Catholic Church Sex Abuse Scandals

Esther - posted on 04/02/2010 ( 13 moms have responded )

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Here I am again with another post by Andrew Sullivan (I will soon have you all converted to becoming fans of his ;) who is a devout catholic and gay. He wrote this about the Catholic Church abuse schandals and I was interested to hear your take on what he writes:



http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/th...



It's The Gays' Fault

01 Apr 2010 03:39 pm



I figured we had gotten past this canard but since Bill Donohue is on every television and radio show loudly proclaiming that the church's abuses can be attributed to "homosexuals", and therefore it is homosexuality and not the church that stands in the dock, it requires some unpacking.



Here's Donohue's valid point. In some of the reports on the sex abuse crisis, the impression is sometimes given that all the offenses are against children in the classic pedophile sense - pre-pubescent. The John Jay Report found that 22 percent of the cases of abuse in America were with children under the age of ten, 51% were between the ages of 11 and 14, and 15 percent were aged 16 or older. Eighty percent were same-sex abuse. So you can see how you can say that the majority of the cases were same-sex acts between men and male teens who were sexually past puberty. Hence, in Donohue's blinkered eyes, the gays did it. And if we get rid of all the gays, we may be unfair to many of them, but at least we can get rid of the abuse.



But here's why Donohue's attempt to blame the crisis on homosexuals as such is so wrong. First, the critical issue is abuse, not orientation. The abuse of a young or teenage boy is no different in its nature than the abuse of a young or teenage girl. The sin is the abuse of power, and the use of religious authority to subject the defenseless to an adult's sexual gratification. It's about the power differential, and the still fragile nature of a developing psyche and sexuality. The sexual orientation of the perpetrator is, strictly speaking, irrelevant to the matter at hand: an institution that sought to cover up, and protect rapists and molesters of minors. If we were talking about adult sexual relationships here, we could have a discussion about sexual orientation. But we're not. We're talking about abuse.



Secondly, and obviously, homosexuality is not abuse. It is an orientation that for the overwhelming majority involves consensual sex with adults. Some obvious attraction for teenage boys is as prevalent among gays as the obvious attraction for teenage girls for straight men. But there is no reason to correlate homosexuality with abuse, pederasty or pedophilia.



The real question is: what kind of gay man molests children and young teens? Just as: what kind of straight man molests children and young teens? What leads to this kind of behavior which is far from the norm among homosexuals and heterosexuals? And why does the Catholic Church priesthood seem such a magnet for child rapists and molesters? Why has it seemed to attract so many gay men who are psychologically disturbed or sick when it comes to their sexual orientation?



I find the answer pretty straightforward.



The church teaches first of all that all gay men are "objectively disordered:" deeply sick in their deepest soul and longing for love and intimacy. A young Catholic who finds out he's gay therefore simultaneously finds out that his church regards him as sick and inherently evil, for something he doesn't experience as a choice. That's a distorting and deeply, deeply damaging psychic wound. Young Catholic gay boys, tormented by this seemingly ineradicable sinfulness, often seek religious authority as a way to cope with the despair and loneliness their sexual orientation can create. (Trust me on this; it was my life). So this self-loathing kid both abstracts himself from sexual relationships with peers, idolizes those "normal" peers he sees as he reaches post-pubescence, and is simultaneously terrified by these desires and so seeks both solace and cover for not getting married by entering the priesthood.



None of this is conceivable without the shame and distortion of the closet, or the church's hideously misinformed and distorted view of homosexual orientation. And look at the age at which you are most likely to enter total sexual panic and arrest: exactly the age of the young teens these priests remain attracted to and abuse.



That's the age when the shame deepens into despair; that's when sexuality is arrested; that's where the psyche gets stunted. In some ways, I suspect, these molesters feel as if they are playing with equals - because emotionally they remain in the early teens. I'm not excusing this in any way; just trying to understand how such evil can be committed.



Ask yourself: how many openly gay and adjusted priests have been found to have abused minors? Or ask yourself another question: if straight men were forbidden to marry women, had their sexual and emotional development truncated at the age of 13, and were forced into institutions where they were treated by teenage girls as gods, an given untrammeled private access to them, how much sexual abuse do you think would occur there? Please. This is not that hard to understand.



