Please note: In no way, shape or form do I defend or excuse sexual predators and child abusers, whether members of the clergy or not. If you know anything about me, you know that those who harm children are the lowest form of scum in my book.
Also, when I ask questions in my posts, I really am looking for logical answers (keyword, "logical"). So, if there are any Church-bashers out there, help me understand your points. I welcome the dialogue.
Like many of you, my heart hurts to read the recent embarrassing, scandalous headlines about the Catholic Church. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the culpability of any one priest or bishop, or to hash out the details of what Pope Benedict did or didn't do. If you are interested in that part of the story, I suggest you start here. Then, you can click on the many links on that page which will expand on that topic. I especially recommend the aforementioned reading if you have thus far only gotten your information from the New York Times, which is (how to say this kindly?) a tad biased and perhaps agenda-driven in its "reporting" of the "facts."
So, for a little perspective, maybe some logic, on the priest sex scandal in general? Let me just throw out some random thoughts that have been swirling in my brain for some time....
First: The reporting is grossly disproportionate.
I have been a Catholic for 43 years, and I know tons of Catholics. I know it's only anecdotal, but to my knowledge, no one I know personally has been sexually abused by a priest. However, I personally know many people who have been sexually abused by family members, by teachers, by neighbors and by camp counselors. Is it so crazy to question why all the media attention is only on the Catholic Church's offenders (especially considering that the vast majority of cases are decades-old)? And, come to think of it, don't Protestant clergy offend, too?
It seems to me that if the press wants to investigate a vast hotbed of ongoing, right now child sex abuse, with the number of abusers far eclipsing those of the priest scandal, they could just look to the American public schools. Check out this AP story, and then tell me where all the sensationalized headlines are? The failure to sanction or arrest teacher-molesters is routine, and the practice of quietly reassigning these sexual predators to new, unsuspecting schools is so sickeningly common that it actually has a name -- "passing the trash." If the media were truly concerned about protecting children, wouldn't they be hot on the trail of this widespread abuse, exposing administrative cover-ups?
If the Church-bashers could tell me why they aren't demonizing the teachers as well as priests, I am all ears. It simply doesn't make sense to me, unless this is simply about, well, demonizing the Church. Because, frankly, some of the outrage begins to ring a bit hollow.
By the way, I love teachers!!! Some of my closest friends and relatives are teachers, and they are stellar, dedicated professionals. Please don't think I am trashing a profession. Teachers deserve our respect and support, and I am in no way suggesting that we smear all teachers because of the crimes of a few. Reasonable people understand that. But, um... ditto for priests, right?
Second: Don't blame celibacy. Please.
Again, I am confused. If celibacy makes for sickos (which I have heard a thousand times), then why aren't the Church-bashers railing against celibate Buddhist monks? If the answer is, "Because Buddhist monks don't molest children!" then I would say that proves my point. For to insist that celibacy creates child molesters, one must (if one has any integrity) account for the Buddhist monks.
But in fact, many of the same folks crying that celibacy for priests is "unnatural" and "impossible" are great admirers of celibate Buddhist monks, whom they see as "spiritually enlightened." Go figure.
And how to account for fellow Christians who find priestly celibacy to be creepy, sick, unnatural or troubling? That one really baffles me. The word "celibate" actually means "unmarried." And Christianity teaches that unmarried people are not to have sex. That means unmarried teens, single young adults, the never-marrieds, widows and widowers, divorced, etc. Are those categories of people, if they are living as Christ teaches (i.e. no sex), sick and twisted? Are they sexually deviant due to their singleness? If not, why not?
Bottom Line: There are reasons why a tiny percentage of Catholic priests have violated those in their charge, but being celibate is not one of them.
More thoughts on the Church sex scandal in the next post....