They know God's just decree that all who do such things deserve death; yet they not only do them but approve them in others. Romans 1:24-32.
What does the Catholic Bible say will happen to any such unrepentant ones? Can you not realize that the unholy will not fall heir to the kingdom of God? Do not deceive yourselves: no fornicators, . . . no sexual perverts . . . will inherit God's kingdom. Yet, for such individuals there is a Bible-based discipline: disfellowshipping from the Christian congregation, even as Paul stated: I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral persons . . . , not associating with anyone who bears the title brother if he is immoral . . . It is clear that you must not eat with such a man. . . . Expel the wicked man from your midst.1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 6:9, 10, NAB.
AWAKE!, December 8th 1990 Issue, Page 31:
"A Sexual Crisis" Among the Clergy
A SEXUAL crisis is tearing at the central nervous system of the Catholic Church, stated Jason Berry, a Louisiana author who received a Catholic Press Association award for his coverage of pedophilia in the National Catholic Reporter. Regarding perverted sexual acts against children by the clergy, Berry went on to say in The Washington Post: Since 1985, scores of pedophilia cases involving priests or brothers have been recorded throughout America and Canada. As a result, U.S. dioceses have borne steep losses in law suits, and insurance coverage for such actions has evaporated. These changes have arrived amid a number of reports that as many as 10 to 20 percent of U.S. priests may be homosexually active.
The Providence Sunday Journal of Rhode Island states: Bishops in 29 states . . . have faced claims of damages by victims of sex abuse by Catholic clergy, and the Church has paid at least $60 million so far in judgments and settlements. In Louisiana a priest admitted to molesting 35 boys and was sentenced to 20 years in prison, although, the Journal says, it was clear that he had assaulted at least 75 children over 10 years. And a Rhode Island priest pleaded guilty to 26 counts of sex abuse involving young boys.
An investigation of Covenant House, a shelter for runaway youths in New York City, revealed that the priest in charge had engaged in sexual misconduct with a number of young men and boys. And the Roman Catholic archbishop of Atlanta resigned after it was acknowledged that he had carried on a two-year sexual relationship with an unmarried mother.
A conference of U.S. Catholic bishops received a report on the catastrophe of priest pedophile litigation. The 100-page report, states the Journal, detailed a strategy for limiting the Church's liability from civil lawsuits to $1 billion [$1,000 million] based on the 30 suits then pending. The lawsuits are being brought by the Catholic parents of the children involved. And psychiatrists who treat the young victims of these crimes report long-term, often permanent, damage.
God's Word speaks of such disgraceful sexual appetites by which males are inflamed in their lust toward one another, males with males, working what is obscene, and adds that the righteous decree of God is that those practicing such things are deserving of death.--Romans 1:26, 27, 32; see also 1 Corinthians 6:9, 10.
The Watchtower, December 15th 1990 Issue, Page 21:
Insight on the News
Forbidden to Marry
Described by one Lutheran bishop as “a hidden problem for generations,” sexual misconduct by the clergy has finally ‘come out of the closet.’ However, the Los Angeles Times reports that along with it have come “embarrassing public disclosures and costly lawsuits that have forced several churches into bankruptcy.” The Times notes that insurance agents say that pending in the courts are as many as 2,000 sexual abuse cases involving the clergy.
It is also noteworthy that some of the most notorious offenders are reportedly Roman Catholic clergymen. A. W. Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and former Benedictine monk, has conducted interviews with 1,000 priests and 500 other men and women, many of the latter claiming to have participated in sexual activity with members of the clergy. Time magazine reports that he estimates that approximately half of the 53,000 Roman Catholic priests in the United States are breaking their vow of celibacy. According to Sipe, about 28 percent of all priests have ongoing relationships with women, while, in addition, from 10 to 13 percent are sexually involved with adult men, and 6 percent pursue children for sex, usually boys. More than 100 settlements for clergy misconduct within the last six years have cost Catholic authorities between 100 million and 300 million dollars.
Many people feel that most of these problems would be eliminated if priests were allowed to marry. Some may be shocked to learn that nowhere does the Bible prohibit Christian ministers of God from marrying. The Catholic Church, however, has forbidden priests to marry since the 12th century. Interestingly, when referring to the great apostasy from true worship that would set in after the death of the apostles, Paul wrote that “some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to misleading inspired utterances and teachings of demons, by the hypocrisy of men who speak lies, . . . forbidding to marry.”—1 Timothy 4:1-3.
AWAKE!, April 22nd 1991 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
According to the National Catholic Reporter, the government of Newfoundland has promised to make financial restitution to the victims of childhood sexual abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage. In 1975 the police first investigated charges that some of the Christian Brothers who operated the orphanage were physically and sexually abusing the boys there. The investigation was dropped, and no arrests were made after two of those accused agreed to leave Newfoundland and three others left the orphanage. In 1989, however, the investigation was reopened; eight Christian Brothers now stand accused of child abuse. (See Awake! of November 8, 1990, page 31.) Attorney General Paul Dicks declared that the government failed in its duty to protect the abused orphans and will make restitution where appropriate. He insisted, though, that the primary responsibility to make amends lies with the Christian Brothers and their employers.
