As the leading site in America that gives voice to persons falsely accused of rape, we would be remiss if we didn't articulate a point that is beyond dispute: of all the groups who are adjudged "guilty" of sex offenses in the court of last resort -- the court of public opinion -- before a scrap of evidence is admitted at trial, and on the basis nothing more than a mere accusation by a lone accuser, none are as reviled, scorned, and despised as Catholic priests. When it comes to the subject of priests and rape, political correctness jumps into hyperdrive and Catholic bashers, rape feminists, misandrists, and hysterical chivalrous men who "don't want no pervert near my kid" flock to the issue the way Philadelphians make a beeline to the Jersey shore on Saturdays in July.
It is unjust in the extreme. We, of course, do not defend those priests who have harmed children, or those in the church hierarchy who, with reckless disregard for children's safety, do nothing about it. Those men need to be held accountable for their acts and indifference. But the point can't be made often enough: they are a tiny minority. Just as "all men" unequivocally are not rapists, with apologies to the radical feminists, neither are "all priests."
Day in and day out, countless members of the clergy, who would never dream of hurting a child, perform countless acts of charity that few people hear about because they never make the news. Those men don't deserve to be painted with the "pervert" brush.
Just as the false rape epidemic strikes men and boys in every walk of life, is it a stretch to believe the church is under siege by false claims? The question scarcely survives its statement. Seriously, what easier target could there possibly be? I would guess that no group in America faces a greater risk of a false rape witch hunt than Catholic priests. When state legislatures seriously consider retroactively extending statutes of limitations to cover alleged rapes supposedly committed long ago against students in private but not public schools, that's not Catholic bashing?
One of the reasons we do not write about this particular problem as much as we otherwise would is because presumptively innocent clergy have as strong an advocate as there is in America for any group, William Donohue, President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. In one of Mr. Donohue's recent defenses of the Pope, he chronicled the absense of evidence against the Pope in connection with this latest wave of sex scandals:
". . . [T]he pope's harshest critics are blaming him for not defrocking a man whom he may never have heard of, and in any event was entitled to a presumption of innocence. Or was he? There are not just a few who would deny civil liberties protections to priests.
"It is a sad day when al-Qaeda suspects are afforded more rights than priests. That this kind of intellectual thuggery should emanate from those who fancy themselves tolerant and fair-minded makes the sham all the more despicable."
Now that's advocacy. Presumptively innocent priests need such a strong advocate. Mr. Donohue is sort of a lightning rod for Catholic bashing. He's routinely attacked in broad brush fusillades by the usual suspects. I can understand why -- it must annoy the hell out of that crowd that presumptively innocent clergy have such a strong advocate. (And don't forget, when I had the audacity to raise the Blackstone formulation here, which is accepted by every court in America -- that it's better that ten guilty men walk free than to convict one innocent man -- two feminists wrote saying they wished I would be brutally raped. Ah, the forces of enlightened progressivism!)
I will note one caveat that bears repeating: the Catholic Church, like all institutions populated by humans, is certainly not perfect. That is true on the issue of false rape claims. In last year's false rape claim against Lance Corporal Daniel Smith, an American serviceman in the Philippines, I was very disappointed that members of the Church hierarchy in the Philippines did not speak out for Cpl. Smith in the face of overwhelming evidence suggesting his likely innocence. See here and here. (If you want to read my angriest post ever, it came on the subject of Cpl. Smith: see this. By the way, I have just today seen some belated comments under that last post -- they make me chuckle out loud.) The forces of gender politicization crept into that debate, and I respectfully submit that the Church was too willing to support the politically correct victim group -- women -- over a man sentenced to rot in prison for a crime he likely did not commit. (Cpl. Smith's conviction was overturned, and he returned to the U.S.)
I would hope that priests understand their communion with all falsely accused men and boys, whose victimization is not merely tolerated but celebrated in some quarters. After all, all of us -- priests and laity -- are stranded in a time when not just Christianity, but maleness itself, is decidedly politically incorrect.