I think it's compounded by the shame gay bishops feel about their own sexual orientation. They, like Bill Donohue, secretly associate their homosexuality with dysfunction, disorder, chaos, evil. So when they come across a fellow priest found to have molested teenage boys or children, they associate it with homosexuality - not pederasty - associate themselves with it, and try to cover it up - partly because they want to protect the church (which is their sole refuge) and partly because they want to protect those they wrongly associate with themselves. My own view is that Ratzinger fits almost perfectly into this paradigm, just as Weakland did. Which means there will be no change until this generation dies off. If Ratzinger were to face the truth on this, his world would collapse. He is not giving up on denial yet. He is a prime example of the walking wounded. Crippled, in fact, in the sole area he cannot be crippled: moral authority.



I don't believe, in other words, that you can tackle this problem without seeing it as a symptom of a much deeper failure of the church to come to terms with sexuality, sexual orientation and the warping, psychologically distorting impact of compulsory celibacy in the priesthood. If women and married men were allowed to be priests, if homosexuality were regarded in Catholic theology as a healthy and rare difference rather than as a shameful disorder, this atmosphere would end, and these crimes would for the most part disappear and the cloying, closeted power-structure which enabled them to go unpunished for so long would finally crumble. And the church could grow again.



Through the truth, not around it. But it's exactly that truth that this pontiff and his enablers refuse to acknowledge. It would kill them.

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Mary - posted on 04/03/2010

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I'm not sure, Kati, but my guess is that a few of them are. I think the biggest issue is that the Church is perpetuating this problem by continuing to demand that it's priests remain celibate...an unnatural state for any human, regardless of sexual orientation. My guess is that few of them would admit to themselves, let alone the rest of the world, that they are, in fact, gay. Because of the church's official stance on homosexuality, it would only make them even more "wrong".

The sad thing is, the whole celeibacy thing is based on outdated social issues related to property ownership and inheritances. The Catholic Church has a history of corrupt and greedy leaders...and back in the day when priests could still marry, the question of who inherited the house and land was a huge deal, and the church wanted to insure that it kept every blessed penny for itself, and not the priest's family. By eliminating legitimate heirs, they solved the problem of both provideing for his family, as well as battling who got what when he died. It never had anything whatsoever to do with "religion" or the word of God. It is a flawed, outdated practice that must be abolished for the well-being of Catholicism as a whole.

As I said, I do think that there were many young men who grew up in strict Catholic household, and struggled with the realization that they were gay. Both their families and the Church were giving them the message that this was wrong and immoral. To escape the guilt, shame and contoversy, they took what they thought was the best option around, and chose the priesthood, where the vows of celibacy made their sexual orientation a non-issue (they thought). Problem is, avoiding and burying it doesn't work, and some of them were unable to suppress these urges when presented with opportunity. In no way do I think all pedophiles are gay, nor do I think all gay priests are guilty of these abuses. I do think that the priestly lifestyle attracted many more prone to these actions, and all of the secrecy within the Church fostered a situation where it could continue, unchecked, for entirely too long.

Emma - posted on 05/01/2010

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Most paedophiles are in fact heterosexual that goes for both men and woman. no matter what the sex of the child they are molesting.
I read quite a lot of interviews and case study's on this subject over the years , From what i have read there is much more male on male abuse than male to female, but male children are far less likely to report said abuse, thus they have become the target of choice for many paedophiles.
Due to society attitudes towards homosexuals, the shame and fear of rejection a male child feels when he is abused is compounded, and as the standard MO for paedophiles is to convince the child that they in fact, invited the abuse and enjoyed it which for male children is felt to be true due to penal response during the abuse.
Thus boys are much more likely to remain silent than girls.
The catholic church is not attracting gay men they are attracting paedophiles, and with the churches history of protecting abusers its a very attractive hunting ground for them.

Rosie - posted on 04/02/2010

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i guess i've never thought of these priests as gay. i've just thought of them as perverts.some of his words do make sense, i've never thought that priests abusing children or young boys was more than just power over a powerless being-no matter what sex they happened to be. not just a gay man with no where to express their true feelings.. so all these closet homosexuals molest children? i don't think so. have the priest that molested confirmed themselves as gay? in a way it almost seems to go against what he is trying to say.

