We are seeing a rush of people coming forward to sue the Catholic Church over allegations they were abused in the past by priests, and to the casual observer it would seem that such abuse has been widespread in Catholicism.
But that is far from the truth.
Without commenting on whether the allegations in the various lawsuits are true, it doesn’t take a genius to recognize that counted against the millions of Catholics in California and throughout the country – indeed hundreds of millions throughout the world – these instances amount to an extremely small number.
The vast majority of the thousands of Catholic priests in California go about their work every day, never breaking the trust their congregations have put in them. They uphold not only their priestly vows, but fulfill the expectations to which their church and the public hold them.
Unfortunately, the few who do break their vows and behave inappropriately and even as criminals make news far in excess of their numbers.
One reason for this is that for a priest to act that way is so rare and so out of character that it can’t help but make news.
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In fact, it is in these cases that the exception proves the rule, which is that most priests, and for that matter most ministers of any denomination, are well meaning and usually capable people who try their best to make their churches and communities better places for the rest of us to live in.