17 December 2014

OZ and pervert priests and Celibacy

It is a sound rule never to criticise the words of others unless one has read them carefully and in full. So I Fess Up now, and apologise in advance, if my admitted failure to do this has led to my being unfair in what follows.

Rumour has it, back here in far-away Blighty, that a report  generated somewhere within the Australian Catholic Church has raised a question about a possible relationship between the law of Celibacy, the style of Formation of the Catholic Clergy: and clerical sexual abuse of minors.

If such possibilities were to be explored further and in greater depth, I am in the happy position of being able to suggest a number of extremely helpful lines of enquiry.
(1) It seems to me, anecdotally and from my own experience in my four decades in the Anglican Priesthood, that there is quite a bit of sexual abuse in the Church of England (and that it is by no means confined to unmarried clergy). Australian investigators might like to begin their researches by reading the reports about the scandals and cover-ups in the diocese of Chichester, and those relating to the former Dean of Manchester. Much of this is available online. And the Church of England has not imposed celibacy for some 450 years, and trains its clergy in quite a different way from the Catholic Church. Just as medical researchers like to have 'control groups', so might those researching clerical sexual perversion.
(2) Over here, recently, the Scouts have been paying out big time for abuse by Scoutmasters. Indeed, since the 1920s, if not earlier, 'scoutmasters' have been a common source of vulgar jocosity with regard to paederasty. No law of celibacy there. The Scouts could provide another 'control group'.
(3) Our own much loved Beeb has recently had ginormously large problems in this area. Sir Jimmy Savilles appear, in the past at least, to have carpeted the studios wall to wall! Another culprit sentenced just yesterday. Not much evidence of a law of celibacy in Broadcasting House! A veritably magnificent potential 'control group'.
(4) Our late Holy Father Pope Benedict advanced the theory that the promotion by those teaching in seminaries, during and after the 1960s, of 'relativistic' theories regarding ethical issues, in which nothing is per se wrong, may have contributed to the problem of what, rather neatly, he called 'the filth'. This intellectual fashion cannot be the entire cause of sexual delinquency among Catholic Clergy down the ages; after all, for centuries, Roman Pontiffs were obliged to legislate against Sollicitatio (although that seems generally to have applied to delicts with adult women). But, I would have thought, the suggestion is well worth going into.
(5) Since the 1960s, there has been much talk about mercy, and forgiveness, and similar very splendid things. It has been an era in which we have been urged not to be too preoccupied with sin, particularly sexual sin. A Catholic priest with much professional competence in this area has explained to me that one psychological reason for the bitter hatred of the Extraordinary Form among senior clergy of a certain age has been that they associate it with a cruel, rigid, sin-obsessed sex-proccupied form of Catholicism upon which they look back with fear and detestation. So: 'merciful' bishops were disinclined to 'ruin' a priest for 'just one lapse', or even two or three. Or four. After all, as we have been informed over and over again, sexual sins are not the only sorts of sins; spiritual sins such as Pride, and sins against Social Justice, are far more displeasing in the sight of God than mere lapses from Chastity. Our Oz friends could look into the problem of 'liberal' bishops as well.
(6) My own, again anecdotal, experience has inclined me to think that 'charismatic' leaders, admired by the media and surrounded by adoring groupies, can be peculiarly vulnerable to sexual temptation. J F Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and, within the Church, bishop Eamonn Casey ... and Fr Macial Maciel ... and Fr Lelio Cantini ... spring to mind; and one bishop of my acquaintance in the Church of England was another. He was held in such tremendously high regard, not least in the very highest reaches of the British Establishment, that after acknowledging his guilt, accepting a police warning, and resigning his diocese, he immediately started spreading it around that he was completely innocent, but had pleaded guilty to save the Church the embarrassment of a public trial. This claim was accepted by people unwilling to face up to the fact that they had been gullible dupes. So plausible was he that his one-time diocesan superior, when he came later to write his own autobiography, roundly asserted the total innocence of his fellow-bishop and put the entire episode down to a Wicked Plot. I think psychometric experts should examine with even more than their usual acuity candidates for ordination who are at the extreme 'extrovert' end of the spectrum. Oz could look into this side of things as well.
(7) I sometimes wonder if somebody should keep an eye on the troubling question of false or possibly false accusations, sometimes, conceivably, financially generated.
(8) A competent historian might be able to unearth interesting parallels between the present atmosphere, and the use, by the National Socialists, of sexual allegations in order to discredit the clergy and the Catholic Church.
(9) Finally, a somewhat dangerous suggestion. Some say that the pervert priest phenomenon sometimes relates to activity with teenage boys rather than with those properly called children, and in some such cases should be seen as a product of a homosexual orientation. This suggestion creates great outcries of "Homophobia!!". Ideological promoters of homosexualism as a political cause mercilessly persecute anybody guilty of such talk (which, indeed, certainly ought not to be spread thickly around with an indiscriminate brush of generalisation). But if, down in Oz, they really do want to get this business sussed, they should leave no stone unturned. Brave the inevitable huffing and puffing and examine this one too!

