@Heather, I think Sam was doing a fine job representing the context of what I said, actually.
Since I do some physics education work I do have a lot of school contacts, and served for some years on a local school board and a few state-level educational agencies and commissions and such. I can assure you that pedophilia is quite prevalent in public education settings. Sports and sports coaches in particular it seems, though teachers are also quite common.
What happens legally quite frequently is that while there is enough basis on which to force a resignation, there is often not enough to fire outright given the nature of union contracts, and typically there is insufficient evidence to prosecute. Certainly well into the 1990s school districts engaged in what was known as "passing the trash", sending problem-case teachers to other districts. Teachers also frequently moved out of state after an allegation. Eventually this was addressed through mandatory reporting laws and mandatory "professional conduct" checks and such, but those are really quite recent.
I believe one of the victims' lobby groups has data to show that on average these creeps rape 120 children before they are eventually successfully prosecuted and imprisoned. Even then, average prison terms are less than 7 years.
It is a tragedy and a travesty, but it is by no means limited to Catholic priests. These sorts of people look for any position that puts them in a position of trust with youth and parents. Priests, ministers, lay youth group leaders, coaches, teachers, band directors, camp counselors, day care workers.
And do you have any evidence that any of these institutions passed down an executive mandate to keep local police authorities out of investigations - and further to avoid being candid with such investigators when they have already launched an investigation?
It is a tragedy and a travesty, but it is by no means limited to Catholic priests.
You are right, but to quote Tim Minchin:
"But if you build your church on claims of fucking moral authority
And with threats of hell impose it on others in society
Then you, you motherfuckers, can expect some fucking wrath
When it turn out you've been fucking us in our motherfucking asses"
"Yes, indeed, I am a professor."
Are you a priest? A Jesuit?
No, a layman. My undergraduate degree was from a Jesuit institution, though, so I do have a certain fondness for the order.
Now I'm at a major public research university. Perhaps when I retire from here eventually I'll go find a liberal arts college to teach at to pay back what I owe by way of the mentoring I received at such a place.
... a few senior members of the Church were complicit...
I think history would like to expand that "few"...
Well, from a legal perspective you are correct to the extent that an institution can be found liable for the actions of its agents, and we've seen that in legal cases across the U.S.
But you lost me at "the Vatican appears to place its own authority..." Here I think both your language and your argument is much weaker. Some of that probably is because you think is the structure of the institutional Catholic church is very different from what the structure actually is.
Church teaching is quite clear that the prelates who engaged in this nonsense were committing mortal sins, along with the priests who actually did the abuse. But the church doesn't have a police force, no detectives or investigators, no prisons. If you're as mad as I am about people like Bernard Law not going to jail, then your anger is best directed at the U.S. criminal justice system.
It's my impression that our dear Professor does not want to understand you, Kris.
In addition his knowledge base is likely to be quite different. Environments like this are echo chambers of a sort, they are self-reinforcing. The Roman church hierarchy can have the same effect, which is why I think this papal selection is interesting. The religious orders, like the Jesuits, aren't part of the mainstream hierarchy, and Argentina is definitely not Rome.
I will agree that people in the Church do try to "cover their ass" when they make mistakes. Who doesn't? I would wish that all of our leaders, religious and secular, would be saints, but then you all could rightly make fun of me for an impossible wish <g>. I can't speak to this comedian you're talking about, but even back 500 years ago Dante in his Divine Comedy put a number of popes in hell in very amusing ways. Even at the height of the Inquisition, we didn't imprison Dante.
The President of the United States of course can't grant anyone immunity from scandal, certainly not a head of state from outside the U.S. who isn't subject to our jurisdiction in any event. You need to improve your understanding of the governance structure of the institutional Catholic Church, though. The pope is the first among equals, the Bishop of Rome. He can appoint bishops to fill a vacancy, but he doesn't have authority to remove a bishop, and local bishops have relatively complete administrative authority in their areas. So when you talk about moving priests around, that's not something the pope or the Vatican have the authority to do. That was done by the local bishops, like that jackass Bernard Law in Boston.
Regular priests within the Catholic Church are sort of free agents. Like any free person they can quit their current job and move somewhere else whenever they want to, and seek employment as a priest at their new location.
Its rather a far leap from pedophilia to sainthood. Nobody is asking for saints. We don't even believe in saints. But your post indicates that non-pedophilia is saintly. This isn't something you can just brush under the carpet I'm afraid.