Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is U.S. Culture Too Harsh on Catholicism?

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Is U.S. Culture Too Harsh on Catholicism?

Article excerpt

Byline: Phillip Milano

So much is made of anti-Semitism and how ugly it is, yet anti-Catholicism is alive and well on TV and in the movies. Live talk shows seem obsessed to bash the church.

Rene, Port Orange


Catholicism is the largest denomination in the U.S. and world (more than a sixth of the planet's population), so what you may perceive as "a lot" is just proportionally appropriate.

Pete, 39, Pennsylvania


You think we're going to be biased and bitter writing this, just because Fr. Walsh told us in eighth grade we needed "psychological help" from St. Petronille's nuns for asking too many questions in religion class? Or because Fr. Gabel told us before graduation from St. Francis that we weren't "the sort of person a freshman would look up to?" C'mon. Have faith.

Let's start with Philip Jenkins, professor of humanities at Penn State, who's written lots of books on religion, including "The New Anti-Catholicism."

He argues that in the case of abusive priests, the media tend to broad-brush the scandal as systemic.

"Even moderate commentators are writing as if priests around the world have taken secret vows of conspiracy, perversion, and omerta," he wrote in The American Conservative in 2010. "Worse, this deviance is allegedly built into the church's structures of command and control."

But studies by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York found that at most, about 4 percent of U.S. priests were accused of sexual misconduct with a minor between 1950 and 2002, and of those, 149 could be classified as "super-predators. …

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