Priestly Love

A new report from Ireland, specifically from the Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, has detailed the cover-up by the hierarchy of the Catholic church which was perpetuated for decades, a “scandal on an astonishing scale”.

The report, which took three years to complete, said the archdiocese had an “obsessive concern with secrecy and the avoidance of scandal” and had “little or no concern for the welfare of the abused child”.

Apparently, there were four archbishops in the archdiocese during the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and none of them ever reported the abuse to the authorities.  The really shocking fact, albeit consistent with religious theology, is the following:

Church authorities used the concept of “mental reservation”, which allows senior clergy to mislead people without being guilty, in the church’s eyes, of lying.

In other words, in order to protect themselves while at the same time maintaining the moral high ground, the Church re-defined the word “lie” so that it didn’t apply to the bishops and priests guilty of lying.

It’s one thing to heap scorn on the men of cloth who actually committed the abuse RAPE OF CHILDREN. I think we can all agree that not one of those priests can honestly claim they acted morally.

However, what is really galling is the hypocrisy of the archbishops hiding the criminal and clearly immoral nature of their priests from the authorities, without any concern for the boys and girls being raped, while at the same time redefining morality for their exclusive use while hearing confessions of admitted liars in their congregations and passing judgment and requiring penance for their “sins”.

This report only covered the three decades referred to, so one can only imagine what life in the hands of the Irish priests was like for even hundreds of years prior to that. And, since the same scandal has been uncovered in the US and elsewhere, this is a global, pandemic cancer on the Catholic Church that has to have been there for a long time. It should also not go unnoticed that the report only deals with the Archdiocese of Dublin. The rest of the country has not been investigated – yet. Given that the report details the actions of only some 42 priests, one can only imagine the number of priests involved throughout the country, and the number of victims.

When a social institution as extensive and pervasive as the Roman Catholic Church, an institution whose authority is derived from its supposedly Christ-instilled sense of morality,  allows such a systematic, widespread and horrific breakdown of the very morality it preaches, it is clear that such a collapse didn’t take place over mere decades. It’s hard to determine exactly what contributed to this, but it seems somewhat self-evident that an institution that has such a moralistic and clearly perverse view of human sexuality, one that does not allow its leaders and officers the normal human outlet of carnal relations, is just asking for a scandal such as this. Such an institution, by its very policies, has to attract the pedophiles, the sexual outcasts, the aberrant humans who do not fit in with normal society. What better place for a pedophile or sexual deviant than a men’s club surrounded by secrecy and ritual, with the history and political and economic power to protect one’s predilections, not to mention ready access to gullible victims?

It’s in times and circumstances like this where it seems that society should really start asking itself some hard questions, such as  – Is religion really a force for good, or are we just deluding ourselves?

I’d love to see the day when the church comes out and says “All that talk about God? Disregard it. None of it’s true. There is no god. But you people who have been slavishly devoted to the church, you can still accomplish outside of church the same things you’ve aspired to in the church. Just continue to stick together, keep your eye on the good of humanity, treat your neighbor like you’d want to be treated, and the world will be a better place.”

I’ll see you at next week’s spaghetti dinner. It’s in the basement of the former Church of the Holy Trinity. We’re all getting together to plan the next charity drive.

No clergy allowed.

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15 thoughts on “Priestly Love

  1. Such an institution, by its very policies, has to attract the pedophiles, the sexual outcasts, the aberrant humans who do not fit in with normal society.

    A few years back, I had some long conversations with a ‘failed’ priest — before ordination, he decided he could not be who he was and be a priest so he joined the BLM (we both worked night shift security at a fire (lots of time for talking)). His take on the child rape and abuse was that Catholic priests, whether gay, straight, bi, or other, never grew up emotionally. The extreme heirarchical structure, as well as the early commitment among some priests (not the actual ordination, of course, but many of them know they will pursue the priesthood while still in high school) creates an environment in which, for interpersonal relationships, most fron-line priests are stalled out at about 12 years old and some engage in the same hetero and homosexual experimentation of other children that age. The problem is, the 12-year-old priest is a 40-year-old man with the sexual maturity level of a 12-year-old.

    Not sure if he is right or not, but it would explain the seeming system-wide incidence of such cases. The patriarchal heirarchy and the lack of any allowable sexual outlet or mechanism for sexual maturation may create a propensity for child rapists rather than attract them.

    Or, as a bumper sticker put it: “Abstinence Makes the Church Grow Fondlers”.

    Obviously, some, if not most, priests do not become predators. I would hope that the Catholic Church is spending some of their billions looking for the differences. Of course, your suggestion — do good without the supernatural oogabooga and use the money keeping the clergy alive to do some real good.

    Sorry for the long comment. Occupational hazard and all that.

    • Long comments are always welcome.

      One other aspect of this I forgot to mention was that the Catholic Church, in particular, with its confessional and absolution of all sins after penance, allows a priest to confess his sexual indiscretions with minors, say a few Hail Mary’s and Our Father’s, and be absolved of all guilt before the only judge they deem important – their god. Most likely that was the thinking of their superiors too.

