Two child crimes scandals compared
Two US media outlets today mentioned scandals over crimes against children. One involves 6,000 potential crimes in one jurisdiction. The other involves potentially 16 times that many likely predators.
Let’s compare them.
The New York Times reports that more than 6,000 possible crimes against children have not been investigated by state officials in Arizona.
TIME Magazine names Pope Francis its “Person of the Year” and mentions, barely, the vastly more possible – and likely – crimes against children by Catholic clerics. (In the US alone, with just 6% of the world’s Catholics, some 6,000 US priests are proven, admitted or credibly accused child molesters. If you extrapolate, the likely number of predator priests across the globe is astounding.)
So on one hand you have 6,000 possible crimes against kids in one jurisdiction with .092% of the world’s population.
On the other hand, you have 6,000 likely crimes against kids in another jurisdiction – the US Catholic church with roughly 6% of the world’s population.
It’s clear that the church’s abuse crisis is much more severe than Arizona’s abuse crisis.
And in political parlance, the refusal to investigate in Arizona is “sticking to” Governor Jan Brewer. But the overwhelmingly larger and longer refusal of Vatican officials to seriously investigate such crimes – and to prevent police and prosecutors from doing so – is not “sticking to” Pope Francis, even though he has far more power to resolve his crisis than Brewer has to resolve her crisis. (The pontiff, after all, is a monarch who answers to no one. Brewer, on the other hand, is part of a government restricted by “checks and balances” and all sorts of laws.)
The Pope’s personal popularity is well deserved. Personal popularity is different, however, from responsible leadership.
And responsible leadership means putting less emphasis on symbolism (like taking the bus or wearing cheaper shoes) and less focus on secondary issues (like Vatican governance). It means courageously tackling the central issue – the safety of kids.
We are still waiting for this. And while we wait, kids continue to be assaulted.