How we do combat the high number of sexual abuse against children in the Catholic Church?
Does the church need to change its rules to accommodate change?
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The Catholic Church has to face up to its child sex abuse issue. To continue denying and ignoring this horrendous internal issue has only made matters worse.
The Australian Royal Comission into sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic Church has begun. The findings thus far are not surprising. 4444 people were allegedly abused as children. This occurred between 1980 and 2015. The number is likely to be higher since not all victims are willing to come forward. This has occurred over the past 35 years and there are allegedly 1,880 perpetrators.
A high number of perpetrators come from the Christian Brothers, St John of God and The Marist Brothers. Vocal victims have been ignored and often punished. Priests were often moved to other parishes instead of being handed over to authorities.
Pastoral apology letters were delivered to churches apologizing for decades of abuse. Tasmanian Archbishop Julian Porteous wrote an open letter apologizing on behalf of the Catholic Church. Porteous runs a child safety program called Safe Communities. I am glad to see he is being proactive in his community.
Other Archbishops have penned letters issuing apologies and asking parishioners to turn to prayers and to Jesus Christ for comfort and answers. Not good enough. Apologies do not even begin to cut it.
We can jail any living clergy men found guilty of sexual abuse allegations. The Catholic church should financially compensate victims. These are good beginnings but they don’t solve the core issue.
Marist priest Michael Whelan said “The most powerful apology we can make is to change”. I completely agree with him. Grass root changes need to occur immediately and it needs to begin with the Catholic Church policy on celibacy.
Celibacy is the core reason for why sexual abuse is so high in the Catholic Church. Non celibacy policy is the reason why sexual abuse in other denominations is so low. The Eastern Orthodox Church won’t allow men to become priests unless they have wives. The Anglican and Protestant faiths allow priests to marry. The Jewish faith allows Rabbis to marry.
A life of abstinence is not natural and it causes various emotional and psychological effects. People are fully aware of the Churche’s celibacy policy before they join. Joining the clergy is not compulsory. There are many members who successfully abstain and don’t harm children. But that does not make this inhumane policy any better.
The instances of sexual abuse are pedophilic acts but I do not believe that all men that have engaged in the abuse would have a pedophilic sexuality. I’m sure a certain portion would, but to dismiss all these priests as pedophiles is too simple. It allows one to put complete blame on the priests.
Sexual abuse is generally about power over the vulnerable and innocent. Power does play a part but power does not drive these acts. It’s the stranglehold of the institution.
The oppression that the Catholic Church inflicts on its clergy people causes sexual repression and serious psychological damage. A person’s natural and legitimate sexuality becomes distorted when it’s repressed. When it’s unleashed it is unhealthy and even dangerous.
Not knowing how to control, curb or unleash this repressed sexuality in a healthy manner leads people to destroy the lives of the most innocent and vulnerable sector of our community.
The driving force behind celibacy is a financially strategic Catholic Church move. The purpose for not allowing priests to marry is wealth acquisition. There is an unwritten rule that pushes for clergy men to leave all their property and assets to the Church when they die. The celibacy policy ensures that they have no children or wives to leave anything to. It’s one of the ways that the Catholic Church has become so wealthy.
The Catholic Church’s wealth is phenomenal. They can do without dead clergy men’s properties and money. I call upon them to change this inhuman policy. Change and reform is the only way to really make a difference.
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