Catholics, Police Must Act to Stop Sexual Abuse in the Church

It’s way past time to save the children, and punish the guilty.


By John Aloysius Farrell, Thomas Jefferson Street blog

One can argue, in the abstract, that it is admirable for the members of the Catholic clergy to renounce their sexuality.

It is an impressive sacrifice, and daily proof of their faith in God and Eternal Bliss, for priests and nuns to deny their body's most compelling urge; to forswear the love and companionship of a spouse, and forever forfeit the special joy of a home and children.

And who is to say that, should the pope make celibacy a voluntary choice for some or all orders of the clergy, that the church would not merely substitute one form of scandal for another? The current shame may only be replaced by accounts of divorce or adultery.

Yet the horror of the latest revelations of perversion and child abuse, and institutional cover-ups, should add to the weight of the evidence that something is horribly wrong in Peter's church, and must be changed.

This terrible scandal is now measured in decades. In one new case, which made its way to the desk of the man who now is pope, hundreds of little deaf boys, given to the protection of the church, were sexually abused, and the abuser sheltered by the Catholic hierarchy.

Clearly, there is something in celibacy that is drawing psychologically damaged individuals to the priesthood. I suppose these poor men seek to sublimate sexual urges that they find disturbing. Their particular creed, after all, is a great condemner of homosexuality. Inevitably some crack. And too, too many end up fondling and raping little boys.

There is no biblical teaching that insists on celibate male priests. Rabbis and Protestant ministers get married. The Catholics even welcome married ministers of other faiths as converts.

The old men who run the Catholic Church, of course, have a lifetime invested in the tradition. Change will be difficult. God may have to reveal the way to this pope, or another.

In the meantime, Catholics have a moral responsibility to insist on action. Silence in the face of such evil is itself a grievous sin; we are complicit in each case of molestation.

If the accounts of his failure to act are true, the pope should step down, as an act of penance. And Catholics must be vigilant, and insist that law enforcement authorities aggressively investigate reports of abuse, and bring the full weight of the criminal code down on the abusers and those who protected them--no matter how high and mighty the titles. It is way past time to save the children.

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