Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Catholic Church Perpetuates Sex Abuse Crisis Through Its Own Policies

I have followed the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal closely since it first exploded in Boston in 2002. Indeed, I have a Google Search agent that sends me daily up to a dozen stories from across the globe on the still roiling scandal that has begun to claim high Church clerics who participated in the abuse or aided and abetted it. The Church hierarchy and right wing Catholic extremists (e.g., the site Church Militant) have made a concerted effort to blame the abuse epidemic on gay priests and homosexuality rather than the western rite celibacy requirement and the Church's utterly bizarre stances on sex and sexuality - the true cause in the minds of a number of mental health experts and the Australian Royal Commission investigating the scandal in Australia.  Now, a piece by a long time journalist for La Croix International, an online Catholic paper republished in the Washington Post belatedly throws responsibility back on the Vatican and its perverse and bizarre policies.  While the author addresses some of the root problems in Church, he overstates the role of homosexuality.  Most experts classify the predator priests and pedophiles and/or psycho-sexually maladjusted, not gays in the common sense.  Nonetheless, it is refreshing to see someone correctly pointing the finger at the Vatican and its unsound polices and dogma.  Here are excerpts:
The Catholic Church is being rocked — again — by high-level sexual abuse scandals, with allegations in recent weeks surfacing in Chile, Honduras and the District [of Columbia], home to Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a once-super-popular cleric who is facing accusations by five males of harassment or abuse.
And again, people say they are shocked and outraged, which shows how Catholics still refuse to see that there is an underlying issue to these cases. It is the fact that almost all of them concern males — whether they are adolescents, post-pubescent teens or young men.
And while no adult who is of sound psychosexual health habitually preys on those who are vulnerable, there is no denying that homosexuality is a key component to the clergy sex abuse (and now sexual harassment) crisis.
But let me be very clear: psychologically healthy gay men do not rape boys or force themselves on other men over whom they wield some measure of power or authority.
However, we are not talking about men who are psychosexually mature. And yet the bishops and officials at the Vatican refuse to acknowledge this. Rather, they are perpetuating the problem, and even making it worse, with policies that actually punish seminarians and priests who seek to deal openly, honestly and healthily with their sexual orientation.
Our problem in the Church is of the abuse of power, an abuse that happens as a result of homophobia that keeps gay men in the closet, bars them from growing up and results in distorted sexuality for many gay priests. We need to address this elephant in the rectory parlor. They are products of a clerical caste and a priestly formation system that discourages and, in some places, even forbids them from being honest about their homosexual orientation.
Sadly, many of these men are or have become self-loathing and homophobic. Some of them emerge as public moralizers and denouncers of homosexuality, especially of the evil perpetrated on society by the so-called gay lobby.
As recently as 2005, just a few months after the election of Benedict XVI, the Vatican issued a document that reinforced the “stay in the closet” policy by saying men who identified as gay should not be admitted to seminaries.
In fact, one of the prime authors of that document — Monsignor Tony Anatrella, a priest-psychotherapist from Paris — was recently stripped of his priestly faculties after being credibly accused of abusing seminarians and other young men in his care.
[A]ll gay people, indeed the entire Church — would benefit greatly if these healthy gay priests could openly share their stories. But their bishops or religious superiors have forbidden them from writing or speaking publicly about this part of their lives.
This, too, only encourages more dishonesty and perpetuates a deeply flawed system that will continue to produce unhealthy priests. 
 Having been raised Catholic, I am all too aware of how badly Catholicism's approach to human sexuality can screw one up.  I was in therapy for a couple of years to undo the damage.  Trapped in seminary high schools and colleges, then seminary, where sex - and women - were viewed as sinful in almost every respect, it is little wonder so many priest were psycho-sexually damaged.  

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