AWAKE!, August 22nd 1991 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
Shielding Pedophile Priests?
Some dioceses still shield priests accused of pedophilia, ran a recent headline in the U.S. newspaper National Catholic Reporter. The newspaper interviewed Jeffrey Anderson, a lawyer who specializes in cases of sexual abuse. He estimates that since 1985, when priestly pedophilia came under increased public scrutiny, there have been over a thousand cases in which priests molested children. Anderson had some harsh words for the church's response to the ongoing crisis: It is a continuing saga of avoiding responsibility, he charges, decrying the church's focus on protecting the accused clerics. As a general rule, the institutional response of the church has been willfully inadequate both in tending to victims and dealing with risks.
AWAKE!, October 22nd 1991 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
The Price of Celibacy
Forcing priests to remain single leads to paternity suits, to mistresses, to increased levels of homosexual activity among clergy and seminarians, to loneliness and in some cases to pedophilia. That, according to the National Catholic Reporter, is the substance of a warning that Joe Sternak, a former Catholic priest of the Chicago archdiocese in the United States, issued on the subject of celibacy at a recent annual conference. Sternak, who is currently writing a book on pedophilia, charges that dioceses in over 20 states use church donations to pay for lawsuits and out-of-court settlements in cases of priestly sexual abuse of children.
AWAKE!, May 8th 1992 Issue, Pages 26-27:
The Bible’s Viewpoint
What Should Be Done if a Minister Sins?
MISCONDUCT by religious leaders is catching the public eye today as never before. Protestants have been embarrassed by the scandalous conduct of TV ministers. After one televangelist was recently caught with a prostitute for the second time in three years, he informed his followers that God told him that his behavior was nobody’s business but his own.
Reporting on a 25-year study, Time magazine said: “A former Benedictine monk . . . estimates that half the 53,000 Roman Catholic priests in the U.S. are breaking their vow of celibacy.” Also, a 1990 news report about a number of Canadian priests convicted of sexually abusing children says: “Church leaders had either ignored, dismissed or responded ineffectively to complaints of sexual abuse, even though they had received such complaints from victims, parishioners, police, social workers and other priests.”
“Until recently,” said Time, “erring priests were simply shuttled from parish to parish.” But now that lawsuits filed by victims of priestly misconduct have reached $300 million in the United States, priests are often given psychiatric therapy before returning to religious duty.
What should be done if a minister, a priest, or an elder sins? What guidance does the Bible provide on how to handle such sad misconduct? Let us examine two key Bible texts--Titus 1:7 and 1 Timothy 3:2.
Must Be “Free From Accusation”
The Bible says: “An overseer [“bishop,” The New American Bible (Catholic translation)] must be free from accusation as God’s steward.” (Titus 1:7) Paul gave this command to Titus when assigning him to appoint elders in the congregations of Crete. However, what did the apostle mean?
The expression “free from accusation” is rendered from the Greek word a·neg´kle·tos. Commenting on this word, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology states: “Anenkletos belongs to the legal setting of accusation in court, and connotes behaviour which is irreproachable, against which no accusation can be made.” Thus, a man’s record must be clean before he is appointed an elder; he could not be under reproach, or subject to accusation. And only if he remained free from legitimate accusation could an elder continue in office.--Compare 1 Timothy 3:10.
Not only is an elder to provide leadership in the congregation but he is also to serve the congregation. He has to answer for his stewardship. He is God’s steward; he shepherds God’s little sheep. Thus, he is answerable foremost to the Owner of the flock, Jehovah, and then to the people over whom God gave him the responsibility of oversight.--1 Peter 5:2, 3.
Must Be “Irreprehensible”
The Bible says: “The overseer [“bishop,” NAB] should therefore be irreprehensible.” (1 Timothy 3:2) The Greek word a·ne·pi´lem·ptos is rendered “irreprehensible” and literally means “not to be laid hold of.” In other words an overseer’s life should afford nothing that an accuser can take hold of and use against him. Expanding on the meaning of that Greek word, the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament says that an overseer “cannot be attacked (even by non-Christians) because of his moral conduct.”
God sets high standards for those who oversee his people and teach his Word. James said of himself and other elders: “We shall receive heavier judgment.” And Jesus stated this guiding principle: “The one whom people put in charge of much, they will demand more than usual of him.”--James 3:1; Luke 12:48.
Therefore, if a Christian overseer sins flagrantly but repents, he might remain a member of the congregation, but he should be removed from his office of overseer. He is no longer irreprehensible. It might take years for him to reestablish a fine reputation so as to be free from accusation again. His case may be likened to that of Hezekiah’s steward, Shebna. For his misconduct Jehovah rebuked him with the words: “I will push you away from your position; and from your official standing one will tear you down.” But later Shebna must have regained his fine reputation because we read that he was again in the king’s service as secretary.--Isaiah 22:15-22; 36:3.
