This is a very good read for anyone who has, fir whatever reason, been following the recent sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church. Â I have written a bit about it, but have for the most part steered clear. It is too easy to use this as a weapon to beat up on Catholicism, and far too easy ti use it as evidence of the victimization of gays. Both may be true- that the Catholic Church deserves some real retribution, and gays are victimized, but there is a deeper and more profound story underneath all of that.The effects of childhood sexual abuse are devastating, and this endemic problem must receive greater scrutiny and action to protect children.
Child sexual abuse happens so easily because adults use a power differential over children. This happens regardless of the sex of the adult or the child, and the vast majority of sexual abuse happens to children by family members or other adults close to the family. The article points out how the Catholic Church, isn’t any more guilty of sexual abuse than other institutions or places where children are in the control of adults, but the Church setting is one where this hierarchy of power is so well defined and celebrated. Part of the nature of the Catholic Church is based upon the power of the priesthood, and the subservience of the pubic.
Interestingly, about 20% of the abuse of children in the Catholic Church is perpetrated against girls. That 80% is perpetrated against boys is used to support the (false) myth that gay priests are the culprits, the thuth is that the Church is not really a welcoming place for young girls as it is boys. Being alter boys for example. I know a number of friends who were inappropriately touched or abused by priests, and in all of those cases, the guys were alter boys at the time.
Research shows that often true pedophiles do not discriminate between the sexes, but abuse children as they have access.
What I feel has been lacking in any coverage of this issue, is the age of the priests, and a timeline for their involvement with the church. The major revelation of abuse here in the US emerged in about 2002. What was the general age of the priests involved? Based upon that, when did these men enter the priesthood? What were the social conditions of that time? How many of these men self-identified as gay? My theory would be that many if not most of the abusive priests were raised in the 40’s and 50’s when it wasn’t acceptable to come out as gay and sexuality in the broader picture was discouraged and repressed. Their sexuality was repressed and disengaged, and this is a really bad combination.
My bet is that the sexual revolution starting in the sixties as well as the greater acceptance of homosexuality, and the ease at which men can be out as gay men in most occupations sets the stage for fewer messed up priests.