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Fascinating reading

A four-part series on the Catholic sex abuse scandals written by a former priest. Why parents are so damn mad, why the bishops don't understand, and what might be done to fix things.

IANACatholic (pragmatic agnostic at best), but the problem is real, it affects everyone, and the more we understand, the better hope of improvement.


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 21st, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
Fascinating reading (and it simply confirms my long standing belief that any organization, if it lasts long enough, becomes more concerned with its continued existence rather than whatever purpose it was suppose to carry out) but I do see a particular false logic crop up, particularly in the second half of Part I.

The writer seems to equate Vatican II and the "radical" theologies that rose in the 1960s with the increase of sexual abuse amongst the clergy. I really feel like this is a false conflation. The abuse by priests (sexual or otherwise) has been a long standing problem — one only has to look at treatment by clergy at Native Americans in the residency schools in the US and Canada, for example. However, it wasn't until after World War II that there was a concerted effort to report and document sexual misconduct. Before then, it was often either covered up as either too shameful, or blame was placed on the victim.

Moreover, it should be noted according to the data provided, the rise in reported misconduct began in the 1950s, before Vatican II and the "radical" theologies. This suggests there were other factors, and not a move away from tradition that caused the problem. Also, European Catholics were not as heavily under the influence of liberation theology as those in America; liberation theology gained sway here because of the change in demographics from mostly European, upper/middle class to Hispanic working class in many dioceses, particularly in the Southwest. Yet, as we are seeing (and has been simmering for many years now), the European clergy is facing the same issues.

Given that, I have to conclude that the changes in prompted by Vatican II are simply an excuse to urge a return to "traditional" Catholicism, but it's clear that what the Church needs a major shaking up to dislodge the complacency that has settled in. I guess Martin Luther wasn't enough.
Apr. 21st, 2010 08:42 pm (UTC)
The main priority of any organization is to perpetuate the organization. Or, as Orwell said, the first duty of power is power. The Church is just a little bigger than the average PTA or bowling league.

The idea of V-II letting in the pedophiles in the first place does sound a bit strained, as jokes about priests and choirboys go a long way back (so to speak). But he may have a point about the laxness of supervision letting more of the bad apples come through.
Apr. 21st, 2010 09:20 pm (UTC)
Thanks; this series is very thorough. I'm passing it on to a Catholic LJ community.

I read part of Goodbye, Good Men. The friend who gave it to me later said that the practices described therein had reportedly declined significantly.

The part about treatment failure reminds me of C.S. Lewis's insistence that "cures" for criminal behavior were no acceptable substitute for retributive justice.
Apr. 21st, 2010 09:50 pm (UTC)
I just noticed that he misused a term: "They're a panacea, not a solution." I checked several dictionaries, and sure enough, a panacea is simply a cure-all. He seems to think it means something advertised as a cure-all but actually worthless. Understandable, since real panaceas don't exist.
Apr. 21st, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
Want to drastically reduce the sex abuse issue? Don't make celibacy obligatory. As one comedian put it, you have an all-male institution founded on celibacy, put them into dark rooms so they can hear everyone's dirty laundry, and tell them to pray to a virgin if they get aroused by what they hear. Eventually something's going to snap!
Apr. 22nd, 2010 12:40 am (UTC)
As pointed out in Part III of the piece, and I've heard other commentators note, it's not celibacy per se that is the problem — it was instituted in the 15th century because they had a problem with priests, especially in Europe creating ecclesiastical dynasties— but the fact it's a closed system, with only chaste men. This reinforces the notion of protecting one's own, similar to how police forces will form "the thin blue line". Without a diversity of voices, it's hard for them to break out into different perspectives, and focus on something other than protection of the church.

The instances of pedophilia is no greater or less in the population of priests, but because of the group structure, they are held to a higher standard and there is motivation to hide the fact they exist. This has led to the situation we're in today.
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