What if a Minister Is Not Repentant?
Many religions of Christendom have tolerated ministers who practice sin. Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia became papal vice-chancellor, the highest administrative office in the Catholic Curia. For his notorious immorality, he was rebuked by Pope Pius II. Yet, even though he had fathered four illegitimate children, in 1492 the college of cardinals elected him to the papal throne! He continued his scandalous career as Pope Alexander VI. The toleration of unrepentant, debauched ministers throughout Christendom’s history has undoubtedly contributed to the corruption that we see in her today. What, then, is to be done if a minister is not repentant?
A Christian minister who practices serious sin and fails to provide evidence of repentance should be expelled from the congregation. The apostle Paul wrote: “Quit mixing in company with anyone called a brother that is a fornicator or a greedy person or an idolater or a reviler or a drunkard or an extortioner, not even eating with such a man. . . . ‘Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.’”--1 Corinthians 5:11-13.
Firm action protects the reputation of the congregation and sets it apart from those who ‘publicly declare they know God but who disown him by their works.’ The way a religion handles the problem of a minister who sins will help you to recognize if that religion is truly Christian.--Titus 1:16; Matthew 7:15, 16.
AWAKE!, August 8th 1992 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
The Clergy and Sexual Abuse
Australian National Television recently broadcast a documentary entitled “The Ultimate Betrayal.” The program claimed that 15 percent of clergymen in Australia had committed sexual offenses, ranging from the molestation of children to the rape of women parishioners. Within hours of the television program, various centers set up to handle complaints of sexual assault were inundated with telephone calls from alleged victims. Many callers said they had kept their experience secret for many years. One woman said that she was speaking about her ordeal as a child for the first time in 40 years! Another said that after her clergyman had sexually abused her as a child, he threatened her with hellfire punishment if she dared to tell anyone. Spokesmen for various church groups disagreed with the 15-percent figure but did admit that the sexual misconduct of clergymen was a serious problem.
AWAKE!, August 22nd 1992 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
“A flurry of child sex-abuse scandals has drawn the Roman Catholic Church into a far-ranging investigation of pedophile priests—a phenomenon critics say the church hierarchy has long kept muffled,” reports The Herald-News of Joliet, Illinois, U.S.A. “In the past nine months, seven priests in the Chicago area have been removed from parishes and one has been indicted because of sexual mistreatment complaints involving children.” A three-member commission has been appointed by cardinal Joseph Bernardin to decide how to deal with the problem that, according to a church spokesman, “is a lot deeper than anybody thought” and that is estimated to involve hundreds of priests nationwide. Efforts are now being made to root out the errant priests, who were formerly reassigned to different parishes. Some people, though, still have misgivings. “They don’t understand the psychological depth of the injury when people are injured by someone who represents the church, which we believe has formulated our values, morals and principles,” said the mother of one abused child.
AWAKE!, March 8th 1993 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
Dark Side of United Church
“Most of us come from a rather naive assumption that such things as sex abuse would not occur in the church and would never be committed by clergy,” said United Church minister Sylvia Hamilton. However, Hamilton suggests that “it is a major problem.” According to Canada’s Toronto Star, sexual abuse “ranging from jokes to forced sexual activities—is as prevalent, if not more prevalent, in the church as in society as a whole.” Peter Lougheed, a United Church task-group member, confessed that “the church is a less safe place for the parishioner and for women than the secular workplace.” The Star report adds: “After years of denial and cover-up, the problem is only now percolating to the surface like bubbles in a swamp.”
AWAKE!, April 8th 1993 Issue, Page 31:
Victims of Pedophile Priests Speak Out
DURING the past decade, some 400 Roman Catholic priests have been reported to church or civil authorities for sexual abuse of children, according to U.S. News & World Report. Recently, a national gathering of survivors of such abuse was held near Chicago, Illinois. Many spoke openly of how they had been victimized by pedophile priests.
But NCR (National Catholic Reporter) notes that speakers sounded another theme repeatedly throughout the conference: The first abuse is sexual; the second and more painful, is psychological. This second abuse occurs when the church refuses to listen to victims of abuse, fails to take their accusations seriously, and moves only to protect the offending priests. Fairly or unfairly, NCR reports, they portrayed Catholic clergy as belonging to an unhealthy and misguided group more bent on preserving privilege and power than in serving lay needs. Several speakers made ominous comparisons to the Reformation, which split the church wide open in the 16th century.
According to Richard Sipe, a former priest turned psychotherapist and expert on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, all this institutional denial reveals a deep, desperate and knowing personal involvement in the problem. He added: The church knows and has known for a long time a great deal about the sexual activity of its priests. It has looked the other way, tolerated, covered up and simply lied about the broad spectrum of sexual activity of its priests.
Not surprisingly, then, many abuse survivors are suing the church. NCR quotes one attorney who specializes in such cases as saying that there are pedophile-priest cases in each of the church's 188 dioceses in the United States . He says that out-of-court settlements have run as high as $300,000 per case. U.S. News & World Report says that such suits have already cost the church $400,000,000, a figure that could surge to $1 billion by the year 2000. And the Canadian Press reported recently that some 2,000 survivors of childhood sexual abuse in 22 church-run orphanages and mental institutions in Quebec are suing six religious orders for $1.4 billion in damages.
