Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Priesthood, Celibacy and Respect for others...

Imagine this scenario for a minute:
You ordain a straight priest.  You ask him to take vows of obedience, chastity and celibacy.  Then you put him in a women's monastery for the rest of his life, where he will be sharing meals, activities, common rooms and bathrooms with all kinds of women, many of them young and attractive.  Does expecting him to remain chaste and celibate while spending most of his time with women sound a little far-fetched?

But then can one expect the same of a gay priest who spends most of his time in a community with other men, some of them also gay, and many of whom are quite attractive?

For a man who has no desire at all for marriage with a woman, to be asked to give up marriage and live all his life with men he is attracted to is either an excruciating, intolerable, practically impossible sacrifice in the case where he does remain faithful to his vows of celibacy and chastity, or it is not a sacrifice at all. Can a gay priest ever really understand what it means to give up marriage, or even appreciate marriage between a man and women? I suppose some can. But it might certainly make it a lot harder.

If a gay priest does break the vows of celibacy and chastity then, how can he be expected to keep other vows as well? When you start down a road of broken vows and secrecy, unless you make an effort to stop and to avoid further temptation, things only get worse. You need to cover it up. You live a lie. This is not the path to becoming an straightforward, honest and virtuous man. It makes you manipulable. Anyone can blackmail a man who has something to hide. Better to be openly gay in the secular world, than to be secretly gay as a priest.

On a semi-related note:
Only a very small percentage of priests have ever abused minors. 80% of them were apparently not cases of pedophilia but cases of ephebophilia, according to Vatican officials. (Adult men preying on adolescent or pre-pubescent boys instead of young girls). Now, I don't know if these were gay priests preying on boys or not, I assume some of them were, but it would seem that ephebophilia is a problem with married heterosexual men as well. In fact, it would seem that there are actually more cases of abuse among married, protestant ministers than among unmarried Roman Catholic priests and that most acts of sexual abuse against minors are actually committed by sports trainers (or by Hollywood directors).

So the argument that celibacy causes pedophilia (or ephebophilia) has no foundation and it is obviously not a given that the perpetrators are gay either. In fact, in the two cases of ephebophilia where I have actually known people involved, neither perpetrator was a celibate priest, one was a married soccer coach and the other a teenager over 16 years old.

Hollywood is equally as bad, if not worse than the Church, and the underground network there, protecting perpetrators and making it difficult to denounce anyone is just as scandalous. (And again, the perpetrators are neither celibate nor necessarily gay.) But mainstream media prefers to bash the Catholic Church all the while pretending not to notice that the problem also lies elsewhere in perhaps greater numbers.

So really, the solution to this does not lie in bringing down the Catholic Church, abolishing celibacy (or marriage) or destroying Hollywood. Something bigger needs to be done. Somehow, people in all walks of life are just screwed up. Why?

You know, in a society that has become so permissive that there no longer is a truth; there no longer is an ideal path to follow; there no longer is a desire for holiness; there no longer is any appreciation of sacrifice for the greater good, is it so surprising that this kind of thing is rampant everywhere? When men EXPECT to get laid on their first date with a girl, when men do NOT respect a girl's wishes to not have sex, cannot even conceive of sacrificing sex for a better relationship, do not even believe that a girl really might not wish to have sex, when they think that they only have to CONVINCE her, to coerce her, to arouse her against her wishes, why would they stop there? Anyone is open season. When men NO LONGER LISTEN to anyone but their own hormones, when sex has replaced God, when porn has replaced prayer, then is it any wonder that enormous amounts of abuse occur, and are often covered up, or never even acknowledged?

I know of too many women who were coerced into sex by their boyfriends, BETRAYED by those they trusted. Too many women who regret it later. Too many women who blame themselves. Too many women who have become cynical towards men. This kind of abuse is so frequent and no one seems to notice. Is the idea that women might not want to have sex with their boyfriends so backwards and impossible to believe? This kind of abuse does not just hurt the women involved, it ALSO hurts the men out there who DO respect and care for women, and aren't just in the game for what they can get out of it. Because women are cynical and distrustful of them too.

Is it any wonder then, if adult women are so consistently taken advantage of, that children are also at risk?