Thursday, April 13, 2006

Good Friday On Catholic Crutches

I have debated for a while if I want to write about the Catholic Church situation. Specifically, I am referencing the situation they find themselves in with regard to their priests and their rampant abuse of young males. I am using the term ‘they’ because I am not Catholic. I am married to one however; which reminds of the tag line to the Holiday Inn commercial “No, but I did sleep in a Holiday Inn last night.” Being married to a Catholic probably does not qualify me for this discussion, but being a middle-aged male and having a sense of natural order and natural desire certainly does qualify me.

Do I have an issue with the Catholic Church? I do. I have been watching these stories of the priests and their predilection for sex with young boys as it has unfolded and made national headlines. I recognize that I am making a declaration of judgment here and I accept the consequences in doing so. I do believe this is an unnatural behavior, a behavior pattern being driven by the failure to develop a healthy sexuality. Central to the development of the unhealthy response lies the initial denial of the sexual response in specific. I do understand intellectually that the vow of abstinence involves sacrifice and commitment to an ideal; that concept and church legacy is not lost on me. But it appears also that the vow is nevertheless being broken in a wholly unnatural manner, rendering the vow moot and broken into tiny shards across these mens robes as viewed through anyone’s rosy set of glasses.

Still the churches rose colored gasses remain glued to their resolute faces and priests are moved from parish to parish to evade conviction and to enable the behavior in another place and another time. If you search the facts of these cases many of these men have not been charged, let alone convicted, despite practicing the abuse for many years. A man without a priestly standing engaged in these criminal acts is typically convicted, publicly persecuted and stigmatized for the rest of his life; offered up as a sex offender complete with neighborhood handouts declaring his offense and containing his photograph. Those with the priestly standing often go right on ‘priesting’ and as history illustrates they continue abusing.

Now change directions with me.

Would we not be startled to see geese fly north for the winter?

Nature has a progression and order that is not easily confused, disguised or distorted. This fact, in my opinion, is too often overlooked as we explore situations like the one above. The naturalness of a feeling or action may vary from individual to individual, reflecting the unique circumstances of that persons understanding, education and history, but the global natural order of things does not materially change in my opinion.

This path of course leads to examining the naturalness of grown men of alleged spiritual power having sex with under age males. It calls into question the recent flurry of female teachers having sex with their early teens students. Are these natural acts? I think they are distortions of a natural desire suppressed, then acted upon in an unnatural manner. The writings of Wilhelm Reich come immediately to mind, but remain to be explored in a separate post. Priests without an outlet, female teachers out of touch with their adulthood and fearful of inordinate adult male controls. The audio tape of Florida teacher Deborah LaFave asking her 13 year old victim to make a ‘pinky promise’ in a little girl voice is chilling and illustrative of this point.

The resolution to the abuse of these young boys is complex in application and worthy of an entire book by someone with credentials suitable to the task. I do not pretend to lead the elephant from the room, but only to point at the pachyderm and declare it real; a beast that has left enormous droppings on the floor.

I do offer two personal thoughts.

The discernment of natural order from the unnatural is difficult with one’s eyes and minds closed tightly shut; or through rose colored glasses permanently stuck to the face.


The geese will not be flying north for the winter anytime soon.


Angie said...

I had to think about this before I could comment. The one thought that kept crossing my mind was a phrase..."we covet what we see daily". It's not a very complex explanation of why but an explanation nonetheless. As for the Church, I will say one thing...blind faith in any organization should be questioned. Not faith in God but faith in the organization itself.

Christian said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Seven said...

Oops, too many typos above so I deleted it.
Yes and I consider myself to be aspiritual person; raised in the church. It was my second home. There is a C&W lyric "he's been to church more than Billy Graham" which describes my childhood.
I think it may be the underlying cause for this discussion on my part. The idea that the spiritual leadership of the Catholic Church is failing and covering its eyes I find sad; but it is all so very complex isn't it?

Angie said...

Yes, (and no offense to Mrs. Rick) the Church leadership has a history of sticking their fingers in their ears and saying "nanananana, I can't hear you" when it comes to something they don't want to deal with. But then I guess we can all be that way at times. I guess they are no different than many families who know the abuse is happening among them yet fail to stop it. It's the one thing that allows the cycle to continue. Oh, such a deep discussion for a Friday!

Reach said...

Wow Rick,
I would like to begin with stating, this post was well thought and translated to the written form. Good Job! Not to go on and on about this subject, but, I am baptized into the Lutheran Church- that is my history for topic relativity.
I think this is a perfect example of “Evolution” within the church. To my understanding, the church does not fully recognized “modern” psychology, but maintains “their” teachings of counseling; I believe there are issues here, to which can be explained and rectified. The Priests, being segregated by sexual orientation and have taken the vow of abstinence of sex ‘with women’ (old teachings), are resorting back to a primal characteristic. By stating this, I am referring to the 'alpha male' dog over the pack; this is only nature of the “pack” mentality.
In truth, I direct my concern to the young child, whose family is directing his life into the Priesthood, would statistically; repeat the events with the reversal of roles. I tend to think of this whole topic as a “Cancer” with the Organized Church.
I attempted to keep this short, however, how can this be condensed.

Reach said...

I apologize, I did not mean "sexual orientation", I meant segregated by sex.


Grant said...

One of the things that really bothers me about the church scandal is how its members don't demand that the church officials clean up the mess. Even before it hit the news, Catholics I know used to remark on the creepy look their priest gave the altar boys when they marched in. When the story involving Cardinal Law broke, they all said "Oh, that's up North. It doesn't happen in Atlanta." When it happened in Atlanta, they pointed out a) it was a different church than theirs, and b) they were tired of discussing it. They still have their children in the same church ministered by the same creepy priest. I think loyalty to the church has been drilled into these people from birth. Still, I don't understand why otherwise moral and decent people are so willing to offer their children up as sacrifices.

When the sex scandal first broke big time, there was also a news report about a Baptist preacher who had molested some teens. That church immediately suspended him, called the police, and offered free counseling to those abused. Too bad you don't see the same care or concern coming from Vatican City.

Seven said...


Seven said...

Thoughtful analysis. I had not really thought of the pack mentality aspect. The corollary of the phrase "If it's not broken, don't fix it" is certainly at play here. That is: It's broken! Are you going to fix it?

Reach said...

I do agree, unfortunately they will not fix what they can/will not see. This brings to mind of the "Three Monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil".

Have a good weekend, my friend.


Jenn said...

Hey Rick -

I was driving this weekend and a billboard caught my eye and made me think of this post.

In gigantic lettering were the words:

"Having sexual thoughts about children?"

Then there was a phone number to call: 1-800-PREVENT

At first glance, I thought it said: 1-800-PERVERT, and sadly - that made sense to me.

What kind of world do we live in when there are billboards like that? I mean - I guess it's good there's help out just really brought it home that the world is a dangerous place to be sometimes.