Interestingly, though, the aforementioned U.S. attorney, who represents 150 victims of pedophile priests in 23 states, says that he has never yet had a client who was eager to go to court. Each one first tried to seek justice within the pastoral context of the church. NCR concludes: Survivors go to the courts, it appears, not as a first resort, but as a last resort.
AWAKE!, August 8th 1993 Issue, Page 7:
Can the Churches Halt Moral Decay?
Not surprisingly, the world’s lamentable moral state has caused a backlash. Many now clamor for a return to traditional values, meaning for some a return to religion. However, the churches have a poor record in providing moral leadership. The General Assembly for the Presbyterian Church (U.S.) admitted: “We are facing a crisis terrible in its proportions and implications.” The nature of this crisis? “Between 10 and 23 percent of clergy nationwide have engaged in sexualized behavior or sexual contact with parishioners, clients, employees, etc.”
Widespread disillusionment with religion thus prevails. The president of the U.S. Business and Industrial Council summed it up when he declared: “Religious institutions have failed to transmit their historic values, and in many cases, have become part of the [moral] problem, promoting liberation theology and non-judgmental views of human behavior.”
It is clear, then, that the uninstructed human conscience is not sufficient to guide mankind. Today’s morals are drifting toward nothing less than total moral collapse. We need a guide that comes from someone higher than ourselves.—Compare Proverbs 14:12; Jeremiah 10:23.
Such a guide exists. It is accessible to all who want it.
AWAKE!, October 8th 1993 Issue, Pages 5-6:
Tragically, adult society often unwittingly collaborates with child abusers. How so? By refusing to be aware of this danger, by fostering a hush-hush attitude about it, by believing oft-repeated myths. Ignorance, misinformation, and silence give safe haven to abusers, not their victims.
For example, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded recently that it was a "general conspiracy of silence" that allowed gross child abuse to persist among the Catholic clergy for decades. Time magazine, in reporting on the widespread plague of incest, also cited a "conspiracy of silence" as a factor that "only helps perpetuate the tragedy" in families.
However, Time noted that this conspiracy is crumbling at last. Why? In a word, education. It is as Asiaweek magazine put it: "All experts agree that the best defence against child abuse is public awareness." To defend their children, parents must understand the realities of the threat. Don't be left in the dark by misconceptions that protect child abusers and not children.
AWAKE!, November 8th 1993 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
Trouble in the Churches
The problem of sexual abuse in the church is not going to go away, reports The Toronto Star. Sexual scandals among church leaders are widespread. They are not limited to television evangelists and the Catholic Church. Abuse also happens in the Salvation Army, in the United Church, in the Presbyterian Church, noted a Salvation Army officer. Anglican Primate Archbishop Michael Peers said that such abuse is a deep-rooted and dark problem in the church. According to the Star, Archbishop Peers admitted that in the past this church's response to charges of sexual abuse has been denial and control. Timothy Bently from the Toronto Centre for the Family reportedly stated that if the churches do not face up to what is essentially a spiritual crisis openly and honestly their authority to preach on sexual ethics will crumble.
AWAKE!, January 8th 1994 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
Church Insurance Against Abuse Claims
The Australian Catholic Church has taken out a multimillion dollar insurance policy to protect itself against claims of sexual abuse by priests, reports The Sunday Telegraph of Sydney, New South Wales. We admit it goes on, said a Catholic bishop in Melbourne, Australia. He asserts that such extensive insurance coverage is normal for that kind of offence. According to a support group for the victims, sexual abuse by the clergy is more widespread than the church admits. A spokesman for the group said he believes the church's focus is more on protecting the clergy than helping the victims. He added that the message at the very core of the church's documents is, don't tell the truth.
AWAKE!, March 8th 1994 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
More Victims Sue Church
Victims of sexual abuse in Australian religious institutions run by Catholic brothers are banding together to take what The Canberra Times describes as one of the biggest class actions in Australian legal history. An application to allow more than 250 writs to be lodged for compensation was filed recently by an organization representing former child victims. The abuse is alleged to have occurred from the 1940s right up until the 1980s, and the main defendants cited in the writs include several Catholic archdioceses. One Marist brother has already been convicted of sexual assault. The lawyer representing the victim in this case said: We're facing the tip of the iceberg. There's a deluge of actions likely to occur in the next few years. All religious institutions would need to be concerned.
The Watchtower, August 15th 1994 Issue, Pages 11-12:
Contrast With Christendom’s Clergy
3. In stark contrast, news reports have time and again revealed many of the clergy in some lands to be pedophiles, immoral swindlers, and frauds. Their works of the flesh and their extravagant life-styles are manifest for all to see. One popular songwriter expressed it well in his song entitled “Would Jesus Wear a Rolex [a very expensive gold watch] on His Television Show?” He asks the question: “Would Jesus be political if He came back to Earth? Have His second home in Palm Springs [a wealthy California community] and try to hide His worth?” How appropriate are the words of James: “You have lived in luxury upon the earth and have gone in for sensual pleasure. You have fattened your hearts on the day of slaughter.”—James 5:5; Galatians 5:19-21.
