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Switch to Forum Live View I have a question or two about Catholicism...
9 years ago  ::  Jun 01, 2008 - 3:03PM #1
atkinson3500
Posts: 1
My question(s) are these:  In the wake of the Catholic priest sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church in the US to its very core and caused about six dioceses nationwide to declare bankruptcy
due to financial stress and strain,

1)  What new standards could be imposed on incoming seminarians and recent seminary graduates alike to quickly find and weed out individuals that could well be pedophilic in nature without causing a witch hunt amongst those two groups?

2)  Where does the ruling come from that a man has to be celibate in order to love and/or serve God?  Is that found in the scriptures, is that Catholic tradition, is that human reasoning?  Just where does that ruling come from?  And what happens to a priest that has promised to be celibate but, for example, has fathered four children with two different women, marrying neither one, and keeping those two liaisons (and the resulting children) a secret, choosing to remain in the Catholic Church?

3)  There is a small group of Catholic priests that have staunchly refused to relinquish their holy orders, choosing to remain priests, and are uninterested in transferring their priesthood to another church (say, Episcopal/Anglican or Evangelical Lutheran), but have openly defied Church rules and regulations in marrying women and fathering children, which I personally support wholeheartedly.  Could this be an idea whose time has come, perhaps reducing significantly the number of pedophilic priests that crop up from time to time?
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2008 - 4:44PM #2
spiritalk
Posts: 1,165
A Pedophile is a preference for children.  It would have nothing to do with weeding out this proclivity, except where they could be refused admittance. 

As to having children, getting married, sex availability - this is just not the issue.  A pedophile will still want children.  It is their proclivity to sex.  And to most people this is abhorent behaviour.
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2008 - 5:24PM #3
ManzanitaBear
Posts: 947
It's also been suggested that the reason why priests molest children in the first place (if they do) may, at least some of the time, have to do with the celibacy rules.  They've had it drummed deep into their heads that sex is bad, sex is sinful, sex is not for them--but sex here being defined as consensual adult sex.  With children, they may be able to convince themselves it's not the same thing.
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 02, 2008 - 5:55PM #4
NotAnAtheistMama
Posts: 58
One question that has not been answered satisfactorily is: are pedophiles drawn to priesthood because it gives them easy access to children, or does celibacy tend to cause pedophilia?  If the former is true, then better pre-testing of candidates could get rid of a lot of the problem, as you suggest.  If the latter is true, however, then the system itself creates the monsters and there's no amount of pre-testing that can fix the problem; the solution would have to involve freedom to marry. 

If I remember correctly, it is Paul who says that it is better to be celibate.  But, he also says it's better to marry than to "burn" (there are different interpretations of this, but many think it is linked to burning with desire).  Paul himself was never married--he specifically states this.  Jesus, as I'm sure you are familiar with the recent controversy, is never listed as being married or not married.  Some would argue that because the gospels do not say he was married, then he must not have been married.  But the gospels also don't mention his life between the ages of about 2 years old and 12--and then nothing again until he was about 30 years old; that doesn't mean he did not exist during that time.  It just means that the gospel writers didn't think anything that happened of significance.  In those times, Jewish women did not have equality or much standing at all.  If you look at the geneology of Jesus in Matthew, Ruth is the only woman listed by name, and Bathsheba is just listed as "she who was Uriah's wife."  Doesn't mean Jesus didn't have female ancestors; just means they weren't deemed important enough to talk about.  If Jesus had a wife, she could have been deemed not important enough to talk about. 

A book I just finished reading--that was recommended to me here--called "Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism" is by an Episcopal Bishop who says, after reading the letters that scholars can pretty well attribute to the writer known as Peter, that Peter would seem to be gay.  At the very least, he has a noticeable disdain for women that is stronger than any other writers of the New Testament.  Be him gay or just anti-woman, that explains his lack of a wife, does it not?  The whole idea of celibacy may be based off just one man's personal (not spiritual) decision not to marry.   

Celibacy did not spring from the early Christian church like Athena from the head of Zeus.  Priests married and/or sired illigemate children throughout the middle ages.  More than one pope had a child (although none had a wife while on the Throne of St. Peter).  Early on, celibacy was to be encouraged, but not a law.  As time went on, however, it became law, and then after even longer, the law became enforced.  One of the medieval books I have on a family in the 1200's has the local priest with one or two children by a local woman that he kept.  Marriage was not something he could openly do, but so many people knew about his children that it was put into records that survive to this day.  So at least as late as the mid-1200's, low-level clergy were not necessarily celibate. 

Making celibacy optional for priests would actually be a return to the early church, not a new idea all together. 

Why was celibacy insisted upon?  I think many things the church did, it did for control.  Think about the Amercan Army.  Men shave their heads, wear a uniform, sleep in barracks, march in step.  Confortmity is what makes them a cohesive unit.  If they did things separately, they would not get as much done.  While shaving the head does not make one a better machine gunner, uniform hairstyles and uniform clothing further drive home unity.  It's a constant reminder that you belong to this group of men that look like you.

The early church did not have uniformity.  In the beginning there were Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians.  In 100 or 200 AD, it was declared that you not only did not have to be Jewish to be Christian, but the Christians were going to purposely exchew Jewish rites and traditions.  Then came the controversy between the literalists and the gnostics.  In the 300's, the gnostics lost out to the literalists--although they would continue to operate in pockets for a few more hundred years before being phsyically stamped out.  Then came the Celtic church versus the Roman church.  The Celtic chuch had a high degree of individualism, whereas the Roman church became increasingly fascinated by rules and doing everything everywhere in a uniform fashion.  In the 600's the Celtic church was dissolved in the British Isles and a few pockets of resistance were stamped out.  And this doesn't even touch the Coptic versus Catholic versus Orthodox divisions. 

