Rome--Italian priest blames kids for their own abuse
For immediate release Thursday, October 8
An Italian priest has been suspended because he admits that he can "understand" pedophilia because sometimes youngsters essentially bring abuse on themselves.
Father Gino Flaim basically says that, at least in some cases, kids "looking for" affection tempt pedophile priests and cause them to commit child sex crimes. That's preposterous and hurtful.
Time and time again, for decades, we've seen priests and bishops make this claim. Hundreds of clerics have publicly blamed kids for their own victimization. And we suspect that thousands more privately hold these self-serving attitudes but are smart enough to hide their views.
It's especially common to hear this victim-blaming in unguarded, unscripted moments and when clerics who commit or conceal violence against kids are facing possible punishment for their crimes.
We're glad that the Vatican reacted to Fr. Flaim's hurtful comments. But he's less of an aberration than many assume. And wouldn't it be refreshing to see Catholic officials promptly and harshly punish priests like this who say similarly harmful things in private, instead of acting only when irresponsible behavior and hurtful words emerge in public?
Finally, speaking of prompt and harsh punishment, it's worth noting that days ago, Vatican officials immediately ousted a gay priest, Fr. Krzysztof Charamsa, but they rarely act so quick and decisive with predator priests. Most child molesting clerics are never defrocked. If they are, it almost always takes years - and dozens of victims or lawsuits or negative publicity - before it happens. Even now, it often takes weeks or months to even get a credibly accused child molesting cleric suspended from active ministry. But in controversies that do not involve sexual violence or cover ups, when high ranking Catholic officials feel embarrassed or offended, they manage to quickly discipline those they consider wrongdoers.
Sadly, we see little evidence that this is changing. Remember the "Bishop of Bling" controversy early in Francis' pontificate. In this case too, public outrage prompted speedy Vatican discipline against this lavish-spending German prelate. But hundreds of bishops have been publicly exposed as having protected predators, endangered kids, deceiving parishioners, misleading police, destroying evidence, intimidating victims, threatening whistle-blowers, and discrediting witnesses and suffer no consequences, despite repeated promises by Francis and others that they will be.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 20,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)