Do you feel that at least in the United States, there is a high level of ignorance when it comes to Catholic teachings? Do you feel that non Christians, and non Religious judge the Faith based on the acts of people who claim to be Christian?
I think there's a high level of ignorance among some associated with the Church, about the Church's teachings. Yesterday I was looking at posts on a thread on the Buddhist group. Two said that they became Buddhist because Buddhism doesn't ask you to accept things blindly, unlike the church they were in (RCC). That is, RCC is the church with Aquinas, Augustine, and hordes of others that investigate the faith, but they undoubtedly didn't know that, and in their minds, instead of this they imagined "don't think, just believe."
I also have heard that most children raised in the church grow up to leave it -- with lots going not to another church but to secularism.
I don't think that non-Christians these days judge the faith based on what Christian friends or neighbors do or say, but based on media. I do rarely hear someone say, I got really disillusioned from someone I knew and respected and decided to be atheist. (Once I can think of.) Instead, I hear talking points.
Are American Catholics particularly poorly catechized? Are non-Catholic Americans particularly ignorant of Catholic teachings?
I don't know enough foreign Catholics to address the first distinction. I do know that being from a "Catholic country," even Rome ipsa, does not mean those people are especially well-catechized.
As to whether non-Catholic Americans are particularly ignorant of Catholic teachings, distinguo iterum. Compared to non-Catholics in other Western nations at present, I think Americans are more generally aware of Catholic teachings. I think today's Americans are also more aware than past Americans. Consider that colonial Puritans thought Catholics practiced some sort of black magic, that post-War Americans thought the Pope had authority to dictate particular judgments of prudence to particular Catholics (i.e., JFK).
As to whether non-Catholic Americans judge the Faith to be what self-professed Catholics and Christians say it is, Yes, they do.
I think some Catholics like to feel like they are the victims of ignorance and/or discrimination. It reinforces their ultra-montane, reactionary attitudes.
I think a lot of people rightly judge the Catholic Church for its widespread problem with paedophilia and its disturbing tendency to cover it up. The very keepers of doctrine seem to have "a high level of ignorance when it comes to Catholic teachings."
You have to take into account that of the total number of priest who have done such acts it amounts to 1 percent of all the priest in the world. Also the total number of pedophiles in other denominations tally of to 5 percent. I think we forget that the Church while the Bride of Christ, is still full of people, and people are imperfect, I'm not saying this to justify I am just saying that priest and clergy are not a different species of creatures, there not from another planet, yes they are in a public position, but so are politicians. God doesn't say hey your gonna be a priest so you get a sin shield wrapped around you. Could they have handled the scandal a little differently, perhaps they could have, but still trying to look through the eyes of Democracy is not right, Democracy is not the highest good. It definitely can be a good, but it isn't the highest and not what we should base everything on.
I don't think you have statistics to back up your claims.
Also, relativizing and hemming and hawing are part of the problem, so get out of the way so someone who cares can fix it.
And if you said this to the parents of an abused child, I would be surprised if you were still alive. Do you really think you'll bring people back with this sorry excuse for an explanation?
Maybe he doesn't, but I do.
That is, 4% of priests in the 1950-2002 period were accused. Estimates are that 10% of men have offended. These stats are not comparable, but from I couldn't easily find a % of men in general who were accused... because when I google "sex abuse accused" nobody seems to want to publish about other groups, or people in general. As the next paragraph shows, it's not because RCC has the biggest problem. Insurance agencies consider RCC to be at the same level of risk as other churches, and experts say the abuser rate is approximately equal.
Coming at it from a different direction: per Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catholic_sex_abuse_cases#Representativ... , there were 10,667 reported victims between 1950 and 2002 in the USA. The US government reported 83,600 "substantiated" cases in 2005 alone. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Child_sexual_abuse#United_States_and_E... If the number stayed constant, rather than dropping like other social ills during that period, that means any given case of molestation is about 0.2% likely to have involved a Catholic priest. (If it used to be bigger, that percentage would be smaller.)
