Some say the most distinguishing feature of our modern media landscape is its inherent herd mentality. A narrative or story line is developed by one or a few media sources, and then suddenly, like bison, every journalist in the land is penning an endless series of similar stories with little regard for truth or accuracy.
And so it is that even Church spokespersons are intimidated by the herd mentality from telling the simple truth: that while the Church, like every other institution at the time, made many mistakes in the past in how it handled sex abuse claims, it has been a model now for the last number of years in how to handle sex abuse claims.
So kudos to Dr. Joaquín Navarro-Valls, former head of the Vatican Press Office, for bravely declaring recently that the Catholic Church has been the world's leader in the fight against child sex abuse and the Church is the "only communitarian and institutional body that is effectively acting to eradicate pedophilia."
Navarro-Valls' comments were made in a recent interview in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica and republished by Catholic News Agency.
The media blackout of the truth
As would be expected, not a single major media outlet reported Navarro-Valls' remarks. Thus the media blackout of the truth continues unabated.
But there can be no doubt as to the truth of Navarro-Valls' remarks. Indeed, because of the unprecedented measures the Church has implemented in the past two decades, contemporaneous accusations of abuse against a Catholic priest are extremely rare, recently averaging only 8 allegations deemed "credible" by review boards each year.
And as we have reported numerous times before, the story of sex abuse in the Catholic Church is more of a history lesson than a current news story. The facts are simple:
- 78% of all identified priests who were accused last year were either already deceased, already removed from ministry, already laicized, or simply missing;
- 90% of all abuse accusations last year allege incidents from at least 25 years ago; and
- 80% of cases last year in which an investigation had been completed fell into the categories of either "unable to be proven" or "unsubstantiated." Only a mere 14.6% of all 2013 cases were even deemed "substantiated" by the very liberal standards of review boards.
And while the cranks and haters claim otherwise, no other organization has stepped up to produce the results that the Catholic Church has in protecting children. In recent years, the Church in the United States:
- has trained over 5 million children in giving them skills to protect them from abuse;
- has trained over 2 million adults, including 99 percent of all priests, in recognizing signs of abuse; and
- has spent well over $70 million just on therapy for victims over the past decade.
Meanwhile, the media continues to turn its collective back on the massive abuse and cover-ups happening today in our local public schools and in Hollywood, instead focusing its ire only on one target: old claims of abuse in the Catholic Church.
Bias? What bias?