Saturday, April 17, 2010

Catholics need to deal with sexual abuse by Priests

I have for years regarded the Catholic religion as distorting the teachings of Christ in many ways.

For example, Jesus spoke nothing about priests, bishops, popes or celibacy.

Even the building of massive churches and cathedrals - common across many forms of Christianity - is foreign to the teaching of Jesus.  Jesus said that "the people are the  church".

Now the worst kept secret for many years - that there are high rates of child sexual abuse and paedophilia among Catholic priests - is making headlines.

This has been a problem for decades - in fact centuries.

The Catholic church - all the way up to the current Pope - has developed a culture of denial and avoidance of this issue.  They judge the perceived harm to their church as greater than the obvious effect on victims.  I think this is a huge mistake.

Children in a congregation, choir or the like, look to their Catholic (or any other) priest as a person of special status and a link to God.  They are regarded as morally correct and essentialy "good".  Imagine what happens when that trust and respect is shattered by sexual abuse.  Lifelong negative impacts on victim's lives result.

Denial and a lack of action by church authorities compound the problem.  The victims are doubly victimised.  Offending priests are moved elsewhere and even promoted, when they should be expelled and put through rehabilitation programs.

The entire Catholic church needs to accept full responsibility for this huge problem and deal with it.  They need to stop blaming the victims, gays, "outsiders", and drop the pretence that in some weird way the "church is the victim".

I think a root cause of the common sexual perversion among Catholic priests is their mandatory celibacy.  As far as I can tell from limited research, the original Catholic priests were not celibate.  The Vatican became concerned around the 10C that priests were accumulating personal wealth and power and drifting away from the influence and direct control of the Vatican.

Their solution to this was to make priests celibate - thereby denying them legitimate offspring - and breaking their ability to accumulate and pass on wealth.  This was dressed up as "interpretations of scripture" with notions of holiness and virtue.

Unfortunately, the reverse has occurred.  The end result in an alarming number of cases worldwide is perversion and sexual abuse.

The Catholic church undoubtedly does a lot of good things in many societies - but this issue threatens to overwhelm them if they don't deal with it and the perpetrators appropriately.   All other churches should take similar action too.  One sexual abuse case is too many.

For the sake of their victims I hope they do so soon.

In the meanwhile, keep your children away from circumstances where celibate priests may have the opportunity to molest them.

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