From face value, the trial of former Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky and Monsignor William Lynn appear unrelated. Yet each is similarly connected by the willful inability to rise up and take an ethical stand against the vile the corruption surrounding them.
As you may know, Jerry Sandusky will likely spend the rest of his life in jail after a jury convicted him on 45 of 48 counts related to sexual abuse of boys, ending a painful chapter for victims and the entire university. Monsignor Lynn could face up to seven years in prison for his conviction on a third-degree felony.
In the wake of insurmountable evidence, Jeffrey Lindy, the attorney for Monsignor Lynn derided the decision not to let his client remain free on bond prior to sentencing, calling it “an unspeakable miscarriage of justice (for) a 61-year-old man with no prior record and long established ties to the community.” Hmmmmm … “an unspeakable miscarriage of justice?” Seriously?
The unspeakable miscarriage of justice of all these cases is ‘silence.’ It’s the unmistakable inability to do nothing in the wake of grave criminal actions.
Think such abuse is limited to the Catholics? Nope! In 2007, the Associated Press reported three insurance companies receive upward of 260 reports each year of children under 18 being sexually abused by Protestant clergy. A Chicago Tribune review of sexual abuse cases involving several Theravada Buddhist temples found minimal accountability and lax oversight of monks’ accused of preying on vulnerable targets. Four New York Orthodox Jewish men have been indicted for attempting to impede the prosecution of sexual conduct against a child in the first degree.
Every year 3.3 million reports of child abuse are made in the United States involving 6 million children; that’s because reports can include multiple children. The United States has the worst record in the industrialized nation – losing five children every day due to abuse-related deaths. For Sandusky and Monsignor Lynn, it’s hard to know exactly how many victims were abused simply as a result of inaction. If Wikipedia citations are correct, there are over 25 countries where the Catholic clergy has committed sexual abuses. For Sandusky, no will ever know the totality of his crime.
The most important element of all these tragedies, the questions that should receive the most attention but won’t, is why predators are allowed to prey by the very people who have the power to stop them. Why did so many well-meaning leaders do nothing?
Ironically, the Catholic Church actually has a Respect Life Office in many cities across the country. The New York ‘Respect Life Office,’ states:
The efforts of the Family Life/Respect Life Office are born of the belief that every human person is created out of love by God, made in His image and likeness, and is destined to live forever. Out of this awareness of the profound reverence due to every person and a great desire to draw each one closer to Christ, we provide programs to prepare couples for marriage, to support the family, and to build a culture of life.
While I concur with their statement, much of the activities appears devoted to pre-abortion/post abortion activities. And I honor their mission. But in light of today’s decisions, maybe all of us must reevaluate our own personal mission statement and consider that ‘respect of life’ actually seeps further than pre and post birth activities. At the core, what’s the point of saving a child only to murder them psychically via a sexual predator or abuse? What have we personally done to help end this cycle of hidden violence?
From a Buddhist perspective, the third precept includes sexuality. A Buddhist should be mindful of the possible effects on themselves and on others of improper sexual activity. In cases of rape and child abuse, one steals the dignity and self-respect of another. The perpetrator also causes both mental pain and physical pain. Thus, one causes harm to another. Therefore, such behavior breaks several precepts.
We all have a responsibility to stop the insanity.