Anonymous asked in Society & CultureReligion & Spirituality · 7 years ago

(Priest sex abuse scandal) Need help with thesis on religion..?

What do you think was a major contributor to the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal?

I am writing a paper for my religious studies class regarding this topic.

So far I have heard a few theories...

1. That the seminary's were far too accepting of candidates, and literally let anyone in, without any screening process in the 50' and 60's

2. That this is a result of celibacy. (I am reluctant to believe this one, considering that not all celibate people abuse children)

3. That pedophiles actively seek out jobs and professions that give them access to children.

I am leaning toward a combination of numbers one and three.

What do you think? Anything original would be best.

Thanks and God bless. '

11 Answers

  • John S
    Lv 7
    7 years ago
    Best Answer

    As a Catholic..

    It is a complex issue with many facets to it.

    #2 is definitely not true. Simply look at rates of pedophilia in the general public which CAN marry and you'll see that celibacy is not the issue. IF celibacy was a major contributing cause.. then we could look towards Protestant denominations and see a significant fewer cases.. but the evidence doesn't bare this out. So the argument fails on 2 attempts.

    However, as a Catholic who has researched this.. I'd add 3 other causes which contributed.

    A) The Catholic church, believing in reconciliation and grace (aka forgiveness) believed that a contrite confession would be sufficient for a Priest, who is supposed to be filled with grace and called by God to this vocation, to remain celibate and avoid temptation. So in a way, the Catholic faith was a victim of its own belief system. A belief that if one is sincerely sorry.. that one can overcome their temptation.

    So related to this was an improper understanding of pedophilia (see next point)

    B) Clinical Psychology up until the 90s had a flawed understanding of pedophilia. Throughout the 60s to 80s - it was believed that if you publicly exposed the pedophile, removed him from temptation and sought a few months of counselling.. the person would not re-offend. They treated pedophilia like a physical relationship with another person. And so many counselors advised the Church to MOVE the Priest away. The idea was that away from the person they are attracted to, they wouldn't re-offend. Especially if they knew they were being 'monitored'

    And so in some cases the Church followed the advise of professionals and we see this in letters advising the next Pastor to 'watch him closely' - and nothing more.

    We now know this doesn't work. But it took decades and perhaps it took the Catholic church a bit longer then the rest of society to understand that simply removing the temptation doesn't "fix" pedophiles.

    Most of the allegations came out in the late 90s and early 2000s - At a time when society understood pedophiles and sexual predators better. Unfortunately, many people applied current understanding to problems spanning 50 years.. and attacked the church for moving priests around or not doing enough.

    C) The media did a really BAD job of reporting the facts. Any competent thesis paper on the topic of sexual abuse should also look at how things were mishandled by the press.

    In some cases the media demanded that the Catholic church strip Priests of their vocation when the Priest was in fact either A) retired or B) dead in some cases.

    - The media applied modern understandings of sexual deviancy to cases going back to the 1950s

    - In some cases the media reported cases spanning over 3 decades as if they just happened.

    - In some cases multiple offenses by one Priest was made to sound like hundreds of cases or priests.

    - Even the terminology was wrong. Technically, since many of the cases involved teenager boys the correct term is not pedophilia but hebephilia. The media missed out on a great opportunity to educate the public, instead sensationalizing things and making ALL cases exactly the same.

    - The media never investigated WHAT or HOW the church tried to make amends or reform. Mentioning only the dirty details, but none of the reforms. - I'm not talking about restitution money, but actual reforms and procedures to ensure this didn't happen again.

    - The media never looked very deeply into why LOCAL authorities did little to nothing. There were multiple cases where the church DID refer things to the local police and they swept things under the carpet or did nothing. The media rarely mentioned this or anytime the Catholic church cooperated.

    - What about the parents? The media also never looked at culturally, how our socieites treatment of sexual abuse has changed and how this played into how the church handled things. Prior to the late 90s..sexual abuse was often simply not reported by the parents or the community as a whole, even when things were known.

