Thursday, August 16, 2018


The sexual abuse of children is shockingly common. I know. I myself was molested by a teacher at the age of twelve. It's a crime that every human instinct tells us should be the rarest of all crimes, and yet it is surely amongst the most common. And the numbers are surely much greater than even those known, because so many of them go unreported.

That the perpetrators include, prominently it seems, members of the Catholic priesthood should be shocking, too. Given reactions to revelations of the past couple of decades, including most recently yesterday's by a Pennsylvania grand jury, the news still shocks us. As it should. But unfortunately no one can any longer call it a surprise.

The simple fact of the matter is that most human beings need sex, and I suspect that many of us men need it compulsively. Deprived by custom and church law of the right to satisfy this basic, sometimes compulsive need in normal sexual relations, even marriage, these men resort to the nearest and most vulnerable targets for their lust--the children.

Children are the most likely to do the bidding of persons in authority, and the least likely to report them. Their innocence and natural beauty must surely add to their appeal to the unhealthy appetites of men unable to restrain them. By its canonical law, the church makes of them the bait the lures the predators.

Yet even the otherwise seemingly benign Pope Francis rejects the obvious (if by all means only partial) solution: to allow his priests to marry. To allow them to behave as the men they are, by nature, and to satisfy their human desires in consensual adult relationships. I personally do not subscribe to the notion that so many men in this one profession happen by nature to be pederasts--though pederasts, I concede, may be drawn to the profession. I believe rather that their human sexuality is tragically misdirected by ancient laws and customs that have no place in the modern world.

None of which can exculpate those responsible for these crimes, or those responsible for enabling and protecting them. But to assure the perpetuation of the circumstances that surely play some part in this disgraceful travesty is a crime in itself.

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