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Emma - posted on 05/01/2010

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Most paedophiles are in fact heterosexual that goes for both men and woman. no matter what the sex of the child they are molesting.
I read quite a lot of interviews and case study's on this subject over the years , From what i have read there is much more male on male abuse than male to female, but male children are far less likely to report said abuse, thus they have become the target of choice for many paedophiles.
Due to society attitudes towards homosexuals, the shame and fear of rejection a male child feels when he is abused is compounded, and as the standard MO for paedophiles is to convince the child that they in fact, invited the abuse and enjoyed it which for male children is felt to be true due to penal response during the abuse.
Thus boys are much more likely to remain silent than girls.
The catholic church is not attracting gay men they are attracting paedophiles, and with the churches history of protecting abusers its a very attractive hunting ground for them.

Johnny - posted on 04/09/2010

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Well done cartoon. I'm not a big fan of the Catholic Church (as an institution, although I generally really like Catholics, lol). So there isn't much they can do to lower my opinion of the Church, it's pretty much at rock bottom. But my girlfriend is planning her wedding for the end of April. She went to her Easter service and their priest included some comments in his sermon on this scandal. He mentioned how the Pope was being victimized by outsiders. She went home and began to start looking for somewhere else to hold her ceremony. I think it is still going to end up being at the Church, because it's just too late. But I doubt that after that service, she'll ever be going back. She told us at her stagette that her and her fiance have decided that they will not be baptizing their children as Catholics unless there are drastic changes and plans to change before then. It makes me sad for her, because I know how much her church and her faith mean to her.

Dana - posted on 04/05/2010

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I'm going to come back and post later but, it's really time the Catholic Church gave up the greediness and got rid of the whole celibacy thing. It's such a crock.

ME - posted on 04/05/2010

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As a side note...we just lost the most AMAZING young priest I have ever met in my life (at my church). He is handsome and charismatic, and a brilliant communicator and scholar. I am SURE that the celibacy issue was a major factor in his leaving the priesthood!

ME - posted on 04/05/2010

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I never took the time to think about it this thuroughly...BUT, I'm sure he's pretty close to right on!

Rosie - posted on 04/03/2010

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i understand how that can happen definintely, but like i stated before i never thought of these priests as homosexual. i've always thought of them as perverts. i don't know if any of the priests would end up saying that they were homosexual, but do you know if any of them have admitted to being gay? it would make it a little bit clearer for me.

Esther - posted on 04/02/2010

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No - I don't think he's arguing that every closet homosexual is a pedophile, nor is he excusing it. But living in the closet and being full of self loathing is a very destructive path to be on. So is having your sexual development arrested in your early teens because there is no outlet for you to develop that part of your being. Look at Ted Haggart who turned to drugs and male prostitutes, look at McGreevy who got his fix in back alleys, look at Larry Craig who was looking for male company in airport bathrooms. These are not "healthy" well adjusted men. I think the church attracts these damaged men disproportionately because it provides them cover for their lack of (sexual) relationships with women and it gives them solace for feeling unworthy, damaged, inherently evil. Also priests are in a unique position of power, particularly in relationship to children, which explains why this type of abuse is so much more common in this setting.

Esther - posted on 04/02/2010

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I tend to agree with him on this as well. I think the whole stance the church has on homosexuality is wrong and very destructive. I also think their policies on celibacy and women are outdated and unproductive. Hopefully they will come to see the light before too many more lives are destroyed.

Mary - posted on 04/02/2010

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I think he is absolutely, 100% dead right.

I believe that the demand that priests remain celibate has been what has attracted a large number of men struggling with their sexual orientation, as well as those who struggle with those other, more disturbing sexual urges and attractions. On some level, they believe that these feelings are "wrong", or, in the case of pedophiles, they KNOW are wrong. They are ashamed of these feelings, and rather than address them, they seek refuge and solace in a lifestyle that demands celibacy, believing it will prevent them from acting on their urges. It doesn't work...they are unable to hide from these desires, and sadly, they are in a postition to "secretly" act on them with vulnerable and somewhat helpless children who both trust and fear them.



Abolishing celibacy and ordaining woman IS going to be necessary of the Catholic Church is going to survive, and I agree with Sullivan...it will not become a reality until this generation of priests is gone. I also believe it would almost completley irradicate the ongoing issues of sexual abuse perpetrated by the hands of priests.

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