Wednesday, October 3, 2018

It's Not About "The Gays": A Look at Abuse in the Catholic Church

First, I'm writing this post in August while the Catholic church is, once again, dominating the news with yet another sex scandal. Which is part of the problem, that we look at these as individual scandals when they are, in fact, not individual but part of a pathology within the Catholic church.

Second, I'm assuming that the current scandal will have dropped out of the news by the time this posts. I'm also assuming that nothing will have changed in the church, again, so this post is still highly relevant.

Third, it's not the Catholic church that is the root of this problem, but we'll get to that in the post.

* * *

In the United States, we tend to have this perception that homosexuality and pedophilia are linked. Like one begets the other. I'm just going to say that the root of this lies in the Catholic church. The root of the perception, that is, because that's what it is, a perception. It is not a true thing beyond the fact that men have this problem with seeking out young sexual partners, which actually has nothing to do with being Catholic or homosexual and usually stops short of pedophilia.

The truth is that most, the vast majority, of the priests who have committed these atrocious acts of sexual violence against children would not or do not consider themselves homosexuals. These are not "gay" acts of men against young boys. These are acts of aggression of men in power against the only outlet they have: boys.

Which is where and why it gets complicated and misunderstood. The public has only seen it as men abusing boys -- which may be the only way the public can see it -- and interprets that has homosexual pedophiles, which causes those two things to be linked in the collective consciousness.

Probably what is needed here is a history of the Catholic church and the practice of sending young men into the priesthood, basically, against their will. But let's sum all of that up by saying that sending men to be priests because it would be good for the family or sending away the troublemakers in hopes that it will straighten them out or sending men because they simply have no other prospects are all bad reasons for anyone to become a priest. None of these men are really signing up for the "required" celibacy, so it should be no surprise when they don't succeed at it.

The problem is that when they don't succeed at it, at keeping their sexual desires in check -- And when I say "desires," I don't mean the desire to have sex with other men or with boys; I mean the desire to have sex. Period. You men reading this should understand what it's like to be young and horny.* -- the only people they have around them with whom to express these desires, the only "safe" people they have around them with whom to express these desires, are young boys. I say "safe" because they can't express these desires with each other. Let's look at those reasons before I talk about why children are "safe" targets.

  1. As I said, these men, on the whole, don't identify as homosexuals, so they're not actually attracted to their companions. Or to men.
  2. The men around them are their equals, so their silence is not assured.
  3. The attitude about sex in the Catholic church is that any sex not specifically meant for procreation inside a marriage relationship is sinful. Protected sex is sinful. Masturbation is sinful. Sex because you're horny is sinful. [I should point out, though, that it is perfectly fine for a man to rape his wife as long as he can say it was his intent to put a baby in her. The Catholic church is FUCKED UP. [I should also point out that many protestant churches, especially Evangelical churches, share these same views.]]
  4. The Catholic church (and most protestant churches) view homosexuality as a sin. They, in fact, treat it as if it is somehow the worst of all mortal sins. So, though I said that these priests don't view themselves as homosexuals, they also know that having sex with their compadres would be a homosexual act.
It's pretty clear, I think, that the idea of approaching a brother priest with the idea of sex is more than just dangerous. Priests could get excommunicated for things like that or, at the very least, severely disciplined, and it would ruin any future prospects for anyone with any kind of ambition.

Which leaves only one outlet for their sexual frustrations, the young boys working in the church alongside them. Boys because that should remove all doubt of any shenanigans. Because, you know, homosexuality is so serious and surely no priest would ever engage in anything even suggestive of it. I'm going to guess and say that the issue of sexual abuse in the church would be even greater if they allowed, also, for altar girls.

See, the thing about kids is that they are easy to intimidate into silence. Then, even if they do talk, adults are so dismissive about what they have to say, especially if it's not something they want to hear, that it hardly matters that they tried to tell anyone. And, if someone believes one of the kids, say, a mother, then she has to break through the male power structure of the Catholic priesthood to have someone listen to and believe her.

Until recently, all of this has been insurmountable.

And it takes us back to the real problem: male power structures. Because this not just a problem in the Catholic church; it's a problem everywhere you have men in power. You don't have to look any farther than our own #fakepresident to know as he gleefully boasted about how he could grab women by the pussies and they would just let him do it. And Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby and and AND! So many ands.

It's clear that anywhere you have men in power that they will abuse that power, frequently in ways that damage other people, especially if they have other men around them to help them cover up those abuses. The Catholic church just happens to be the greatest bastion of male power on the planet, so it has become the bastion of the greatest abuses.

Oh, yeah, I hear you people out there saying that women aren't any better and that they would also abuse power if they had it. But here's the thing: You have no real empirical evidence for that. You can't, because women have so seldomly been in power. And, when they do abuse power, it's almost never against people. None of which matters, anyway, because it's just a deflection from the point.

The point being that male power structures, having been built up over centuries, have a rotten core and need to be replaced. I'm not advocating for any specific replacement, but, as far as I'm concerned, the entire priesthood of the Catholic church -- including the Pope, and I like him! -- probably ought to resign. If they had any amount of honor in them and empathy for people the church has been raping, literally and figuratively, for hundreds of years, they would all step down. Unless they believe that raping children is what God's work is all about.

Then we can move on to all of the other churches where men hold all the power. And all of the other institutions and government structures.

*I once had a friend tell me that when he was horny, he was almost willing to fuck anything with a hole in it. And I had another friend who kept a special Coke bottle in his room, the old glass kind that used to come in soda machines before they switched over to cans.


  1. My last comment got eaten so I'll just comment on that messed up asterisk. Seriously, do men have no self control? Oh my god. They have no self control.

    1. Jeanne: Those in power rarely have reason for self-control. Destroy the planet? That's okay, I'm rich, I'll survive.

  2. Cults are always about getting the cult leader laid. Religions spend so much time regulating sex that it's no wonder that those beholden to them have messed up views on sex.

    1. Liz: yeah...
      I'll get around to talking about this stuff more at some point.