Monday, May 4, 2009

The Catholic Church Was Well Aware of Pedophillia Years Before "it" All Went Public

The letter of Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald was recently published in the National Catholic Reporter. Fitzgerald is a priest who specializes in the treatment of sexually abusive priests. He warned leaders, after becoming aware of the prevalence of the problem, that sexually abusive priests should be defrocked. In fact, he felt they were rather "beyond the point of redemption"-- at least in this matter-- and should perhaps be exiled to a Caribbean island. He wrote the pope (Paul VI) of priests addicted to sexually abnormal practices, the dangers they posed to youth, and the urgency of action called for by the situation. He wrote repeatedly to Catholic bishops in the 1950's and 1960's and personally to the pope in 1963.

As is apparent, his concerns went largely unheeded. Bishops merely "moved" offending priests around. Victims were often made to feel like they were victimizers. It is difficult to understand the status that priests occupy in the eyes of the Catholic faithful (less today). In many ways, it seemed to me as if they were (are?) held in an almost divine status.

But, then again, it makes some sense. The Catholic Church is an authoritarian hierarchy that claims to hold the "keys to the Kingdom." It is a dangerous thing to risk dissent when the priests and bishops have the power to forgive sin, and the whole system is lead by an individual claiming infallibility derived from God Almighty.

In the recent book, Losing My Religion: How I Lost My Faith Reporting on Religion in America-and Found Unexpected Peace, Former LA Times Religion writer William Lobdell recounts how his investigative reporting of the clergy sex abuse scandal became one of the main influences in his abandoning religion (certainly not the only factor). At the time when he began investigating, he was deeply involved in RCIA(the adult initiation right of the Catholic Church. Yet, he knew it just wouldn't work. He simply could not, in good conscience, unite himself with those making high moral claims nor accept the moral superiority of Christians making those claims when such little evidence of moral superiority existed.

This sort of situation (the sex scandal) is not unique to Catholicism. Witness evangelicals Swaggart, Bakker, and, more recently, Haggard. We could also write volumes about more flamboyant figures as Benny Hinn, Robert Tilton and others mostly interested in money. Or what of the political powerbrokers in ecclesiastical trappings (Robertson, Dobson, etc.)? Whenever people have almost near absolute control over the thinking of others-- usually willingly granted them by those very folks wanting some other person or organization to think for them-- Watch out! Danger is not far away.

1 comment:

  1. It's time for the Roman Catholic Church to grow up and end mandatory celebacy!