Again, I must apologize for the lack of a blog last week. The computer caught a virus and had to be sent out for some TLC. As usual, EDS Computers in Hornell did a great job, and they don’t overcharge either.
And I have another excuse. I attended a Catholic mans’ retreat at Notre Dame Retreat House near Canandaigua over the weekend. It’s a good time, and instructive. The priests each give a talk that lasts about an hour on various subjects, depending on the audience. Father Paul Miller, resident historian, is always interesting to listen to. His talk this time was the role of Catholics in American history. The other priest spoke of pedophile priests and what the church has done to remedy these sad events. There has been much confusion and anger directed at priests and the church over the way the scandal was handled. I’d like to talk about that for a minute. Many good points were discussed that helped listeners better to understand what was going on back then.
The first bad thing to happen was that the church used the psychological model to diagnose the disorder. Pedophilia is not a crime unless acted upon. Indeed, there are many pedophiliacs who know what they are but do not act on their thoughts and urges, because they know sex with children is wrong, and many are afraid of being caught and sent to prison, where “baby rapers” are treated unkindly. In using the psychological model guilty priests were thought to suffer a treatable disorder. They were given counseling and therapy, but when they had completed the regimen and returned to duty, they also returned to their old habits. It is now believed pedophilia (sex with children up to 11 years old) and ephibophilia (sex with children between ages 15 to 18) are incurable. If a person is born that way, they stay that way. There is also a disorder called gerontophilia, which causes the sufferer to desire sex with old people. I had not realized there was such a disorder, but we were told there were philias for every age group. (I suppose I should be gratified that I have only been sought after by females of my own age.)
Pedophilia is not related to homosexuality nor is it child molestation.
Needless-to-say, the church realized it had a much more serious problem on its hands. What to do with mentally ill priests suffering from an incurable sexual disorder. A system was put in place that demanded these men be kept under constant observation.
First, if a priest is even accused of sexual relations with a child, the investigation must occur immediately and a report rendered within two days. The allegation must be credible – a reasonable possibility the incident occurred, made by a prudent person without an ax to grind. If the report indicates there was nothing to the accusation, it is put aside. But if it shows the likelihood of substance, the priest is removed from his duties while a full-scale investigation is carried out. If sexual contact with children is proven, the priest is defrocked and as long as he wishes to receive medical benefits and retirement from the church, he must remain in custodial homes under constant, very strict supervision. Since all pedophiles are pathological liars, supervision can be a chore.
It should be noted that pedophilia is not only a Catholic problem. Less than a quarter of the reported cases involved Catholic priests, although you would not see this from major media accounts, which always seem to make it a Catholic phenomenon. But the Methodists, Wesleyans, Baptists, Lutherans and all the others have their share of offenders. Out of 77,000 priests worldwide, only 2.1 percent were involved.
There are a couple of websites available to those of you with a further interest in this subject. Virtusonline.org talks at length about all aspects of pedophilia as does praesidiuminc.com, the latter with a slightly different bent.
If the reason you have stopped attending mass is due to your fear of or your anger at Catholic priests or the church, I hope these words have been instrumental in alleviating your reluctance to return to your church. Remember, come the Judgment, your excuses are not going to account for much. And priests entering seminary are tested psychologically forwards and backwards – not much chance of a pedophile slipping through. At least the door isn’t as wide open as it used to be.