And so on.  Paternosters were prayer beads which did not have a set length or set prayers.  In the 15th century (or a bit earlier--there is only legend), came the rosary.  Set number of beads, set prayers to be said on them.  Ecclesiastical garb also became standardized in the middle ages--first in fashion, then in color (although this was set pretty early in the middle ages--much earlier than the prayer beads). 

So, you can see that slowly, over time, the church made things more and more standerdized.  There was a standard uniform, a schedule to follow, a way everything was to be done.  Why should some people be celibate and some not?  This is not uniform.  To take the Army metaphor further, before the 1990's, women were not allowed in the Army as combatants not only because it was thought that they could not handle warfare, but also because they were thought to be a distraction for men.  Why then would the church not also see women (and children) as a distraction for its priests?
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 03, 2008 - 6:14PM #5
NotAnAtheistMama
Posts: 58
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There are always going to be pedophiles.  The question is does the church (Catholic or otherwise) attract them at a disporpotionate rate?  Are pedophiles more likely to go into the church or become school teachers or Scout leaders than they are to become car mehcanics or some other profession where there aren't many children?  Yes, I think so.  Which means that some pedophiles may can be caught before they are hired.   

But also, does being celibate push some people over the edge?  Think of people who identify themselves as bi-sexual.  I think they can be pushed into being homosexual or heterosexual (I had a friend in college who said she was bi, but she only dated guys when I knew her).  What if, for some people, pedophilia is something that's an interest, but not a need--until all of their other sexual outlets are blocked up?

I went to an Episcopal school and one of our priests was turned in for molesting an older teen boy.  Was he a pedophile?  Law says yes, because the kid was a minor.  But was the priest really into kids or was he secretly gay?  He had a wife, he had a couple of kids of his own.  This was the only incident connected to him at our school that I'm aware of.  I think it more likely he was a closet homosexual, but for whatever reason, he found it easier to deal with a teen than a man his own age (mind you, there were plenty of much younger kids available to him).  Maybe he thought it was more discreet to be with a teen.  Maybe he preferred to be the dominant partner and had a ready supply of kids who are more easily dominated than most adults.  I don't know.  But I think MBear has a point that pedophilia can be driven by a lack of outlets at the adult level.  Not the only cause of it, certainly, but it can cause it to emerge.
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 07, 2008 - 9:16AM #6
spiritalk
Posts: 1,165
Celebacy and Pedophelia are 2 distinct things.  Celebacy has to do with denial of sex.  While it may be an impossible task for some and not good sense, for others it is turning their thoughts and energies from one source to another.

Sex is an energy - our mind can focus that energy into other channels - it has been seen with many.  There are probably a lot more Catholic priests who practice their celebacy without a need or interest in children for sexual practices.

The fact is pedophelia is a perverted sexual preference.  It is witness in more than the Catholic church. 

The news covered a group in Texas called the Camp of Yahweh where there is sexual perversion.  Apparently on the news website you can get more information on this from both people within and without the group. 

They happen to also believe in the world ending and several dates have come and gone - June 12th is the next. 

Back to the point....religion seems to be a good cover for pedophelia.  Those practicing it tend to use religion as their focus for justification in one way or another - but the perversion continues to exist.
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 09, 2008 - 1:35PM #7
NotAnAtheistMama
Posts: 58
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You are right that parents need to teach, but having been involved in something inappropriate before myself, I can tell you that it makes you feel dirty and you think, "I shouldn't have LET that happen."  You tell yourself you knew something wasn't right, that you shoud have stopped what was happening before it happened, but really, it happens before you know it and then you feel guilty for having been there in the first place, etc.  Counselors who work with women who have been raped can tell you a lot about this problem of feeling like it's YOUR fault, that you LET it happen.  In many cases, people do indeed feel uncomfortable before something happens, but they supress that natural instinct because it wouldn't be polite to run screaming away from this person who is giving you the willies--especially if you know this person pretty well.  Social conditioning overrides instinctual fear and then, when something bad has happened, you feel guilty because you knew something wasn't right, but didn't act on it.   

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I think you have hit that nail on the head.  There's nothing like justifying your actions by saying "God wills it."  Or by threatening the reluctant with hellfire and brimstone if they don't do what you want.  The jihadists are doing it now--God wants you to blow up innocent people; it's all part of his plan--or--God says you should die because you're not us.  Same thing happened at various times in Christianity--the Crusades are the most notable.  Same thing happens all the time around the world in various cults.  Over 900 people killed themselves in a cult in Johannesburg just because one man said so.  They thought he was speaking for God, so that's what made it okay.
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 10, 2008 - 10:19AM #8
spiritalk
Posts: 1,165
Closer to home, right here on bnet was an anti-woman discussion  alive and well justified by the Christian bible.  We can use or pervert anything to make a point for our own actions, unfortunately for unsuspecting young people.

It is unfortunate that children do blame themselves for all things happening in their lives, including abuse.  What a lifetime of pain this lead while they try to figure themselves out in the light of their own sexuality.
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9 years ago  ::  Jun 11, 2008 - 4:39PM #9
ManzanitaBear
Posts: 947
[QUOTE=heterodoxus;541168]That may be, but it doesn't explain while pedophiles not affiliated with clergy/churches are drawn to commit such acts.

And it's not just Catholic clerymen involved in this activity; to wit, the pastor of a Dallas-area megachurch recently arrested during a sex sting after he drove 2 or 3 hours to meet who he thought was a 13 year old girl, just to "buy her a soft drink." I think I saw that on Fox News.[/QUOTE]
I never said it did, or that it was limited to Catholics.  I don't even know if I agree with that theory.  Just that it's a possible explanation for some of those cases.
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