I just ran across a phrase that stuck in my head which is that celibacy does not cause child abuse. It was made in the context of the latent controversy that the Catholic Church has found itself in regarding its perceived intransigence in handing over criminal perverts to the law. I also found myself listening to a rather intelligent fellow who is in command of many facts ridiculed by Adam Curry and John C Dvorak in their No Agenda podcast.
In the podcast, the man defending the Church against none other than anti-Papist 80s punk rocker Sinaed O'Connor. They got wrapped around the axle over his use of the word 'pre-pubescent'. His point being that the majority of the cases were not technically child molestation cases, rather they were homosexual rapes. He didn't use that term, I do.
For one thing, I think the gentleman defender makes an important point when he tells us that the Church has stemmed the tide - put the epidemic back in the box. There is something to it that other global institutions could learn. As he says, this was a global tragedy two decades ago and it has all but ceased. But my judgment is reserved for understanding the scope of that tragedy and the swiftness of its attenuation.
Here's what puzzles and somewhat intrigues me. Presuming that something other than just 'evil' is what causes priests to rape, what should we assume are proximate causes? Is this kind of psychological profile available on those cases that have been prosecuted? I think it matters.
Is there a kind of down-low silence that the Church condoned? Isn't that a kind of tolerance? Let us suggest as a mind experiment that we are not talking about child molestation.
On a scale of 1 to 20 of sin according to the Catholic Church, let us put homosexual acts of any sort at 10. Let us put homosexual rape = to any other sort of rape at 13, and let us put child molestation at 15, just a few clicks shy of murder at 17, torture at 18, serial killing at 19 and genocide up at 20. This is totally a wild guess. I don't know, nor does anyone really, what the Church's Depravity Scale is, nor most anyone's for that matter. The research is incomplete.
If you born/raised homosexual and Catholic, you are in a pickle. You must know that the gratification of your sexual desire in any way is sinful. What then is the additional burden of that sin with a young man, or an adolescent if you are on the border between Hell and Purgatory no matter what? In an environment where there is no way to be 'clean' what is a little more dirt?
I'm thinking of this in the context of the opportunity the Church gives a man who is, as a homosexual, outcast from society, and I wonder if the Church interprets whatever tolerance it gives to homosexuals in the laity and the priesthood as part of its duty and if it perceives that much of this scandal is hypocrisy. What if the Catholic Church just said our homosexuals are less sinful on the whole than secular homosexuals, because since all homosexuality is sinful, at least our sinners are doing God's work. Is it blind to the distinction between extra-marital straight sex and all homosexuality? Might it not justify its lenience in the same way some people justify gay marriage?
This is another way of asking whether or not homosexual priests might be better protected in a gay friendly community given their proclivity for X, Y or Z, again relative to that community's depravity scale.
I ask this question without prejudice to the Church or priests. Because if you say that they should be held to a higher standard, then you are admitting to the depravity of homosexuality. Again, I don't mean to suggest that a priest is not an authority figure and therefore the potential for abuse should not have greater consequences. But there surely cannot only be aggravating factors but mitigating factors as well. I suspect that there is something fundamentally different about male on male sexuality in the shadows and margins of society that is given some implicit tolerance. What are the norms of homosexual behavior in the context of extra-maritalism? I suppose I'm also asking whether or not in our permissive society it is reasonable to find some equality or standard in the age of consent? If you distribute condoms in because you 'just know' sex is going to happen, why should we be surprised about alter boys? Is that indeed an international standard, and what should be expected of such a global institution as the Catholic Church?Lotta questions in there.
OK here's what some numbers suggest to me. In Los Angeles and Orange Counties, 42 cases are or have gone to trial covering 150 litigants. 598 cases have been settled out of court. It's difficult to read the proper interpretation of the account from Wikipedia. But they give some sense that 22 priests were involved over 40 years. If that is indeed correct, then there seems like there can hardly be a broad case made as I suggest that the priesthood takes in homosexuals with some quid pro quo.I suppose all this speculation is indeed rude.