You know I really thought I’d heard all there was to hear about homosexual, pedophile and sexual abusive priests and the great Catholic Church cover up. Then I read Thursday’s L.A. Times. Tucked away on page ten was a half page article entitled “Society is blamed for priest sex abuse.”
After I stopped laughing I read the article. What a bunch of crap!
According to a questionable independent study commissioned by who else but, Catholic bishops, the sexual abuse problem among priests was never about the rigidity of celibacy or homosexuality, but the result of societal change and the sexual revolution of the 60’s and 70’s. Researchers found that Catholic clerics got caught up in societies changing morals and attitudes regarding sex that make some deviant behavior more acceptable. The turmoil of the times caused some vulnerable priest to engage in sexual acts with women, while others committed child sexual abuse. More boys than girls were abused, they say, not because of homosexuality, but only because boys were more readily accessible. Yeah, right!
In addition the report said that seminaries at that time did a poor job of preparing priests to live a chaste life of celibacy as required by their vows, in such sexual charged times. Unbelievable! So according to the report the priests are the real victims here, victims of a change. Please! Give me a break! Poor Father James raped little boys for twenty years because he was vulnerable and couldn’t cope with the ever changing sexual attitudes of society. B.S.! If that were truly the case then every pedophile, sex abuser or rapist in the country should be able to use the sexual revolution at as their defense. “My client is sorry for molesting those children your honor, but the countries changing attitudes about sex confused him and he was forced to act out.” Yeah, blame it on the sexual revolution. Why not?
Enough with the excuses, face facts. Priest are people first. Taking vows doesn’t remove their human nature. They have weaknesses, doubts and demons just like the rest of us. They too are troubled by the same temptations as everyone else. These priest committed acts of abuse on children and teens, both boys and girls and they impregnated young women, those facts are well documented. But don’t put the blame on society, it wasn’t the sexual revolution that caused them to act, it was their human desires that did them in. They acted on their innermost feelings and desires. Seminary training or even God Himself couldn’t make them control their urges.
Sadly, The Church in all Her wisdom, knew the truth and worked hard to hide it, that too is well known. Rather than dealing with the problem they moved suspected priests from diocese to diocese trying to stay one jump ahead of the truth. Well the truth caught up with Her and now the Church must wear the stain of shame it brought on Itself. The bishops can grasp at straws trying to cover their collective asses. They can commission all the reports they want, trying to shift blame for their priestly mistakes, but the damage has been done. They have been found guilty of negligence and cover up. Own up to it, accept it, learn from it, just don’t hide from it. Again you have given those who look critically at the Catholic Church a wealth of ammunition. They will rip this report to shreds because as far as I can see there not much truth to be found in it.
In the 60’s and early 70’s the times they were a’changing. Many priests were questioning their commitment. Some forsake their vows and left the priesthood. Several of the Sacred Heart priests who were my teachers in high school chose to walk away. In late 1975 the priest who married us and baptized our daughter chose to leave the priesthood. He had fallen in love with a parishioner and wished to get married. I respect him and all those priests who recognized their human frailties or knew they would ultimately surrender to temptation. Rather than sin as a priest they chose to return to the secular world.
Celibacy is not an easy path. I have long been a proponent of allowing priest to marry and can’t understand the Churches reluctance to allow it. With the growing shortage of priests perhaps now is the time to revisit this issue. What is so wrong with allowing a priest to be married. I’m sure there are many people who would find it a lot more comforting taking marital advice from a married priest than an unmarried on.
About the only thing I could agree with in the report is that child sexual abuse by priests seems to have decreased dramatically in recent years. This is a result of better public awareness and the fact that children and young people today are more comfortable coming forward and talking about it. I wish the Church and Her bishops were as comfortable talking about their sexual related problems and stop looking for excuses. Accept responsibility. Blaming societies changing attitudes and the Sexual Revolution for the weaknesses and sins of the priests, is absurd! It’s by far the lamest thing I’ve heard in years!