Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Why the Catholic Church?

Pope Francis. What is he going to do about it?
The numbers are breathtaking! From France 24

An investigation into sexual abuse in the French Catholic Church has found that an estimated 216,000 children were victims of abuse by clergy since 1950, Jean-March Sauvé, head of the commission that compiled the report, said on Tuesday… 

The abuse was systemic, Sauvé said at a public, online presentation of the report.

The Church not only did not take the necessary measures to prevent abuse but also turned a blind eye, failing to report abuse and sometimes knowingly putting children in touch with predators, he said.

This is just the latest revelation of the sexual abuse committed by  Catholic clergy, the vast majority of them being priests. That there were that many victims in just one country is shocking!

This does not change the fact that we have our own problems in this regard. There is no shortage of Orthodox Jews in positions of power that have taken advantage of that power to sexually abuse children under their charge. They include Roshei Yeshiva, Chasidic Rebbes , pulpit rabbis, seminary heads, principals, teachers, camp counselors, people in outreach, religious lay leaders… and assorted other predators that are seen as authority figures.  

We truly have a problem that has not been solved. It seems like every other day the media reports of yet another Orthodox pedophile being accused by one or more of their victims. I fear we have seen only at the tip of the iceberg. And that there is a lot more coming, There is clearly a lot more work to be done in our own community before we start criticizing others.

But still the enormity of child sex abuse in the French Catholic Church over the last 70 years has to be exponentially greater than among any other group. The question is why? Why are Catholic priests more inclined to sexually abuse children than clergy of other faiths – in particular Orthodox Judaism?

I don’t think we can say that our numbers are smaller only because our population is smaller. I didn’t  run the numbers, but I doubt that we could say that our percentages are the same.  

Not that it is my business to tell the Catholic Church how to run their religious affairs, but I can’t help focusing on the fact Catholic priests are sworn to a lifetime of celibacy. They are not allowed to get married or have any sexual contact with others. It would seem to be that becoming a Catholic priest is a magnet for pedophiles.  In their sincere (at first) attempt to remove themselves from temptation, they choose a profession that does not allow them to act on their aberrative desires.  I guess they feel their vows of abstinence and the fact that they have taken themselves out of social scene will protect them from sinning.

To paraphrase a popular cliché, ‘Abstinence makes the heart go fonder’. Eventually that drive will be satisfied. All their altruism of joining the priesthood and vows of abstinence does not make their lust go away. It does not prevent them from acting on it. Turning them into monsters that will end up using children in their church as sex objects to satisfy their lust. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t think they were doing any permanent harm at all to their victims – rationalizing that their victims were in any case they have been carefully groomed into eventually becoming willing participants. Believing also that the benefit of the time they otherwise devote to serving their flock far outweighs the few moments of the sin they committed as imperfect human beings.

I can think of no other explanation of the huge numbers cited in the report.

By contrast Judaism requires its high priest (Kohen Gadol) to be married in order to serve in the Beis Hamikdash on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year. Being celibate might seem like a noble ideal. It follows the example of their founder who was not married and enables them to devote all of their time and energy to their flock - without the distractions of marriage and family.

Judaism on the other hand understands that the sex drive cannot be denied. Jewish pedophiles and other types of sexual predators cannot seek refuge in the rabbinate, the way Catholics with these problems think they can in the priesthood. 

That of course does not stop Jewish pedophiles from choosing careers like teachers that will feed them victims. But the rabbinate cannot be seen as a refuge from their aberrative behavior – only to come out with a vengeance later on with a pool of victims readily at hand.

(The obvious coverup by the Catholic Church over those years is even more perplexing. How could Church leaders that have devoted their lives to the spiritual well being of their flock  do that? But that discussion is beyond the scope of this post.)

I have no way of proving any of this. It is just a gut feeling. But these are the thoughts that came to mind as I look at the unbelievably huge numbers of children abused by the Catholic Church in France over 7 decades.