Opening their eyes to pedophilia

Holy Week is upon us, the most important week in the Western Christian calendar. According to Christians, this week commemorates the pinnacle of God’s creation with the death of Jesus and his resurrection, which saves us from eternal damnation, or at least some level of Dante’s Hell. Holy Week this year looks to be the most memorable one since my older brother broke his nose on Good Friday.

In case you haven’t heard, the Catholic Church, of which I had at one time been a nominal member, is finally facing up to a problem that has plagued it for years. That problem is the sexual abuse of children, generally but not always young boys, by the clergy. And when I say "the Catholic Church" is facing up to a problem, I mean the Pope, His Holiness John Paul II, is facing up to the problem. Last week the Pope commented that priests are supposed to help children and that the accusations of sexual abuse cast a "dark shadow of suspicion" over all priests.

Sexual abuse by the clergy is nothing new. I remember hearing of cases when I myself was an altar boy. Priests who were serving or had once served in our diocese were seemingly arrested right, left, and centre in the 1980s. It even forced the resignation of our Bishop, Emmett Doyle. Then there were the cases in Newfoundland, fictionalized and dramatized in the CBC mini-series The Boys of St. Vincent, where the Christian brothers routinely abused the boys at an orphanage in Newfoundland.

Regardless of how many children came forward, how many priests were arrested and how much damage was done to the Church–a fair bit in my view–His Holiness said nothing officially. It was the unofficial view of the Church that these cases were fabrications, attempts to discredit the Church and its insistence on a celibate clergy. To show how much, or rather little, the Pope cared, he appointed a new Cardinal-Archbishop of Vienna in the mid-’90s. The Pope’s choice was a very unpopular one with the Austrian bishops. Two years after the appointment, the Pope’s appointee was in in a secluded alpine monastery as Austrian police investigated charges of sexual abuse brought against the Cardinal.

But now, the Pope is speaking out. Why? Has he seen the light? Are these problems genuinely giving him sleepless nights? No, the Pope is more concerned with bums in seats. This new round of trials and accusations, highlighted by the case in the Archdiocese of Boston where a priest with a history of sexually assaulting young boys passed from parish to parish to avoid scandal, have caused bad publicity for the Catholic Church.

Time magazine’s cover story this week is on the problems in the Church. Catholics are becoming disillusioned with the constant accusations and convictions and the lack of any initiative from the Vatican. They are leaving the Church en masse, and with them goes their Sunday contributions.

What to do about the problem? There are those that say allowing priests to marry would solve many of the problems. But that is ignoring the fact that children are being molested by priests. I’ve known priests who wanted to marry, know what they did? They sure as hell didn’t molest little boys. They simply gave up being priests to get married. Maybe the Church would have to revert back to adult baptism like it did thousands of years ago and not allow any children near the priests. Whatever my solution is, it will not be heeded because I am not the Pope and the only opinion that counts in the Church is His.

My older brother, the same one who broke his nose on Good Friday, still attends church semi-regularly. He tells me Satan is still bad and Jesus is still good. Funny thing about that is it’s Jesus’ minions, not Satan’s, who cause all the problems in the Church. Maybe Satan wasn’t the problem after all.

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