I’m not a sports fan in any way, shape or form. I have zero interest in any sport of any kind, I haven’t been to a baseball game since I was a kid, I haven’t watched a sporting event on TV in probably 30 years, I just don’t care. However, the recent case of Joe Paterno, soon-to-be-former head coach of the Penn State football team, has made me think about sports and their occasional similarities to organized religion, pretty carefully.
See, Joe is being pushed out of the organization because he didn’t “do more” when he received the report that one of his assistant coaches, Jerry Sandusky, was sexually abusing young boys. Someone told him that they saw Sandusky in the showers anally raping a 10-year old boy. Paterno went and told his boss about the report, as he is legally required to do, but many criticized him for not taking a stronger stance, calling police, etc.
Well, my question is, why didn’t the person who made the report go to the police instead of going to Joe in the first place? In fact, why didn’t the witness try to stop Sandusky? Heck, if I would have been there, I would have grabbed the closest heavy object and beaten Sandusky within an inch of his life. Then it would have been an entire non-issue. However, that’s neither here nor there, even though Sandusky has now been brought to justice, reportedly having molested more than 40 young boys over more than a decade. Some people are holding Paterno and his superiors responsible and have raised such a ruckus that Paterno is retiring from his 46-year career as head of the Penn State football program. His bosses, the ones to whom he reported the claim, did nothing about it and are likewise facing termination. There is an accusation that they all cared more about the reputation of the school than they did about the welfare of the children.
But doesn’t this whole thing sound just a bit familiar? For those who haven’t been following the Catholic Pedophile Priest scandal, isn’t that exactly what they’ve been doing? In fact, isn’t what the Catholic Church has been doing much worse? They have a leader who wrote the book on not going to the authorities and the church has, for years, been covering up cases of abuse, moving known pedophile priests to other parishes where they can keep molesting children and when pressed about it, declare religious secrecy.
“This is strikingly and sadly identical to the decisions made by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church — that is, the bishop or religious superior making decisions to protect the reputation of the church at the peril of the children,” said Minnesota-based attorney Jeff Anderson, who has represented many abuse victims in cases against the RCC. ”This is also egregious because they are educators. It’s mandated in the courts since the 1970s that educators are mandated reporters — they are supposed to report any accusations to authorities.”
“This is a case about a sexual predator accused of using his position within the community and the university to prey on young boys over a decade,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Linda Kelly said. “Those officials and administrators to whom it was reported did not report [incidents] to police … Their inaction likely allowed a child predator to continue to victimize children for many, many years.”
Taken without context, that statement could, with the change of a single word, refer to either case. Catholic priests have used their position within the community and the church to prey on young boys. Priests used their jobs to gain access and their superiors, who were morally and legally obligated to report their wrongdoing to the authorities, did nothing.
So why do we allow the RCC to continue to get away with this? Where is the call for the Pope to step down? Where is the call for prosecution among senior Catholic officials who demonstrably know that this kind of thing has, and continues to go on, yet do not report it to police?
Now Paterno is without a job, which is fine because he’s well past retirement age. When can we expect the Pope to be without a job for failing to do his job too?