More instances of sexual abuse have been brought to light within the Catholic Church.
I will start off by saying that I am Catholic. I was baptized years ago, and have maintained my love for the theology every day since. I feel like a moral dilemma many Catholics have is whether or not they should associate themselves with a church so deeply riddled with sexual abuse and pedophilia scandals. I can only speak for myself when I say that those thoughts have certainly crossed my mind. A few days ago, it was brought to light that for over 70 years, Catholic bishops and other leaders have covered up the sexual abuse of more than 1,000 children by over 300 Priests in Pennsylvania.
Last Thursday, a Grand Jury released a detailed report regarding the matter and I highly suggest that you read as much of it as possible. After spending a few hours pouring through the 1,300 page report, the weight of this issue has really settled in my mind. For years I have heard of similar abuse scandals within my Church, along with countless jokes on SNL about sketchy priests and their altar boys. I’ve dealt with this in the past rather internally, my faith in Catholicism often shaking at the stories from hundreds of children and teenagers detailing the horrific abuse they endured by leaders once thought to be close to God.
These men are not close to God. They are perhaps they farthest possible thing from Holy. “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing. They hid it all,” Attorney General Josh Shapiro said at a press conference in Harrisburg, PA.
Why do so many priests end up being pedophiles?
For starters, celibacy is a requirement for all priests in the Roman Catholic Church, regardless of the fact that this practice is, ultimately, unbiblical. In 1 Timothy 3:1–13 (ESV), the apostle Paul actually argues the opposite, in regards to overseers and other deacons within the Church. Paul says that both should be the husband of one wife, and should manage their household and children well.
There is a really important book by Jason Berry, titled Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children. In the book, he suggests that the pure and holy vow of celibacy is often used as a facade for people with disturbing and abnormal sexual tendencies. The underdevelopment and long-term suppression of a prospective priest’s sexual identity, mixed with immaturity and a tendency towards sexual deviation is the perfect mixture to create a pedophile.
Yes, my faith in the Church has shaken.
We hear the phrase “hate the sin, love the sinner” quite often in church. It is often used by Christians and Catholics responding to social issues like abortion or gay marriage (which, let me be clear, I am not comparing to pedophilia). Reading these truly disgusting stories about priests molesting and raping children has me asking the question, do I really love the sinner? Can I really bring myself as a moral person, as a lover of God, to forgive these evil human beings? I do not know. Is “hating the sin” really enough when my own church is silencing victims, paying off law enforcement, and quite frankly, doing little to nothing to change for the better?
Pope Francis needs to do more.
Pope Francis has a lot of work to do. Pew research conducted soon after the election of Pope Francis shows that 70% of Catholics viewed addressing sexual misconduct within the church as the number one priority under his leadership.
According to another survey from the Pew Research Center, “45% of U.S. Catholics said Pope Francis is doing an “excellent” (13%) or “good” (33%) job addressing the crisis, down from 55% who said this in 2015…”
Statements from the office of the Pope are not enough. Pope Francis himself needs to publicly provide a solution to this. It feels like efforts from actual Catholics to reform the Church from the outside have done little in terms of progress. We need someone from within the Church to listen to what we have to say.
Priests (and literally anyone else) that are convicted of sexual abuse in any form should be castrated and given a life sentence with no chance of parole. The justice system in America frequently allows sexual abusers to be given a second chance at life, which, frankly, they don’t deserve.