Saturday, April 3, 2010

Clergy Sex Abuse Is Again in the World Headlines -- 1

Pope Benedict XVI

Photo courtesy: The Internet

The world news media are hot with the news and both informed and uninformed opinions on the Catholic clergy sex abuse of underage children. First, years earlier, the abuse cases came to limelight in the USA, then Canada and Australia. Presently, they are in Ireland, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, and Brazil.

Recently Pope Benedict XIV expressed his anguish and apology for the widespread clergy sex abuse in Ireland. The victims of the abuse were not happy, they expected more than apology from the pope. Then came the news that in Germany, when pope Benedict was an archbishop, a sex-abusing priest, instead of being punished, was allowed to return to his work. But, the Vatican denied this, saying that Archbishop Ratzinger (the pope's former position) was not aware of the priest's return to work without undergoing sufficient rehabilitation. Many people are demanding that the pope resigns from his position. There were also other allegations that the future pope as a cardinal, based in Rome, told bishops to deal with sexual abuse cases secretly instead of reporting them to the police. All these allegations and surmises are taking up a lot of space in news media.

Bishops Defend Pope Benedict XVI

The U.S. bishops and some other bishops in Europe and other parts of the world are defending Pope Benedict XIV and saying that it was this pope, rather than any other pope before him, who took actions on priestly sex abuses rather than avoiding the issues or keeping silent.

Archbishop Thomas Collins of Toronto, Canada, speaking recently at a Mass at St. Michael's Cathedral to 400 priests who renewed their vows as part of the Easter season, said: "We cannot escape the horror of this by pointing out that almost all priests serve faithfully -- though that fact is a grace that gives joy to the Catholic people," reports the National Post. "But even one priest gone wrong causes immense harm, and throughout the world priest have done unspeakable evil."

Archbishop Collins further said: "We should be grateful for the attention which the media devotes to the sins of the Catholic clergy, even if constant repetition may give the false impression that Catholic clergy are particularly sinful. That attention is a profound tribute to the priesthood....People instinctively expect holiness in a Catholic priest, and are especially appalled when he does evil." Later after the Mass, he said outside the Cathedral: " A priest is supposed to be a holy person you can trust. If he's not, then that's news. If it wasn't, that would be a terrible thing."

Archbishop Collins dismissed allegations against the pope as "unfair and unjust." He said: "[Pope Benedict] has acted decisively, fairly, consistently and courageously to purify the priesthood and to make the Church a safe place for everyone." After the Mass, archbishop further said: "He [Pope Benedict] is a fair and loving and holy man and when he sees evil he has dealt with it. It's amazing that people who were so critical of him for being so strict now say he was too lax."

Further Observations on the Clergy Sex and Sex Abuse Issues

In the past, we made some observations on the clergy sex and sex abuse, now we make further observations on the same subject in the light of the events in the news.

  • It can't be denied that where there's sex (organ), there's sexuality. For this reason we have specific terms for different types of sexuality -- spousal sex (husband-wife sex), auto-sex (self abuse or masturbation), incest (illicit sex between closest relatives), fornication (sex between two unmarried people), adultery (one married person having sex with another person who is not married to him or her), homosexuality or gay sex (between male and male or between female and female), bestiality (human sex with animals), pederasty or pedophilia (between an adult and a child), sodomy or anal sex, polygamy (one male with many wives), polyandry (one female with many husbands), group sex, oral sex, inhibited or repressed sex and so on. Roman Catholic priests, after prolonged training willingly enter the priesthood and take the vow of chastity (keeping away from sex) and lead a celibate (unmarried) life. Although they have same sex urges as any other men, they are supposed to keep their sex inhibited or repressed as they dedicate themselves fully in the service of God and the Church. History testifies that priestly or clergy sex and sex abuse, although practised by a minority, was always there from the beginning of the Catholic priesthood. Some early Church Fathers had spoken publicly against priestly sex and sex abuse. Later centuries also saw such priestly crimes and indiscretions.

  • The ball of clergy sex abuse is again in the Catholic Church's court. This time the ball is in the Church's court in a big way reaching all the way to the Pope. How this is dealt with this time will mark the future course of history of the Church. It should be taken into account that clergy sex and sex abuse is not limited in a country or continent only, it is global -- it is existing in every country and culture. Some countries' cases did not come to public limelight does not mean that these are not happening there. On this v-e-r-y v-e-r-y serious matter, the Church leaders must not hide their heads in the sand like the ostrich, nor should they behave like the see-nothing, speak-nothing and hear-nothing monkey. This attitude will not solve the problem, it will only exacerbate it.

  • Inordinate media coverage should not be treated as a nuisance. Some Churchmen think that the inordinate interest of the media -- thought to be a hounding by the media -- is uncalled for and it verges on indecency. If the persistent media coverage weren't there in the cases of the Boston Archdiocese clergy sex abuse in the USA, the truth would not come out and the veil of silence and secrecy wouldn't have broken exposing the criminal priests. The continuous shifting of these abusing priests from one parish or institution to the other wouldn't also have stopped. The abused boys, whose innocence was most blatantly robbed by these priests, also would not get justice in the long run.
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