      I think this aspect of Catholicism makes the doing of evil that much easier, when one “knows” it doesn’t matter what the effect on the victim is, as long as god will forgive you if you simply ask. A pedophile who believes this can just keep on going, like the Energizer Bunny.

  2. They’re not real Christians. The Catholic church isn’t the true church. Well, that was Ireland.

    Just thought I’d do a preemptive excuse strike before the Christians showed up. 😉

    Mental reservation is a new one for me. I’ll give the Catholics this though, they still manage to surprise you. Just when you think you can’t be surprised by anything they could ever say or do, you get mental reservation.

    • I was thinking of throwing in the preemptive stuff, but thought it best for the comments. I know that would be the response of He-Who-Is-Giddy. Thanks for doing that for me. Go Team Scarlet A! 😉

  3. Isn’t it odd how there is always a ‘coalition of the willing’ to cover up and even defent the misdeeds od those with power? What do they get out of it: the cops, the “community leaders”…?

    One of my wife’s elderly relatives, then in her late eighties, once told about how her mother, in one of those serious talks when she was a girl, told her that sometimes the priest might need “comforted”, and she was not to balk at providing it.
    She asked what that might be and was given Signifigant Looks, eye rolls, and meaningful sounds. She said she never found out first hand.

    The cover-up happens here, too. A person I know who WAS a preist left because of things he experienced. He caught a colleague “mistreating” a young man and “went through channels” to have something done about it.
    He found out that when the monsignor, top cops, and local big-wigs have all gone to school together and are on a first name basis you ain’y goon get far. In fact, HE was the problem.
    Sooo, being as he grew up in, and in fact ‘served’ in a coal town (or what’s left of them these days) he had a more “direct” way of dealing with his “erring” colleague (beat the shit out of him), and walked away from the whole thing. He left some signs of his, um, disaffection behind. He doubts that they’ll want him back.

    Today he manages a Sheetz, and attends a UU congregation, both much more to his liking. It’s all cleaner and more honest, he says.

    He said he did some “childish” things

  4. I really don’t think that it has much to do with gay priests or pedophile priests or emotionally-stunted priests. When you take ordinary people and deny them a biologically necessary act, they will do whatever it takes to perform said biological imperative. That’s why you see such a rise in gay sex in prisons. It’s not because these men are gay, it’s because they have no other alternatives. The same is true in the priesthood, these men need some sexual outlet and their most available resource happens to be children so they make use of that resource.

    There’s an ongoing independent study that I wrote about not long ago ( that shows the problem isn’t with the priesthood, it’s with the policies that keep these men sexless.

    • That’s a good point, and perhaps it’s a question of what comes first, the chicken or the egg. Are they pedophiles because they are in an institution that leaves them no outlet for their biological urges, or are they attracted to the institution because they are pedophiles? It could be a little of both.

      Interesting study you cite. The conclusions are identical to the one from Ireland in many respects:

      Bishops, who had routinely protected pedophile priests from prosecution, were found to be a major contributing factor. “The dioceses did respond to many cases of abuse,” Terry said. “However, their responses focused primarily on priests rather than the victims. Their overwhelming focus was to find a resolution for the priests. . . . While the diocesan leadership showed concern for the well-being of the priest there was little evidence of concern for the well-being of the victims.”

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  6. How many reports like this will it take for people to say “Fuck You!” to the Catholic Church and get the hell out of there? How many reports like this will it take for governments to prosecute the offenders in these cases? How many reports like this will it take for everyone to realize that it wasn’t just Ireland (not that location matters – one vile violation, anywhere, is too often)?

    And, why does it seem like atheists are the only ones interested in holding the RC Church accountable for this shit? I think we all have some ideas about the answer to that question, don’t we, boys and girls?

  7. How many reports like this will it take for people to say “Fuck You!” to the Catholic Church and get the hell out of there?

    Chaplain, as en ex-Catholic (though I was only 19 when I left some two decades ago) I suspect many Catholics differentiate between the “magisterium” of the Church and the actions of individuals within the church. Also, as prevalent as these reports are, the vast majority of Catholics likely never encounter these situations and don’t see it as affecting them. Instead, it’s something they read in the news that happens to somebody else.

    When you inculcate a belief that an institution such as the Catholic Church is God’s representative on Earth, and your family members are all believers and milestones in your life and the lives of your children are marked by ceremonies such as baptism, communion and confirmation, it’s kind of hard to just chuck all that away. That’s the best explanation I can come up with.

    • I hate the Magisterium, always stealing kids’ souls and stuff like that.

      …you know, I initially meant that as a goofy His Dark Materials reference, but it kind of actually does work. That kinda scares me…

  8. Given the OP topic, my previous comment as stated was directed at Catholics, but my frustration is really directed at all theists. Knowing how long it took me to walk away from religion, though, I actually do know the answers to the questions I asked. The sectarianism of Protestantism makes it very easy to look at members of other churches and say, “Well, those people belong to that denomination, not ours. We’re different.” It’s probably just as easy for Catholics in Pittsburgh to say, “Well, those things were done by some priests in Boston and Philadelphia, not our priests.”

  9. Budhist monks are celebate that they don’t have this problem. This problem is only with Abrahamic religion and culture.

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