Thursday, April 22, 2010

Pedophilia and the Catholic Church

I'd like to take a different approach that many or most seem to take, which seems to mostly be Pope-bashing, Priest-bashing, and sooner or later various legal actions which will be invariably labelled as "trying to send a message" but seem more like trying to make some money out of this.

From a medical-psychological point-of-view, there needs to be a realization that while this may not be epidemic in the clergy, but certainly at some level it seems to be an endemic problem. We might react by saying that pedophilia is a widespread societal problem, which I suppose is true enough, but we are dealing here with a segment of the population espousing the highest moral standards.

Maybe there is some cathartic effect of repentance, bashing pedophilic priests, paying out sums of money, but I see a number of questions that arise.

1. Do we understand how it is that some men choosing to enter the priesthood might have these kinds of issues? What is it about their backgrounds that may lead to this?

2. What is the culture of the seminary which, depending on ones perspective, either is unaware of these things, or perhaps fosters them in some way? We certainly have heard tales of sexual behaviors in seminaries -- is this widespread?

3. How can the modern Church reconcile these problems with the steadfast maintenance of the idea that priests must be unmarried and celibate? Is celibacy or the pretense of celibacy a root cause of the problem?

To me these are the far more important questions we should be asking the Vatican to answer.