Every Catholic blogger who writes a post about the Catholic moral teaching on human sexuality, is guaranteed to receive at least one comment referring to the priest sex scandal. Exhibit A: this oh so original comment on this post:
“The most evil sexual immorality is priests raping children, and the Catholic church (sic) has hidden thousands and thousands of known child rapists (according to their own John Jay report). Fix that first, Archbishop Dolan, by creating measures to put those guilty priests in prison. Stop protecting those criminals that ruined child’s lives.”
First let me be clear: the priest sex scandal is evil. It has harmed the Church—the very body of Christ. Predator priests have killed innocent souls. Lives have been destroyed. Their crimes call out to heaven.
Most Catholics—myself included—were devastated when the scandal broke. It was, and is, an all too vivid lesson in how sin harms each and every member of the body of Christ.
The reality is that although we know that the Church is holy it is also a Church of sinners and a few saints. As I wrote in May of 2010,
“Jesus Christ is the true and proper head of the Church. The Church is the Mystical Body of Christ… But the Body of Christ is comprised of fallen human beings who are inclined to sin. The Church is one, but the unity is fractured. The Church is Holy, but she is full of sinners who are capable of evil. This is a paradox that since the long lent of 2002 has been very painful for those of us sitting in the pews. It is even more painful for our faithful Bishops, Priests and Deacons who are tainted by, as Pope Benedict said, “the filth in the Church”.
In 2000 years the Church has had many scandals, many bad bishops and even popes. But she still stands. Jesus said:
And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church,* and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. (Mt 16:18).
I cannot, and will not, excuse the evil actions of some priests. Further I do not understand why some bishops did not take decisive action. It is beyond belief that some bishops were involved in a cover up.
The scandal, however, should not be used as an argument against the moral teaching of the Church. The teaching of the Church on faith and morals comes from God—not human beings.
Further not all priests and bishops are culpable. There is no evidence that Archbishop Dolan was ever involved in covering up for priests under his authority. None.
Oh and Archbishop Dolan has no authority to jail priests. Take it to the criminal justice system. The Church does not have prisons. The problem is that the scandal is decades old. Many of the priests have died. The statue of limitations has run out in many other cases. Priests have been jailed. Thank God.
I suspect that my commenter hates the Catholic Church. Period. The priest scandal is a justification for that hate.
Frankly, however, I think that God did bring good out of evil. Well before that long Lent of 2002, I had been telling my favorite deacon that adults having sex with children was dangerously close to be accepted by, at least, by some (elite) radical liberals. That has a way of trickling down to us peasants. That is one reason that same sex marriage is legal here in Iowa.
If I was right, and I think I was, the scandals put on the brakes to that. You can’t very well condemn the Church when you think that adults having sex with children is normal and permissible.
That does not, however, justify evil.
What I want to know why is there no outrage at the fact that child predators are on the rise. They are legion. They come from every profession and every class. It is a major problem in our schools, in Hollywood, in every institution and place where children gather.
Why? Where are the studies that attempt to identify the growing problem?
The Catholic Church may be late, but it has addressed the problem. Programs, policies, and regulations have been put in place to keep our children as safe as humanly possible.
What about the institutions (e.g. Public Schools) where predators lurk?
Where is the outrage?
To the above commenter: You are welcome to comment on this blog, even when you strongly disagree. But only if you use reasoned arguments. Otherwise you will be banned.