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Catholic sex abuse: fueled by celibacy, male leadership, or Satan?

The growing Catholic sex abuse scandals in Germany – Pope Benedict’s homeland – and the Netherlands are making headlines all over the world, just as the Vatican had started to emerge from the furor over abuse of children in Ireland, Australia, America and elsewhere. The German story has a personal link to the pontiff: some of the accusers had belonged to a choir led by Benedict’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger, for 30 years.

So far, coverage has floated three theories for the ongoing allegations of pedophilia and physical abuse. As usual, some are questioning the Catholic Church’s celibacy mandate for clergy (except for Eastern Catholics and married converts). The Holy See’s own daily newspaper has a story about whether the dearth of women in church governance plays a role, positing that the “veil of masculine secrecy” contributes to cover-ups. And several exorcists are debating whether the Devil has infiltrated the Vatican.


As my former colleague Gary Stern notes over at Blogging Religiously, these are dark days for Pope Benedict – and some fear that it’s just the beginning.

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posted March 11, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Since there is no such thing as “satan” I don’t think he has had anything to do with the RCC’s rotten molesting priests. The only think infiltrating the Vatican is an old man, Benny, who has continued to keep the RC backwards. He (as well as John Paul) has also contributed to the secrecy associated with the pedophile priests. His promoting the Archbishop of Boston, Law, to Rome was just one of his “helpful” answers to the problem when he found out. He actually might be forced to do something now that the victims have come to the surface here, Ireland, Germany etc. So far his answer to Ireland has been NOT to answer so far!

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posted March 12, 2010 at 9:57 am

Their dark times are entirely self-inflicted and they will continue because this pope, and the organization more broadly, is incapable of learning from mistakes. They refuse to even consider the possibility that something is wrong with their organizational culture. In their eyes, the whole abuse problem is the fault of gays, American culture, the media and the plaintiff’s bar. They will continue to do what they’ve always done, and get the same results.
Those results now include losing followers. In Ireland, some 7,000 people have formally defected from the church, in the past year or so. Think about that. Ireland. A generation ago, you would have been lucky to find 7 Irishmen inclined to do that. That’s like having Muslims in Mecca renounce Islam. Plenty of people in Italy are also quitting. Once they finally burn their bridges in Europe and other developed countries, things will go back to “normal” and abuse will run riot in Latin America and Africa and elsewhere their societies and civil institutions are ready to confront it in another generation or so.

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Your Name

posted March 13, 2010 at 7:39 am

The behavior of the Vatican reminds me of the behavior of the old East Bloc countries and placss like China and North Korea today, where the leadership seems to assume that appearances of perfection and rectitude must be maintained at all costs even to the point of absurdity — you know, this year’s crops are the best ever, long live the glorious revolution, even as independent news reports are full of locust plagues and droughts and floods…political leaders with life-threatening, debilitating diseases “have a cold,” at least until six months later when it finally slips out that they’re actually DEAD…it’s a people’s paradise, even as the people are risking death escaping over the border…do the Pope and his advisors not understand how evil and stupid their institutional silence/equivocation/excuse-making/protection of sexual predators appears, and how it erodes their moral authority, and by extension that of Christianity as a whole?

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posted March 13, 2010 at 4:21 pm

Perhaps it’s a combination of all the above?
I just feel if that the clergy were able to have normal sex lives than this kind of thing just wouldn’t happen. It’s a natural, normal human thing and celibacy would simply drive you mad unless you had been neutered!
HOWEVER, a big however… this is not to say that sex abuse DOESN’T happen amongst other Christian denominations… Anglicans, Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventist etc… their clergy and pastors have also been found guilty of sex abuse yet they are able to be married and have normal functioning sex lives?
I think whatever happens the fact that the Catholic church tried to cover up for many years the truth about what was happening has only lead to their detriment. Rome seemed more interested in their own affairs and protecting the boys club seemed to be more important to them than the welfare of their congregation. If they were open and honest about it and showed us that they actually WANTED to help heal and resolve the issue and want to reach out to actually help victims through the agony of dealing with sexual abuse, then maybe the Catholic lay people wouldn’t be leaving the church in droves as they are now.

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posted March 14, 2010 at 6:09 am

The pope is at too high a level to deal with any individual cases or to micromanage the issue of clergy sex abuse.
Yes, homosexual issues and influence can be connecte for about 75% of the problem and he is trying hard to cut this off at the seminary level, with some success in some places and less in others.
Celibacy does not cause paedophilia, there is simply too much evidence to the contrary. That is just a straw man argument for another agenda.
Oddly enough most of the actual problems with clergy sex abuse are over,and have been over for 25 years. What we have here is mostly a media event.
The Pope will win this one long term.

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David Justin Lynch

posted March 17, 2010 at 10:18 pm

If they started ordaining women and married persons, they wouldn’t have as many of these problems.

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posted April 1, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Right. Because a married man never molested a kid, right? And women have never abused children?

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posted April 1, 2010 at 1:04 pm

What? What an absurd statement. Married heterosexual men are involved in a higher percentage of sexual abuse cases than homosexual clergy. Moreover, woman can and have been abusers also.

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posted April 4, 2011 at 9:48 pm

The psychology of celibacy and exclusion by gender segregation can account for only a fraction of the problem. For the most part the abuse is a personal choice by the priests and they should ALWAY be held accountable. The RCC shares responsibility when they knowing transfer the priests with the idle wish they would stop. Letting anyone get away with these crimes is folly, dangerous, and they very definition of sin.

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