4. The clergy’s hobnobbing with politicians and even participating in elections as political candidates show them up as modern-day scribes and Pharisees. At the same time, in countries such as the United States and Canada, religion’s coffers are being drained by the high costs of litigation and judgments against clergy, resulting from their licentious conduct with children and adults.—Matthew 23:1-3.
5. Correctly, Jesus could say to the clergy of his day: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you resemble whitewashed graves, which outwardly indeed appear beautiful but inside are full of dead men’s bones and of every sort of uncleanness. In that way you also, outwardly indeed, appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Thus, God has not given to Christendom’s clergy, whether Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox, or nondenominational, the commission to preach the good news. They have not proved to be the foretold “faithful and discreet slave.”—Matthew 23:27, 28; 24:45-47.
AWAKE!, September 8th 1994 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
Abuse by Clergy Exposed
One of Canada's largest sexual abuse investigations involving Catholic Christian Brothers has been finalized. More than 700 victims have come forward from St. Joseph's school in Alfred, Ontario, and St. John's school in Uxbridge, Ontario, reports The Toronto Star. Complaints were lodged against 30 men, including 29 members of the Brothers of the Christian Schools. Charges would have been laid against another 16 if they were still alive, adds the Star. The victims still experience disturbing recollections of childhood beatings and sexual attacks by the black-robed members of the Roman Catholic lay order into whose care they had been entrusted. The Star says that without a public inquiry, Canadians may never learn why men who claim to serve God subject young boys to sexual abuse.
The Watchtower, December 1st 1994 Issue, Page 6:
Christendom’s Denial of God
The most shocking denial of God’s authority comes from Christendom’s clergy, who have substituted man-made traditions for pure Bible truths. (Compare Matthew 15:9.) Additionally, they have backed the bloodiest wars of the 20th century, thus rejecting the Biblical command to display genuine love.—John 13:35.
The clergy have also denied God by turning their backs on his moral standards—as evidenced, for example, by a steady stream of lawsuits against pedophile priests. The situation of Christendom resembles that of ancient Israel and Judah. “The land is filled with bloodshed and the city is full of crookedness,” the prophet Ezekiel was told, “for they have said, ‘Jehovah has left the land, and Jehovah is not seeing.’” (Ezekiel 9:9; compare Isaiah 29:15.) Little wonder that many have abandoned Christendom’s churches altogether! But must they abandon belief in God?
AWAKE!, February 8th 1995 Issue, Page 17:
The Moral Issue
Scientists may never resolve exactly how much of a role nature and nurture play in same-sex attraction. But one thing is clear: All humans are born with the tendency to succumb to wrong thinking and inclinations.—Romans 3:23.
A youth who desires to please God must therefore conform to His moral standards and shun immoral behavior, though doing so may be agonizingly difficult. True, some individuals may very well be prone to homosexuality, just as some individuals are, according to the Bible, “prone to wrath.” (Titus 1:7) But the Bible still condemns displays of unrighteous anger. (Ephesians 4:31) Similarly, a Christian cannot excuse immoral behavior by saying he was ‘born that way.’ Child molesters invoke the same pathetic excuse when they say their craving for children is “innate.” But can anyone deny that their sexual appetite is perverted?
AWAKE!, January 22nd 1996 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
The tiny town of Chesterfield Inlet on the Hudson Bay in Canada s Northwest Territories has been rocked by charges of widespread abuse of schoolchildren. According to Macleans magazine, an independent report recently released by the government found incidents of sexual and physical abuse of native Inuit children over a 17-year period in the 1950s and 1960s at the Sir Joseph Bernier Federal Day School and at an adjacent residence run by the Catholic Church. The police completed a 21-month investigation into 236 allegations of abuse and decided not to lay charges-in some cases because the statute of limitations had expired; in others because the alleged perpetrators were elderly or even dead; in others because some former students could not identify the offenders with certainty. Noted Macleans: Although the passage of time has clearly made punishing alleged offenders more difficult, it has not erased the pain of the victims.
AWAKE!, April 8th 1996 Issue, Pages 6-8:
Why Is the Church Losing Influence?
Do Clergymen Practice What They Preach?
The enormous wealth of the Catholic Church has always been an embarrassment to priests who work in impoverished parishes. It was even more embarrassing when the Vatican Bank was implicated in what Time magazine called “the worst financial scandal in postwar Italy.” In 1987, warrants were issued by Italian magistrates for the arrest of an archbishop and two other Vatican bank officials. Because of the Vatican’s special sovereign status, however, the accused churchmen avoided arrest. The Vatican Bank insisted that no wrongdoing had been committed but failed to erase the impression that the church was not practicing what it preaches.—Compare Matthew 23:3.
