No Middle Ground: Exit Joe Paterno
Many rush to compare this scandal to the one which hit the Catholic Church. Paterno is an active Catholic and was raised in a church that was damaged by the sins of trusted figures. But today, the last place you’ll find an active pedophile is in many Catholic dioceses. The Arlington Diocese in Virginia, for example, has adopted a program called Protecting God’s Children. Every person, including parents, who have any contact with children must take hours of training, and annual refresher courses. The materials contain extensive interviews with pedophiles describing their tactics. Beyond learning these tactics, the church emphasizes the need to report even mere suspicions about behavior.
The entire culture of the Catholic Church has changed. Today you are far more likely to have successful sexual predators teaching in government schools than you do inside the American Catholic Church.
The grand jury report describes red flag after red flag that should have been detected. I can say with confidence that had Sandusky coached football in a Catholic school in 2011, his behavior would have been detected and reported, and dealt with harshly, before he got very far.
Sandusky’s many, many gifts to children, his near obsession to be around them, his constant entourage of young troubled boys, his sleepovers, his aggressive touching and wrestling of boys – all of these tactics would be immediately recognized in today’s Catholic Church as a warning sign. Stern action, unlike in Penn State, would have followed.
And so exits JoePa and another attachment to our great innocent American past. Add one more example of creeping evil to our growing inventory. As C.S. Lewis noted, there is no middle ground in this game. You are on one side, or the other. The sooner you realize it, the better.