IDEMA: What have we learned from pedophile scandals?

Aug 15, 2012


Jesus was not talking about pedophilia, but the general principle — harm to children — applies to recent scandals at Penn State University and within the Roman Catholic Church. There is much sin connected to these scandals — but perhaps the greatest sin of them all, besides the rapes themselves, is the loss of faith in admired people and beloved institutions.

As the psychoanalyst Erik Erikson pointed out years ago in his seminal book, "Childhood and Society," if our earthly fathers abused us, how can we have faith in our heavenly Father? The loss of trust in the goodness of life and in the sanctity of our institutions and those who staff them is devastating to the soul. How can such wounds be healed? Perhaps only through the grace of God and the love from families and friends.

The chief lesson from these scandals for all of us to ponder is the realization that the preservation of the power and money of a football program and a Christian denomination was far more important than the rape of children.

Why aren't more priests and bishops in jail? Monsignor William Lynn is the first Roman Catholic official in the U.S. to be convicted of concealing sexual abuse of children by priests. He was recently sentenced to 3-6 years in prison. Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said to the monsignor at his sentencing that he had allowed "monsters in clerical garb" to "destroy the souls of children, to whom you turned a hard heart."

Whether Jerry Sandusky will be the only Penn State official to end up in prison remains to be seen.

One of Freud's greatest discoveries is the power of denial. People can justify just about anything through the power of denial if unconscious or even conscious motivations are there in the psyche.

How could Coach Paterno, Penn State administrators, bishops and monsignors look the other way when evidence of pedophilia came into the midst? If a murder had been committed, I am sure that these men (interesting that they are all men) would have called the police. Why not in the case of child rape? To say that they failed in their duties and were incompetent understates the situation.

The desire to maintain or attain power is plaguing many of our institutions, such as our two major political parties. Truth seems to be a casualty in our political discourse, judging from the TV ads telling lies about both Mitt Romney and President Obama.
The lies here are not as destructive as those upheld by Penn State and the Roman Catholic Church, but the disease is the same — hiding the truth in order to preserve money and power, or to attain them.

The one thing institutions such as Penn State and the Roman Catholic Church fully understand is that people vote their pleasure or displeasure with their butts and checkbooks. To lose such support is the greatest fear of our institutions.

There is one thing we, the public, can all do to fight corruption and dishonesty and indeed horrific crimes in our institutions: Stop attending the sporting events and worship services of such institutions until they gain your trust, and give your money to causes you trust —and causes free of lawsuits and legal fees arising from crimes against humanity.

— By the Rev. Henry Idema, Tribune community columnist



Its interesting and almost exhausting to study all the Bible passages concerning the 1,000 year reign of Christ. Everything going on today will not be going on anymore when Christ himself rules from Israel. All the people who have trusted in Christ throughout the ages will have some part in that administration. Some more than others, but rest assured those types of activities will be dealt with swiftly, justly, timely and fairly. Thats the time I look forward to every day. I don't care about politics other than being a responsible voter. We are only responsible for the decisions we actually have power over. Alot of stuff is out of our control. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!


I find it interesting that Rev. Idema seems to focus his ire at the Catholic Church and Penn State. As my earlier letter noted, these are minor blips compared to the likely numbers of pedophiles in the public school systems - teachers, staff, and administrators. The Rev. asks why more Catholic Priests are not in jail - I would ask the better question - why are not more public school employees in jail? In a 2004 report prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, scholar Charol Shakeshaft estimated that roughly 290,000 students experienced some sort of physical sexual abuse by a school employee between 1991-2000, likely 100 times the abuses by priests ("Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature") The study noted that, like the Catholic Church and Penn State, school officials covered up a large percentage of the cases and enabled the molesters by moving them around or simply accepting retirements or resignations. I can answer the question I asked - the National Education Association (teachers' union) and its major goal of protecting teacher's salaries and jobs to the detriment of students. To be charitable, I will assume that Rev. Idema was unaware of the problem of pedophiles in the public schools and thus focus his ire on Catholic priests and one public university.


I agree with this. Although I won't deny that there has been abuse in the Catholic Church, Rev. Idema is committing what is called a "sin of omission. ("So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin." James 4:27) by conveniently not also mentioning the abuse committed by non-Catholic clergymen. Not a good public relations move, Rev.


You are giving away our little secret. Why do you think people go into teaching? Of course.


Another nut case keeping up your blind faith. There is no promise land for just the lord's people. There is no promise land at all !!!! { sirhansalot} verse 1-15-2012


The more I think of this, the angrier I get. Your letter is irresponsible, Rev. Idema. Is this what you preach to your congregation, a distorted view of Catholics? There is no evidence that Catholic clergymen abuse more than non-Catholic, yet you have singled out the Catholic church. This is hate/fear mongering. I will find it hard to take anything seriously that you write in the future.


It's all Obama's fault!!!! Let's blame him for all the sexual abuse of our innocent children!!!


If any of you have read the Tribune for any length of time, you would be familiar with Rev. Idema's blanket statements and very narrow view of reality. I wouldn't expect anything else from him. Agenda driven??? probably...


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