Monday, August 15, 2011
Pedophilia and Priests
What is the matter with the priesthood? Why is it a cesspool of pedophilia? What is it about the priesthood which draws or influences men toward this sort of behavior?
I do not want to be misleading here, I do not think all priests are child molesters. My issue is not even with the cover ups, though they are despicable and revolting. My issue is with the seemingly disproportionate number of cases where priests have molested children. Either there is a larger number of pedophiles in the priesthood or there are undiscovered pedophiles in all manor of industry who need to be rooted out. I agree with the former.
Here is where, I think, the practical world has screwed with the church. Lets say there is a Catholic boy growing up and suffers from pedophilic tendencies and acknowledges they are bad. He seeks guidance and help from the bible and the church. He devotes his life to trying to subdue this urge. I would commend him for this. He chooses a life of celibacy to avoid the whole situation and the priesthood gives one a paycheck and an excuse for not consorting with women. Problem solved, right? Well, this guy has sought no real counseling or psychological treatment, he has just tried to hide the feelings from himself and others.
Now our priest is given authority over people and especially children. He is seen as pious and above reproach. As we all know power is very hard to control when you want something you should not want. Once the word gets out to his higher ups he is moved to a new parish. I am sure he feels he could seek guidance from God and start anew. He also has suffered very little real world punishment and received no psychological help. Now he is back in power over small children. This can go on and on as long as the church tries to avoid public scrutiny.
I am not claiming that the vow of celibacy makes priests celibate, I am just asking if you had a clearly deviant sexual desire and really believed in the healing power of God wouldn't the priesthood be a place you could end up? This would cause the disproportionate number of pedofiles in the priesthood and the church's desire to hide the problem does not allow the evolutionary nature of groups to weed out, over time, those unfit by way of perversion.
This post is a bit of a thought exercise for me so please send me some feedback if you like, I would love to hear it.
Notes on clerical celibacy:
The priestly vows are inherently sexual. They ask humans to deny a basic biological function as a sign of devotion to the almighty. Why? Pope Gregory VII decreed that no married man could be a member of the priesthood in 1075. More than half the history of Catholicism priests have had the option of marriage. In 1123 the First Lateran Counsel adopted two interesting Cannons.
Cannon 3: We absolutely forbid priests, deacons, and subdeacons to associate with concubines and women, or to live with women other than such as the Nicene Counsel for reasons of necessity permitted, namely, the mother, sister, or aunt, or any such person concerning whom no suspicion could arise.
Cannon 21: We absolutely forbid priests, deacons, subdeacons, and monks to have concubines or to contract marriage. We decree in accordance with the definitions of the sacred cannons, that marriages already contracted by such persons must be dissolved, and that the persons be condemned to do penance.
Sixteen years later, in 1139, the Second Lateran Counsel enacted the following cannons:
Cannon 6: We also decree that those who in the subdiaconate and higher orders have contracted marriage or have concubines, be deprived of their office and ecclesiastical benefice. For since they should be and be called the temple of God, vessel of the Lord, the abode of the Holy Spirit, it is unbecoming that they indulge in marriage and in impurities.
Cannon 7: Following in the footsteps of our predecessors, the Roman pontiffs Gregory VII, Urban, and Paschal, we command that no one attend the masses of those who are known to have wives or concubines. But that the law of continence and purity, so pleasing to God, may become more general among persons constituted in sacred orders, we decree that bishops, priests, deacons, subdeacons, cannons regular, monks and professed clerics (conversi) who, transgressing the holy precept, have dared to contract marriage, shall be separated. For a union of this kind which has been contracted in violation of the ecclesiastical law, we do not regard as matrimony. Those who have been separated from each other, shall do penance commensurate with such excesses.