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Date Posted: 09:46:02 05/31/02 Fri
Subject: Discussion taken to the top (attn Alvin, WE67, and Tweety, esp.)
I didn't get a chance to join in on yesterday's discussion of Priests, pedophilia, homosexuality and celebacy. I thought I'd put my two cents ( or based on the length of this $2 ) worth in now.
Some of these are different, not totally related issues.
I think this is wrong, but I respect the Catholic church's right to structure their beliefs as they see fit. I admire those who find within them the strength to adhere to the doctrine.
I think it is wrong on a couple of levels.
1.) I can find no true basis for it in the Bible. I think it is a custom rather than a requirement of God and that from the onset it was poorly chosen. I don't think habit or tradition should be the basis of keeping any obviously flawed custom.
2.) I think it is nearly impossible for human beings to keep all sexual thoughts out of their minds and all sexual activity out of their lives, this is especially true for men. Thus, I think this practice can lead good people, by doing something that is normal and acceptable in human behavior, to view themselves as sinful and dispicable for having done so. It can force clandestine behavior where none should be needed.
3.) I don't think there is any direct connection between the expression of pedophilic behavior and the requirement for celebacy. I think these predators would find some other means of access to children if they didn't have the priesthood. They would inevitably have been predators with or without celebacy and they tend to use celebacy and other things as a convenient excuse for their abhorent behavior.
Homosexual individuals don't appear to be any more prevalent in the profession of the priesthood than they are in any other profession or in the general population. It's a misconception that celebacy is somehow easier for a homosexual than for a heterosexual. It is also a misconception that priests take the opportunity of being in an all male group or have joined that group in order to practice homosexual behavior. That would be like saying that men play baseball or join the Army just because they can be with other men all the time and practice homosexual behavior.
There is no basis for believing that homosexuality leads to pedophilic behavior. Pedophiles have been found to be most prevalent in the male heterosexual ranks. Some heterosexual men unable to cope with sexual abuses in their own childhood experiences and unable to decide how these experiences reflect on their sexuality become pedophiles. Feelings of powerlessness and self-loathing that often lead to later pedophilia are more common in the heterosexual male that is abused by another man than in the homosexual male. Some studies have indicated that the homosexual male is more likely to respond to childhood abuse by avoiding all sexual contact or by becoming promiscuous in their adult relationships. This is the reaction more aften seen in women who suffer childhood sexual abuse.
Male pedophiles are drawn to boys not because they are homosexuals, but because they are easier and more empowering targets. Boys are less likely to tell than girls. Boys don't get pregnant. Until recently being alone with a boy was less likely to seem suspicious than being with a girl. Sexual abuse is more about power than about sex. The pedophile tends to feel a greater sense of power when he has gained control over a male than when he has gained control over a female. The pedophile tends to target initially the most vulnerable victims - the female child or the young child. He then looks to older victims as he becomes more confident in his power and more emboldened in his approach. This is why these pedophiles eventually work up to teenagers and may even gain the courage eventually to assault an adult.
The Church's role in all this.
Pedophiles will be drawn to professions, living circumstances, and social opportunites that will allow them to access children. The church has to recognize this. They have a responsibility to their parishioners to carefully screen applicants for the priesthood and to keep them under supervised scrutiny in their 1st years of religious service.
Despite the sparsity of available priests, despite the desire to show mercy and forgiveness; the church must separate anyone found to commit an offense from any further opportunity to access his victims, especially in an official capacity. There must be zero tolerance!
Forgiving these people and trying to help them with their affliction is entirely separate from the issue of whether they should face punishment under the law or whether their activities should be restricted and carefully monitored. The church has been wrong in shielding these men. Whether the Church's motives were based on mercy and forgiveness or were politically self-serving, they were wrong. They should admit that and get on with the task of setting new more appropriate policies.
When some of these incidents occurred 20-30 years ago or more, we were much more ignorant as a society and much more inhibited when addressing sexual issues, not that we don't still have a lot of problems in this area. We had the tendency to blame the victim to some extent. A parent of a preteen or teen who was abused, though mad at the abuser, might also say to the child - how could you let him touch you like that? Parents feared the shame and embarrassment, they feared their children would be labeled as homosexual. Our sexual misconceptions and inhibitions as a society, our failure to support and not blame the victim of sexual abuse has exacerbated this problem.
We need for the victims and their families to know they won't be shunned, that they'll be supported and not blamed, that the abuser will receive just punishment and that measures will be taken to prevent future victims.
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