Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why Pedophile Priests are Inevitable

It is my considered opinion that the problem of pedophile priests is a predictable, and indeed inevitable, result of the doctrine and structure of the Roman Catholic Church. (By way of disclaimer, I should note that I no longer consider myself Protestant, and at no time have I ever considered myself Catholic. In particular, no Catholic priest ever saw or touched my swimsuit area.)

First, doctrine. All sex other than a man and a woman, married to each other, with the possibility of creating a child, is immoral -- a grievous sin before God. I personally don't believe that, but I'm not here to argue with someone else's religious faith (unless it's Astrology). The reality is, I can't prove that God doesn't feel that way. The essence of personal religious faith is that it is both personal and a matter of faith. Furthermore, it isn't the doctrine alone that leads to pedophile priests: it is the doctrine in combination with the structure of the Catholic Church.

Within the Catholic Church, much moreso than within most Protestant churches, the Priest is elevated to a station just below the Pope, who in turn is roughly on a par with Jesus. (The Pope is infallible; the Priest is just always right.) In the Ten Commandments, "keep the Sabbath" comes even before "honor thy father and mother." The Priest is as pure as a mortal man can become.

Two trends develop thereby, with a disastrous intersection. First, men who have sexual feelings for underage prospective partners are drawn disproportionately to the priesthood, most especially if the affection is for boys. On the one hand, the desire for sex with children is horrifically immoral, but there's something especially warped about saying that desire for girls is bad while desire for boys is the really big sin. On the other, even though the pedophile has prayed and prayed and done every good deed he can manage, God has not lifted this burden of unclean desires, so the man hopes that God will reward him by cleansing him of his sins if he devotes his entire life to Christ. If the man (it's not just the nuns!) marries the King of the Jewboys, he might not be so tempted to have sex with the Babylonian boy sluts. Thus our young pervert becomes a priest, most likely with only the purest of motives to purge himself of his unclean desires through service to Jesus. Not only that, the other priests, instead of defrocking and excommunicating the pedophile priest, close ranks to protect him; he is their fellow Servant of the Church.

The children, on the other hand, have been taught that God forgives sins through the Priest, and that they must do Whatever Father O'Hornihands Tells Them To Do or God will be Very Angry. To go and confess that "Father O" touched you "down there" is to demand that you be sent to Hell, along with everyone you care about. God told you not to tell your parents, your teachers, or most especially any other young boys who haven't yet had the "special" tickle fights. (Kids: having a tickle fight isn't necessarily bad. Having a "special" tickle fight that you "mustn't tell your parents about," can be very bad.)

Mix Priests trying to overcome their shameful desires, with a ready supply of compliant young charges who will do whatever the Priest says, and you have nothing but a recipe for disaster.

The reality is that the Catholic Church is nothing more than a warped reflection of NAMBLA (no, I'm not going to link to NAMBLA). NAMBLA (and a very few others) would have us believe that children are sexual beings, exactly like adults. The Catholic Church (among many others) would have us believe that children are completely innocent of all sexual thoughts or feelings. Both positions are utter unfiltered hogwash. Children are highly sexual beings, even at birth. Any hospital staffer who has spent time in a maternity ward can tell you that a good many of the babies are getting busy self-soothing just about as quickly as they pop out. Some childhood interest in sex is nothing more than learning which words push buttons for the grown-ups, but some of it is entirely real. However, childhood sexuality undergoes profound changes at puberty, with more gradual evolution continuing into adulthood.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church approaches the issue in a manner somewhat like giving an ice-cream addict the key to the walk-in freezer, in the hope that it will help him resist temptation. For the pedophile priest, leading a choir or youth group is like walking on hot coals, only it's not his own feet that get the blisters. In particular, if he does get caught out, the Church will just transfer him to a new bed of coals (or a new ice-cream freezer, depending which metaphor you prefer).

Thus, if the Catholic Church truly wants to put an end to the problem of child-molesting Priests, the way forward is easy to map out:

  • Emphasize to children, especially, but also to the congregation as a whole, that the Priest is a human being with human failings, and so is the Pope.
  • Emphasize to children the very simple point that if any adult touches them or tries to touch them in the swimsuit area, they should tell their parents immediately, even if the adult says not to tell. There are a very few times when an adult (for example, a doctor or nurse) might need to touch your swimsuit area, but it's always OK to tell your parents.
  • Any priest who molests a child must be banned for life from any work with children, especially without supervision. Any priest who has sexual intercourse with a child, or who molests more than one child, must be not only removed from the priesthood, but excommunicated.
  • End the stigmatization of homosexuality. That hunky guy with the sixpack abs up there on the cross, He ain't there just for the ladies.
  • Allow priests (and priestesses) to marry. Marry a man, marry a woman, just please don't marry a small furry animal.
Until the Catholic Church faces the reality of the "structural deficit" in priestly morals, there will continue to be children molested by priests, there will continue to be cover-ups, and there will continue to be childhoods desecrated by the hypocrisy of it all.