Douthat wonders if the sexually puritanical and authoritarian nature of Irish Catholicism fostered sex abuse in the Church:
[Y]ou can see how it could all go bad how a culture so intense clerical, so politically high-handed, and so embarrassed (beyond the requirements of Christian doctrine) by human sexuality could magnify the horror of priestly pedophilia, and expand the pool of victims, by producing bishops inclined to strong-arm the problem out of public sight instead of dealing with it as Christian leaders should.
(In The Faithful Departed, his account of the scandal, Philip Lawler claims that while less than five percent of priests were involved in actual abuse, over two-thirds of bishops were involved in covering it up.) I suspect it isn’t a coincidence that the worst of the priest-abuse scandals have been concentrated in Ireland and America and indeed, in Boston, the most Irish of American cities rather than, say, in Italy or Poland or Latin America or Asia. There will always be priests who become predators; the question is how the Church as an institution deals with it. It hasn’t been handled all that well anywhere, I’m afraid. But the particular qualities of Irish Catholicism qualities which were once a source of immense vitality seem to have led to a particularly horrifying outcome.
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