Currently, it seems that for many people, Catholic priest is synonymous with ‘pedophile’. We know that pedophilia exists in the Catholic Church. But media hype and public ridicule serves only one purpose: to provide shelter for pedophilia in other churches and groups.
Think about it. The Catholic Church is the largest single denomination in the world. It stands to reason the largest group population will have the largest numbers of saints and sinners. And sin is part of the human condition. I’m I excusing pedophilia? Absolutely not. I doubt that many would disagree that pedophilia and child abuse is the single most heinous crime.
And that’s all the more reason why focusing all the public attention on pedophilia in the Catholic Church is clearing the obstacles for pedophilia in other groups, religions and churches. It’s like this. If a person is a pedophile, the safest place to hide is in other churches, many of whom are blatantly castigating the Catholic Church. Catholic priests become the scapegoat for other pedophiles crimes. Obviously this doesn’t lesson the responsibility of the Catholic church to address the issue of pedophilia. But it just might expiate, in the eyes of other churches, the need to uncover and address pedophilia within their midst.
Why are pedophiles attracted to churches, schools and children’s’ groups? Two glaring reasons: easy access to children and unquestioned authority. Priests, ministers, rabbis, youth group leaders, youth ministers, preachers, pastors all have access to and authority over children. When we as parents yield our God-given parental wisdom and responsibility to other people, Carter-Blanche, it’s not safe.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard intelligent Christian and religious friends say, ‘it’s okay for her to go with him. He’s a minister. Pastor So-and-so would never do anything wrong.’ Across the denominational spectrum, people idolize their religious leaders.I would remind the public of Jimmy Swaggart, Jim Bakker, Tammy Bakker and a host of other would-be Christians who did not practice what they preached. I would remind the public of issues with the Boy Scouts. These people, mostly men, are put on pedestals and their word is law. And churches with no formal minister are not immune, either. Their elders, deacons, governing board, leadership committees, all wield a frightening amount of power.
I suppose this issue is near to my own heart because of several issues of abuse in my own life, all of which were well outside the Catholic Church. I’m not going to reveal names because I’ve come to grips with the situations and see no purpose in exposure. But I in no way encourage others to do what I’m doing. Exposure can be healthy. I was brought up with a great deal of fear-laced faith and frankly, I’m afraid of the repercussions in my family. And I will not list the churches in which I experienced this. Suffice it to say that they were all mainline denominations. I’ve also listened to heart breaking stories from Christian friends and read books by pastors who weren’t afraid to take on issues in their church.
I urge you, if you are a parent, to protect your children from pedophilia, at home, at church, at day care at the play ground, in play groups, in sports teams, in children’s activities, in school. Everywhere. Never say that anyone is immune from the illness of pedophilia. Don’t give pedophiles a cloak of invisibility or a shield of invulnerability. This is the best we can do as parents.