Perhaps readers will be able to add (10), (11), and (12)? I'm sure the Wise Men from the Oz could do with all the help they can get.
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ADDENDUM I believe it is important not to use the existence of abuse in other groups as a justification for any toleration of abuse in the Church. The Church should not be just-a-little-bit-better than the BBC! My point, which I make three times, is that anybody who wants to do a scientific investigation about alleged links between Celibacy and Pedophilia should do what researchers in other disciplines do: use 'control groups' to discern whether there is a statistical correlation.

A logical question which would remain with regard to pedophile priests and celibacy is: were they perverts who sought the clerical state because of the obscene opportunities it provided; or did celibacy (as the Oz report is inclined to suggest) predispose them to an orientation which they did not have previously?

7 comments:

GOR said...

10. An in-depth examination of the incidence of abuse in the Education system – by men and women, married and single – might elicit some revealing statistics. That claims for monetary redress are capped - at least here in the US - may have a bearing on the rarity of legal suits in this matter, lawyers being disinclined to assume cases which do not produce multi-million dollar settlements.

vetusta ecclesia said...

I understand that statistically doctors, farmers and sports coaches are more likely to be abusers than priests. Of course the homosexual lobby are keen to label all abuse by clergy as paedophilia as otherwise it is what many of them advocate and would like legalised.

Janet said...

Yes, there's been uproar from the faithful here in Australia.
Some comments are at the Into the Deep blog: http://stoneswillshout.com/wp/?p=657
And the actual Truth Justice and Healing document is at http://www.tjhcouncil.org.au/media/89932/TJHC-Activity-Statement_FINAL-02-web-Medium.pdf (reference to "obligatory celibacy" on page 23)

Peregrinus Toronto said...

#? The grooming of children for sexual availability in state run schools should be explored. In Ontario, Canada, the charged, but as yet unconvicted former Deputy Minister of Education, Bernard Levin, is facing seven charges of paedophilia, international distribution of pornography, and consorting to assist others in paedophile rings.

He and his then Minister (now Premier) Kathleen Wynne are notoriously the authors of an outrageous "sex ed, curriculum" which was designed to encourage children in primary schools to experiment sexually, question "gender identity" and familiarize themselves with "protection" and other sex materials.

When this grooming curriculum was first presented some years back and before Levin was charged, the public campaign to stop its implementation forced then Premier McGuinty to withdraw it.

Premier Wynne, a self-proclaimed lesbian, has announced plans to reintroduce the grooming curriculum. She was photographed before Levin's charges sitting with her friend Ben Levin, national Liberal leader Trudeau and other left wing worthies at the International Gay Pride Parade in Toronto reviewing the various nude and lewd floats in that display of every form of sexual "choice" to which people were urged to "bring the family and enjoy the parade."

Yes, there is a great deal to consider, celibacy being one of the least of our concerns in the colonies, I should think.

Mike Hurcum said...

I visited a sex prison for two years the % of predators in this prison on the average was 40% teachers, one Catholic Priest in the whole two years and even the guards and the RCMP were convinced of his innocence. I heard the claim made the wrong priest was charged. He sat on the roof of the prison hospital most days.

Deacon Augustine said...

If they really think that celibacy is causing all these men to be paedophiles, where do they think they are going to find women who will want to marry them?

I'm sure every good woman dreams of walking back up the aisle arm in arm with a paedo. Not.

Jacobi said...

It has been fashionable for a long time now to imply that sexual abuse is rampant amongst Catholic priests in particular.

Inconvenient things such as facts have not been permitted to get in the way.

The reality is that other religions are worse, as are the teaching profession, social care professions and of course, the family. The figure for priests in the UK is actually quite low (see articles by Brendon O’Neill and Andrew Brown and the John Jay Institute).

This problem is declining particularly in the Church in the UK because it is now openly recognised and firm action has been taken by the Hierarchy.

Two personal observations if I may. The search for monetary compensation will undoubted be a factor for some time to come and, secondly, I often wonder, particularly with youths, say 15 or sixteen if there is a degree on complicity.

Let’s put it this way if anyone, priest or otherwise had tried that on me or my pals from the age of 12/13, the response would have been a boot in the you know whats or at least a half brick to the back of the head as we fled.

But then we were a rough lot in those days.