Highly publicized sexual misconduct has done even more damage. In May 1992 an Irish bishop, well-known for his endorsement of celibacy, asked his diocese to “forgive him” and “pray for him.” He was forced to resign after it came to light that he was the father of a 17-year-old boy and had used church funds to pay for his education. A month earlier a Catholic priest appeared on German television with his “companion” and their two children. He said he wished to “open a dialogue” on the matter of the clandestine liaisons that so many priests maintain.
The scandals inevitably leave their mark. Historian Guerri, in his book Gli italiani sotto la Chiesa (The Italians Under the Church), asserts that “for centuries the Church has scandalized Italians.” One result, he says, is the “development of widespread anticlericalism, even among the faithful.” Indignant Catholics may feel tempted to ask their clergy the same questions the apostle Paul put to the Romans: “You preach against stealing, for example, but are you sure of your own honesty? You denounce the practice of adultery, but are you sure of your own purity?”—Romans 2:21, 22, Phillips.
The Watchtower, April 15th 1996 Issue, Pages 14-15:
16. What did Jesus say about the Jewish clergy of his day? “The scribes and the Pharisees have seated themselves in the seat of Moses [to teach the Torah, the Law]. Therefore all the things they tell you, do and observe, but do not do according to their deeds, for they say but do not perform.” Yes, religious hypocrisy is nothing new.—Matthew 23:2, 3.
17. The fruitage of false religion condemns it. The rule given by Jesus is so applicable: “Every good tree produces fine fruit, but every rotten tree produces worthless fruit; a good tree cannot bear worthless fruit, neither can a rotten tree produce fine fruit. Every tree not producing fine fruit gets cut down and thrown into the fire. Really, then, by their fruits you will recognize those men.” —Matthew 7:17-20.
18. If the religions of Christendom were conscientiously to apply the Christian discipline of disfellowshipping, or excommunication, for all the lawless acts committed by those claiming to be its members, what would happen? What would happen to all the unrepentant liars, fornicators, adulterers, homosexuals, swindlers, criminals, drug peddlers and addicts, and members of organized crime? Unquestionably, Christendom’s rotten fruitage makes it fit only for destruction by God.—1 Corinthians 5:9-13; 2 John 10, 11.
19. The general assembly for the Presbyterian Church in the United States admitted: “We are facing a crisis terrible in its proportions and implications. . . . Between 10 and 23 percent of clergy nationwide have engaged in sexualized behavior or sexual contact with parishioners, clients, employees, etc.” A U.S. businessman summed up the point quite well: “Religious institutions have failed to transmit their historic values, and in many cases, have become part of the problem.”
20. Jesus’ denunciation of religious hypocrisy holds true today as it did in his time: “You hypocrites, Isaiah aptly prophesied about you, when he said, ‘This people honors me with their lips, yet their heart is far removed from me. It is in vain that they keep worshiping me, because they teach commands of men as doctrines.’” (Matthew 15:7-9) Paul’s words to Titus also describe our modern situation: “They publicly declare they know God, but they disown him by their works, because they are detestable and disobedient and not approved for good work of any sort.”—Titus 1:16.
21. Jesus said that if a blind man guides a blind man, both fall into the pit. (Matthew 15:14) Do you want to come to an end with Babylon the Great? Or do you want to walk in straight paths with your eyes open and enjoy Jehovah’s blessing? The questions that now confront us are: Which religion, if any, produces godly fruitage? How can we identify the true worship acceptable to God?—Psalm 119:105.
The Watchtower, July 1st 1996 Issue, Page 7:
How Does God View Christendom's Worship?
No doubt, many priests live morally chaste lives, but a large number do not. According to the 1992 Britannica Book of the Year, the Roman Catholic Church was reported to have paid out $300 million to settle cases of clergy sexual abuse.
“The Church Leader Should Be Without Fault”
THIS expression is from Titus 1:7, according to Today’s English Version. The King James Version reads: “A bishop must be blameless.” The word “bishop” comes from a Greek word meaning “overseer.” Thus men who are appointed to take the lead in the true Christian congregation must live up to basic Bible standards. If they do not, they must be removed from their position of oversight, since they are no longer “examples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:2, 3) How seriously is this requirement taken by Christendom’s churches?
In his book I Care About Your Marriage, Dr. Everett Worthington refers to a survey of 100 pastors in the state of Virginia, U.S.A. Over 40 percent admitted to having engaged in some form of passion-arousing conduct with someone who was not their marriage partner. A large number of them had committed adultery.
“Over the past decade,” observes Christianity Today, “the church has been repeatedly staggered by revelations of immoral conduct by some of its most respected leaders.” The article “Why Adulterous Pastors Should Not Be Restored” challenged the common practice in Christendom of quickly restoring church leaders to their former positions after they have been “convicted of sexual sin.”
Lasting Peace Brochure (1996), Page6:
5. Additionally, are the religious leaders and their flocks known for their adherence to high moral standards? Has not the media repeatedly exposed and reported on cases of child molestation and other corrupt practices among the clergy of Christendom? Some of the clergy openly support homosexuality and premarital and extramarital sex.
