Thursday, May 21, 2009

Clerical Abuse in Ireland

This story is disgusting and repulsive. But a shock? How can it be after what we've gone through in this country over the past few years as victims of clerical abuse have come forward in droves to tell their stories.

The overwhelming majority of men who join the Catholic priesthood are good, Godly and devout. I fear though, that the church's view on priestly celibacy encourages a subset of sick, confused and tortured men to seek a life in which their demons are held at bay (presumably) by celibacy--only to find that they cannot control their nature.

I was born a Catholic and I have immense respect for the church and its institutions. But the church has simply not been straightforward enough on this crime, and it has not explained why it is that this is not an issue in faiths without clerical celibacy.


Goldwater's Ghost said...

CW – Help me understand your logic. Are you saying that if Catholic priests were simply allowed to engage in sexual relationships, this type of abuse wouldn’t happen? Further, are you equating pedophilia with normal sexual urges? If you are, then I disagree with your reasoning.

Of the 80,000 or so cases of child sexual abuse reported annually, roughly one quarter to a third of the cases are committed by family members (either uncles, biological fathers, stepfathers, or brothers). Add in family acquaintances and the figure rises to almost 75%-80%.

Was celibacy the culprit in these cases? Nope. Why then, should it explain the behavior of less than 2% or so of priests?

Perhaps the question that begs to be asked is why the vast majority of the US clergy cases involve not children, but adolescent and teenage boys.

The Conservative Wahoo said...

You've partially answered your own question...this isn't a pedophilia issue here in the states (and I haven't looked deeply enough into the Irish case but I suspect it is the same), it is a pederasty issue.

It isn't a question of the 98% of faultless priests having simply being allowed to have sexual relationships; it is the fact that the church has a celibate priesthood--a situation in which a conflicted, sick, or sexually un/mal developed man says "i can go there, and because I can't have sex I won't". And then they do, in horrific ways.

What I'm saying is that the celibate priesthood offers a false hope to those who in the general population, would be abusers and pederasts. If there were no celibacy, if priests married as they do in mainline protestant denominations (which don't seem to be plagued with these issues, do they), there would be no "shelter" in the priesthood from whatever is going on in the minds of these men. They would probably go on to lives in which they committed these acts anyway--they simply wouldnt do so within the confines of the spiritual authority offered by the church.

Goldwater's Ghost said...

"If priests married as they do in mainline protestant denominations (which don't seem to be plagued with these issues, do they)" Most epidemiologists would say that a plagues takes a few more than 2% of a population, wouldn't they?

Perhaps the mainline protestant denominations simply don't provide the media with the salacious headlines that the Catholic Church does (DaVinci Code; Angels & Demons, etc.).

So what is your answer for these folks....

Mary said...

Are you sure that there is no pederasty in other denominations?? Just because the NYT and MSNBC have not done exposes on the problem does not mean it does not exist.

And, maybe, just maybe the problem is in the screening and formation process for seminarians and priests.

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