Policing the Priesthood : Part 1


So it goes ...
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London UK
A matter brought to light (too slowly by far) in scandals over the recent years within the Catholic Church is the question of the adequate protection of the laity from perverse practice by those who traditionally (in sociological terms) hold positions of authority.

In the eyes of God, we none of us are perfect. For those who feel a calling to serve Christ, it is assumed that everything else becomes secondary to that. Hence the priest takes a vow of poverty, chastity and obedience. In the light of which, the question of sexual orientation should (and I cannot stress 'should' enough) become immaterial. It does not matter whether he is hetero, homo or bi — the simple fact is that he has taken a solemn and binding vow that whatever his orientation, he will not act on the impulses they give rise to, nor give in to the pressures they might pose long-term.

We need also be very careful to distinguish between homosexuality and paedophilia, as some assume the two to be synonymous. It is my understanding that the majority of paedophiles are in fact more hetero than homo, or perhaps neither one nor t'other ... but it should be understood that homosexuality does in no way imply paedophilia.

That there seems to be such a link, in the cases brought to light in the Catholic Church in America, deserves closer inspection ... there is a whiff of conspiracy here ...

I suppose, in the past, if and when a priest failed in his vows, he confessed (on the assumption that the confession is heartfelt and genuine), was forgiven, and allowed to continue. Often, for the 'benefit' of all concerned, he would be moved, in the hope of a fresh start ... now I can sense the objection immediately: what about the victim(s)? And it is a valid objection.

At this stage, the only 'excuse' I can offer is that the disregard of the victim's position is a cultural issue that has only recently been brought to light.

After the Falklands War, soldiers leaving the service were told 'to get drunk and forget about it' ... some got drunk and, unable to escape their memories, have remained drunk ever since. The rate of marital breakdown, civil disturbance etc., far, far exceeds any average. And now it is a fact that more ex-soldiers have died at their own hands by suicide than were killed in conflict.

What I am saying is the failure to respond to the victim in any adequate or acceptable manner is not only a failing of the Church (which it is, and moreso as we should be leaders and exemplars in the field of pastoral care), but is a cultural one ... even in Law, there is still strong arguments that say the system is more lenient, or more considerate, of the perpetrator, than the victim, who is usually left to cope alone.

That in the English Secret Service, the numbers of homosexuals was, and perhaps remains, significantly high, and moreover that there is significant evidence to show that such officers were often highly successful.

Two reasons for this — one I think, is that the services draw from the 'usual' social channels, and if one has any latent homosexual tendencies, then there is no better place than an English public school to nurture them. The other is that the homosexual learns of his own sexuality usually early on, and learns to conceal and dissemble, so that by orientation he is led towards the 'double life' almost as a second nature ... and then finds himself in the employ of an outfit that requires just that ... in short, he's been training for it all his life.

That I do wonder whether paedophiles similarly learn to develop this 'double life' and having done so, find the seminary and the priesthood 'cover' for their activities. Wil spoke of 'gay friendly' seminaries — a disposition which in itself reveals a certain failing, which can be attributed to the liberalism of the 60s, 'gay' equals 'sensitive' (a typical stereotype) and a seminary should have no leaning towards any carnal orientation other than its cessation — and I would go further and say that not only 'gay friendly' but seminaries have been 'paedophile blind'. From the paedophile perspective, a priest is not a bad living, offering privacy and access to children in large measure — perhaps 'gay' too, was part of the cover of a deeper and more disturbing tendency.

As an Vatican watcher will tell you, a week is a long time in politics, but a century is a bit of a rush in religion. I endorse this wholeheartedly — when people demand the Church keep up with the times, too often this means jumping this way and that under the caprice of the latest fad championed by a tasteless and populist media seeking titillation and the novel ... in short, too often the idolisation of the trivial.

We work to a different paradigm.

But it should be fairly obvious that some things cannot be postponed indefinitely, and not where human suffering is at stake.

Nor that solutions should be outside the rule of law. Justice must be done, and justice must be seen to be done.

In Part II I simply reference two books, written with these issues in mind, and which seem to have garnered some critical appeal from all sides of the debate.

You get child abusers.... In children protective agencies... Police, anything that you would say: "oooh no way would that sort of thing happen here... These are -all- people of rules and good people..." But, we do not know that for certain do we.... Not everyone is classed as a "good person"... I think it is something more of an illness than good or bad... It is a person that needs help...

But I think, you get all sorts of people in every type of group, society whatever.... So to tarnish all with one brush isn't right... So sure if for an example you want to use the Catholics, I'd put money on there being some really... REALLY awesome people in the Catholic faith, honest fair good people... Just like with "bad" people... It must be quite hard sometimes to have to put up with all stereotyping your faith as child sex offenders and such.... Like I know many, many JW's and they are all really kind honest people... But, there are stories of some of the elders of some halls abusing and sexually harrassing others.... That doesn't mean I am going to keep my back to the wall everytime I see my JW friends...... Anyway... Sorry for interupting. :)
I was going to write a lengthy discourse, but decided to withhold comment until I hear part 2 from Thomas.