    I could go on and on.. but I think a fair assessment of the crisis has to look at both sides and how things were mishandled by the press as well.

    I'm in no way defending the Catholic church.. but I have done my own research and find this issue VERY complex with multiple facets and failings across the board.

  • 7 years ago

    I would continue to work on all three of the issues, but maybe clarify it more and go deep into the depth of the issues. If you only have a single perspective then it will be too narrow, while picking two might be good, the Three issues you outline look to be a good start and do fairly well to outline the issue.

    I think that the major contribution for the sex abuse scandals was the celibacy issue.

    Yes, not all people who are celibate abuse children, but that does not mean that priests who are celibate don't look at pornography, or engage in masturbation. For some it might be hard to believe that a priest would do that, but we have to remember that they are still human, and although they believe they are not above sin nor sins of the flesh. As such, I have researched the issue briefly on my own and come to the conclusion that the issue of celibacy is an unreasonable burden to place upon a priest. The priest's job is to spread the word of God, not follow a mandate of celibacy. The bible also states that it is better that a man should be celibate, but if he can not, he should marry. Mandating celibacy as Catholicism does is wrong.

    Source(s): Raised catholic, now protestant.
  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    4. That the institutional secrecy of the priesthood allowed coverups to occur that might not have occurred in organization with less centralized, hierarchical authority structures.

    The occurrence of sex abuse within the Catholic Church actually is no higher than abuse within other religious organizations. It's just that it's perceived to be more widespread because the Catholic Church is the largest religious organization in the world. A larger clergy population simply means more opportunities for abuse to occur.

    It is the institutional tendency to coverup rather than to confront and prosecute the criminals where the Catholic Church has fallen down.

    Additionally, the incidence of sexual predation within the priesthood seems to correspond with the population at large.

    True, sexual predators put themselves in a position to be alone and in authority over children...but this does not seem to happen more frequently in the preisthood than in the population at large. Due to the spectacular nature of the Catholic sex scandals, people perceive priests as being more inclined to molest than are other people, but this is mere perception and has nothing to do with actual substance or statistics.

    I even have documentation for my position.

    Source(s): agnostic atheist who is willing to look at facts rather than fire off an unthoughtful, knee-jerk reaction against the religious.
  • nobudE
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Celibacy does not a rapist make. In the 50's, weird, socially awkward young men occasionally found themselves in seminary. These weird young men brought with them their weird, young fantasies and urges. Later, they find themselves in a position of some authority and find their old urges too strong to control. No straight-up pedophile will become a priest soley to get to kids, that's what clown suits and ice-cream trucks are for. Hind sight is 20/20.

    Source(s): All 3 of these are over-generalizations of an intensly complex problem.
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  • 7 years ago

    well, considering the biblical claim that all men are sinners, why do you assume it cant be number 2? im not saying it is, im just saying dont assume the church was infiltrated by pedos. maybe some were indeed pedos to begin with, and maybe others were godly men that became pedos...

    your paper will not have a concrete conclusion, due to all the cover-ups surrounding this case, so you are forced to speculate. if i were you i would base my paper on all three options you listed

  • 7 years ago

    Number 1 and 3.

    You see, the Catholic church isn't bad. It's some of the people that are bad in it. They are called wolves in sheeps clothing. I hope you don't judge the church on what these men did. Not all Priests are like that.

  • 7 years ago

    Yeah, I think that anyone that would go through the trouble of becoming an icecream man just to win lil kids` trust would be just as likely to have the patience to become a priest to win it that way. I don`t believe too well that faithful people would touch children.

  • 7 years ago

    1 and 3 , yes, but why not start with the site , school teacher news .com and link to scandals , it will knock you sideways

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    How about:

    4: the children were scheming, seductive jezebels who took advantage of Godly men, and then tried to profit financially from their sinful acts?

    Might get you a few extra marks for controversy.

  • 7 years ago

    The inherent problem with the Catholic Church is that confession and absolution erases sin. So while paedophiles go through that process they have nothing to worry about.

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