AWAKE!, April 8th 1997 Issue, Pages 13-14:
Sexual Exploitation of Children - A Worldwide Problem
A delegate of the Roman Catholic Church at the Stockholm congress declared that exploitation of children is the most heinous of crimes and a result of profound distortion and the breakdowns of values. Yet, the Catholic Church has been severely affected by such practices among its own clergy.
In the August 16, 1993, issue of Newsweek, an article entitled Priests and Abuse reported on the worst clerical scandal in the modern history of the U.S. Catholic Church. It stated: While allegations have been lodged against an estimated 400 priests since 1982, some churchmen extrapolate that as many as 2,500 priests have molested children or teenagers. . . . More than money, the scandal has cost the church severe embarrassmentand some of its moral authority. Other religions throughout the world are in the same situation.
Ray Wyre, a sex-crime consultant from the United Kingdom , told the Stockholm congress about two boys who had been sadistically abused by a priest. One of the boys is now running an agency for victims of child abuse by priests, and the other is himself an abuser.
AWAKE!, June 22nd 1997 Issue, Page 29:
Watching the World
Clergy Insurance Difficulties
Most churches carry general liability insurance to protect them against personal-injury claims. However, some insurance companies in the United States have started withdrawing coverage for “sexual misconduct” of clergy, reports the National Underwriter. John Cleary, general counsel of Church Mutual Insurance Company, said: “Many . . . liability policies will exclude sexual misconduct because it’s an intentional act, it’s really a crime.” Moreover, Donald Clark, Jr., a lawyer who represents various religious groups, said that these insurance changes suggest that “the potential threat of adverse economic consequences for these types of man-made disasters are perhaps more devastating than the consequences from natural disasters.” Since 1984, Church Mutual, one of the leading church insurers in the United States, has had between 1,500 and 2,000 sexual misconduct claims, according to Mr. Cleary.
The Watchtower, March 1st 1998 Issue, Page 4:
Several prelates have followed the pope’s example. In December 1994 the Italian newspaper Il Giornale reported: “Many American bishops appeared on television and publicly asked forgiveness.” For what? For underestimating the problem of pedophile priests, to the detriment of many young victims. In January 1995 the newspaper La Repubblica reported on “a gesture unprecedented in the history of contemporary Catholicism”—the problem of Pope Pius XII’s silence in connection with the Holocaust was addressed. In January 1995 the same newspaper reported that the German episcopate asked forgiveness for the “many faults” of Roman Catholics who supported the crimes of the Nazis. Various Protestant churches have also subjected themselves to self-criticism.
The Bible encourages us to ask forgiveness when we are at fault, and many applaud the churches when they subject themselves to self-criticism. (James 5:16) But why are the churches doing this? How should it affect the way we view them?
AWAKE!, October 8th 1998 Issue, Page 28:
Watching the World
Abuse by Clergy in Africa
Clergy sex abuse cases are beginning to surface in Africa, reports the magazine Catholic International. To prevent such abuse, some Catholic bishops are recommending more rigorous screening and training of potential seminarians. Other areas of clerical misconduct that concern the African bishops include misuse of alcohol, and involvement in activities that are unbecoming or alien to the priestly state and vocation, such as business or trade, politics. Why have these cases only recently come to light? A freer press and a lessening of previous Church control over the mass media, answers Catholic International, adding that initial attempts by some Church authorities in parts of Africa to prevent unflattering news . . . have failed.
AWAKE!, April 8th 1999 Issue, Pages 6-7:
Betrayed by Those They Trusted
Betrayal of a child’s trust can leave terrible scars. This is especially true when it is a parent, friend, or mentor who betrays the child’s trust. The magnitude of child abuse by parents can be seen from the flood of phone calls received by a hot line after the broadcast of a program called “Scared Silent: Exposing and Ending Child Abuse,” which was hosted by talk-show personality Oprah Winfrey in the United States. “The most shocking crisis calls were from young children, calling in fear, wanting to escape the pain of physical or sexual abuse,” noted executive producer Arnold Shapiro, as quoted in the journal Children Today.
This event did much to dispel the notion that child abusers are big scary strangers. The fact is that “the vast majority of abuse is perpetrated by parents and other close relatives,” concludes Shapiro. Other research confirms this finding and also indicates that trusted family friends have at times groomed the child and family for later, well-planned abuse of the child. Incest is the most shocking betrayal of trust.
Sexual abuse by pedophiles is another threat to children throughout the world. Trends & Issues in Crime and Criminal Justice gives this definition: “Paedophilia refers to sexual attraction towards the very young. . . . Paedophilia invariably involves the commission of crimes such as sexual assault, indecency and offences relating to child pornography.”
Sickening reports of pedophile rings, which greedily exploit children sexually, are flooding in from all over the world. (See the box on page 7.) The victims are both young boys and young girls. Lured by unscrupulous men, they are sexually abused and then threatened or lavishly spoiled to encourage them to remain with the “club.” The men who plan and perform these vile acts are often prominent leaders of the community and sometimes do so with the full knowledge and protection of the police and the judiciary.
