Church critics fail to understand the causes of abuse

When the first priest sex scandal was exposed, it lead to a chain of events that was nearly catastrophic for the Catholic church. An endless stream of people came out of the woodwork to accuse the Church of hiding many known sex scandals. Caught off guard, the church had many sins to account for, but not nearly as many as an average observer would think.

Because I am writing about a sensitive subject, I would first like to say a few things up front.

First, while only less than four percent of clergy is accused, that is still four percent too many.

Second, the victims need all the care and help that they can get to overcome this dark time in their lives. That being said, the scandal is poorly represented in the media.

The media does not misconstrue the scandal with outright lies, but instead they leave certain details out of the reports. For example, it does not report that most of these cases have been settled out of court over the last 30 years.

Further, it does not tell you that settlements out of court secretly were commonly made to protect the face of the abused as well as the abuser, a practice the families of the abused supported. (However, it was still a mistake since it allowed people to avoid proper psychological treatment.)

The media does not even talk about people who are completely penitent for what they have done and have left the priesthood.

Also, it does not tell you that 80 percent of the cases, while legally pedophilia, were carried out with teenagers as opposed to small children.

Finally, the media does not bother to mention that some are falsely accused.

The reason for this media blitz against the church is very simple: the Catholic church is the loudest voice against the gay agenda, abortion and contraceptives. Because of this, the media applies pressure in hopes that the church will change its stances.

One way of doing this is to embarrass the Church. This desire to harm extends beyond the sex scandal and manifests itself in attacks on the pope.

The pope is savaged every time he states what the church has always believed. Is it such a surprise that the pope is against gay marriage? Every time he is ill, it is made to seem like he is taking his last breath.

This pressure group also commonly wants the church to give up its stance on priestly celibacy because they believe celibacy is partially causing the problem.

However, when one looks at abuse statistics, the percentage of clergy that have been convicted or is known to have committed these crimes is much lower than their counterparts in other denominations and among people who work with children.

We know in California that two percent of priests have been involved, compared to four percent of married people and seven percent of the general population. If celibacy had contributed to sexual abuse, then these statistics should be the opposite.

What the media fails to understand is that the real cause of the scandal goes back to the seminaries of the late ’60s and ’70s that did not recognize the value of celibacy as a gift from God that St. Paul, Christ and several others recommended.

Instead, they depended on a misapplied psychology that said that pleasure is the best guide to development and happiness.

Many seminaries thought that celibacy was soon going to be abolished. For someone planning to live a life of complete service and chastity, this was the worst possible training that one could receive.

Luckily, reform of the seminaries has already begun. With the writings of the current pontiff such as “Theology of the Body,” the Church has taken on a whole new theological perspective on human sexuality.

What I am presenting here is not an excuse for what happened. I hope more than anything else that no one thinks that I am scapegoating either psychology or sexuality. The real problem is, and always will be, whether or not people choose to live morally or selfishly.

Some people believe that the problem is that the church was too strict with its teachings and people cracked beneath it. The real problem though is not that the teachings were too strict, but that the church did not follow them.