Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Thoughts on the Church sex scandal. Part One.

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....


  1. Buddhist monks!!! Duh, why didn't I think of that? Oh, because my brain is fast moving mush, that's why.
    Thanks Leila, for doing this. You say exactly what I'm thinking & more so, just ever so much more pretty & kind.

  2. Ok. So. THIS should be the correct link for my real blog...I think.
    It is! It is.

  3. Leila - I can't wait to see what you say is the reason by some Catholic priests abuse children. You're probably going to mention this, but I think a lot of it has to do with the prayer life of the priest. Thanks for starting your blog. You're a great writer!

  4. Great post!

    Satan loves to attack the truth! That's how I know I believe in the one true church! ;)

  5. Amen! What you're saying makes perfect, logical sense to me. The media loves Catholic-bashing...so so sad. The truth always prevails though!

  6. Thanks Leila for this. It is a great resource with all of the links.

  7. Great post! I agree with all you've said. It DOES happen with Protestant clergy, but you rarely hear about it. I don't understand why anti-Catholicism is such a "socially acceptable" prejudice. If the media's bashing and truth-twisting were directed toward any other religion or group, society would be outraged. But for some reason it's okay to bash Catholics...and I hate it! I don't understand the animosity toward the Church. My mom always says the ones who are angriest are that way because they know they are wrong. Keep up the great posts--we'll keep fighting for the Truth!

  8. Hi Leila. Thank you for sharing your insights, there is so much need for prayer all over the place. I feel the need to step up my prayers for the good priests and religious because it hurts them as well in all of this as they get painted with a broad brush. Of course, I am praying for the abuse victims as well. Did you see this article by Peggy Noonan? Always Giving Thanks posted a link to it today and I was surprised by the subtitle, but I thought Ms. Noonan had some good points to ponder. I thought you might be interested.

  9. JBTC, I actually read the Noonan article a couple of days ago, and I really liked the things she had to say. I recommend that article!

    DrG, you are so right that a priest with a weak prayer life is just inviting the devil in! Satan so loves to attack priests. Priests bring us Jesus after all.

    All you ladies are amazing truth warriors! :)

  10. Great post! Can't wait to read more. I'm curious to know if you've read Goodbye, Good Men and what your thoughts are on it, if so.

    Oh, and.... I linked back!

  11. P.S. I'm celibate.......and rejoice in it! I'm still waiting for the UN to send me my official SuperFriends membership card for my superhuman capability to refrain from sexual activity of all kinds.

  12. First, I would never assume anything the media does is done out of care and concern. They print whatever sells. An honest account isn’t going to sell to liberal readers.

    I see your point and I have no answers. I do think Americans in general have a distrust of any large entity and anything which seems powerful. That doesn’t explain the sheer glee people get from seeing scandal in the Church (or anywhere else). I think that reaction is a sign of their own moral corruption. I, myself, don’t enjoy reading about any such charges no matter where it takes place.

    On the whole Protestant vs. Catholic thing, I do think that the division and scattered nature of Protestant churches leads to that. The media (and people in general) view a sex abuse allegation in the Protestant church as an isolated event perpetrated by a single individual. Oddly enough, that is exactly what it is. In the Catholic Church, however, people view it as systematic and part of a cover-up all because the Church is centralized and not fragmented. Still, it’s the same cause: An isolated individual perpetrating a hateful crime.

  13. Ann, I love your insights, and I totally agree with you. I will be posting (someday) on my attempts at honest dialogue with liberals. I think you will find it interesting.

    Lisa, your SuperFriends membership card post is fantastic!!

  14. Oh, and Lisa, I was going to mention the Goodbye, Good Menbook in the next post!

  15. Thanks! The doctor I mentioned in the post actually emailed me and thanked me for it.

    (My daughter hadn't signed out so I accidentally posted under her name and had to delete it.)

  16. i just love to read your thoughts...

  17. As usual Leila, amazing post. Thank you so much.


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