Sexual abuse of children by clergymen is also causing outrage. News reports from all over the world reveal the extent of child abuse by clergymen, sometimes even in the name of God. For example, a convicted Anglican priest told his ten-year-old victim that “God was speaking through him [the clergyman], and anything he did or anything [the boy] did was loved by God and therefore right.”
In Australia a review of the book The Battle and the Backlash: The Child Sexual Abuse War commented on child abuse by clergymen and others in positions of trust. It said that the organizations involved appeared to be concerned with limiting the damage to their own image and protecting themselves rather than protecting vulnerable children.
A child’s trust is usually given completely, without reservation. So if that trust is betrayed, it has a devastating impact on an unsuspecting young mind. The publication Child Abuse & Neglect notes: “Persons and places that previously signaled safety or support have become associated with danger and fear. The child’s world becomes less predictable and controllable.”
As a result of such abuse, much of which has gone on for many years, some children have developed social and psychiatric problems later in life, well into adulthood. This betrayal of trust is so damaging because a child has been taken advantage of because he or she is a child. Yet, many children who are abused never report the matter—a fact that child abusers rely heavily on.
In recent years, evidence of worldwide child abuse has been growing, so that today there is a mountain of such evidence that can no longer be denied or ignored. But most agree that the elimination of child abuse is a formidable task. So these questions arise: Is there anyone who can really protect our children? How can those of us who are parents protect our God-given heritage and look after the lives of our vulnerable young children? To whom can parents turn for help?
The Watchtower, July 15th 2001 Issue, Page 21:
Are You Truly Tolerant?
(Balance Is Needed)
Of course, we need to avoid being overly tolerant. For instance, terrible damage is done when religious authorities tolerate abusive priests who persistently molest boys and girls. Treating the children as occasions of sin, commented one reporter in Ireland , the church authorities merely moved on the offending priest (to another location).
Is just transferring such a man an example of proper tolerance? Hardly! Suppose a medical body allowed an irresponsible surgeon to continue operating, transferring him from one hospital to another, even though he was killing or maiming his patients. A mistaken sense of professional loyalty might produce such tolerance. But what about the victims whose lives were lost or adversely affected because of negligent or even criminal practices?
The Watchtower, November 1st 2001 Issue, Pages 4-5:
False Religion Corrupts the Conscience
In the Bible book of Revelation, false religion is seen as a symbolic harlot called Babylon the Great. Her teachings have distorted the moral sensibilities of many people and have caused them to hate and even act violently against those who have different beliefs. In fact, according to Revelation, God holds false religion primarily responsible for the blood “of all those who have been slaughtered on the earth,” including God’s own worshipers.—Revelation 17:1-6; 18:3, 24.
Jesus warned his disciples of the extent to which false religion would distort the moral compass of some when he said: “The hour is coming when everyone that kills you will imagine he has rendered a sacred service to God.” How morally blinded such violent individuals are! Jesus said: “They have not come to know either the Father or me.” (John 16:2, 3) Not long after Jesus spoke those words, he himself was murdered at the behest of some religious leaders, who were able to reconcile their crime with their conscience. (John 11:47-50) In contrast, Jesus said that his true followers are identified by the love they have among themselves. But their love is still more expansive, for it reaches out even to their enemies.—Matthew 5:44-48; John 13:35.
Another way false religion has sabotaged the conscience of many is by pandering to whatever morality, or lack thereof, that happens to be in vogue. Foretelling this, the apostle Paul said: “There will be a period of time when they will not put up with the healthful teaching, but, in accord with their own desires, they will accumulate teachers for themselves to have their ears tickled.”—2 Timothy 4:3.
Nowadays, religious leaders tickle people’s ears by saying that sex outside of marriage may be acceptable to God. Others condone homosexual acts. In fact, some clerics are themselves actively homosexual. An article in the British newspaper The Times stated that “thirteen openly gay clergy” have been elected to the General Synod of the Church of England. When church leaders abandon Bible morality and their churches do little about it, what standards should their parishioners adopt? It is little wonder that millions are thoroughly confused.
How much better it is to be guided by the beaconlike moral and spiritual truths taught in the Bible! (Psalm 43:3; John 17:17) For example, the Bible teaches that neither fornicators nor adulterers “will inherit God’s kingdom.” (1 Corinthians 6:9, 10) It tells us that males and females who change “the natural use of themselves into one contrary to nature” are “working what is obscene” in God’s eyes. (Romans 1:26, 27, 32) These moral truths are not the fabrications of imperfect men; they are the inspired standards of God, which he has never repealed. (Galatians 1:8; 2 Timothy 3:16)
The Watchtower, June 1st 2002 Issue, Page 25:
Certain incidents in particular shocked me.... Another time, the principal of the Baptist school attempted to abuse me sexually. I learned afterward that he was a homosexual and had abused others. I pondered these things, wondering to myself, 'Does God approve of religions whose members and even whose leaders are not held accountable for gross sins'.