By contrast, the US Dept Education says the most reliable study has about 10% of US students experiencing something sexual related to a teacher ( http://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/research/pubs/misconductreview/report.pdf, p. 20). I don't have numbers on student population, but if we took those that were in school over about the same period, we should have most of the US population. But assume half the population wasn't in school during 1950-2002. In that case, the number of students experiencing this from educators would be 15,000,000 -- but since obviously most Americans were in school in that period, the number is larger. I have heard elsewhere that the abuse rate is higher among teachers than priests, but this source finds them comparable with big error bars: http://www.cpiu.us/statistics-2/
The other alleged reason for singling out RCC over this issue is that they didn't do anything about the problem. Here's what RCC in general -- not this or that implicated diocese -- did:
Our diocese in particular -- and others like it, I believe -- has a policy that you never, ever leave children alone with any adult, and two or more of the adults that are present must have been through our watchfulness training. This caused some miffed feelings when we did something with other non-RCC churches, and our Protestant friends felt insulted that we wouldn't let them watch nursery w/o 2 adults who'd done the training. I don't know of any other institution that has such a policy either (though maybe BSA does). That's what RCC did about the problem.
But no matter what happened, and what's happening now, it suits many to say that RCC has the problem worse, and dealt with it less effectively if at all, and continues to happen. Sort of like when the Iraq war was winding down, US casualty rates had dropped by a factor of 10, most of Iraq was under Iraqi control again and the US was scheduling its withdrawal... and people said the war wasn't going well and there was no end in sight. It was politically useful to those doing the reporting, and emotionally satisfying to many of those listening. So I expect 20 years from now, when the cases per year from RCC is in single digits and from other institutions remains what it is now, people will still believe (per one of the articles above) that RCC priests "frequently" abuse children.
Thanks for the numbers Will. I would also like to apologize if what I said before Vytautas last post sounded cold. It wasn't meant to I just did not develop my thought. I didn't mean it to sound like what those few priest did was in any way excusable or that it would change what happened or bring solace to families. But I also can't stand for the pigeon holing that gets done by the media and by people in general. some times it's a tongue in cheek thing. But most of the time it's used as a scapegoat to diminish the Faith, and it's used to put all priest in this one cage and it urkes me to no end. Thus our message gets blasted down and people abandon the system, the genius of Catholicism because of someones fall of humanity. The system is not broken, we are broken.
The system is broken when the officers of the church commit unspeakable crimes and then cover it up. That is systematic failure.
Don't blame the media for exposing truth. It's not pigeon-holing: it's truth. No one is trying to diminish the faith or destroy the Catholic Church except those who commit these crimes, those who cover it up, and those who refuse to condemn the crimes and prosecute those responsible.
I'm with Nathan on this one. It IS pigeon holing, e.g., when old news is constantly recycled without recognizing the attempts many dioceses and the Church as a whole have done to make things better now. The horrible events of the past are indeed inexcusable. And granted, many may not like how long things take to change or how much has been done and how quickly. But you gotta look forward if you want to move forward. Learn, course correct, and be part of the solution or get out of the way.
Right. At the same time, you can't expect the Church to have a pristine reputation when its officers conduct themselves like they have, and there has been little progress in bringing the accused to any thing that resembles justice, let alone their handlers that covered up the crimes.
So, we can't sit around and duct-tape our gaze "forward" and claim that the Church is besieged by lies from insidious attackers, without giving justice to those who deserve it. When an institution whose entire authority is built on morality makes this big of a blunder and still hasn't fully come clean, you sit around thinking there's no legitimate reason why faith in the Church and her caretakers is low.
No other institution has the numbers and funds to accomplish a policy like Will describes. I grew up in churches of maybe 100 families, and they had policies even 20 years ago to get references for those working with children and to avoid having children alone with a sole adult.
But when you've got a Sunday school class of 1-3 students, you're not going to assign 2 adults to it; you're just going to require it meet in a semi-public space. And training for 5 total teachers has higher proportionate costs than for a whole RCC Diocese.