May 10, 2002 (Ira Pilgrim)
Mom wanted me to become a priest, which I think is a tough occupation. Can you imagine giving up your sex life and then once a week people come in to tell you all the highlights of theirs?
There are priests who engage in homosexual activity, priests who have sex with women, and priests who have sexual contact with children. So, what's new? About 700 years ago, Giovanni Boccaccio(1313-1375) wrote The Decameron. I read it when I was in high school. It was as close to pornography as I could get in those days. One of his stories concerns a Jew who was a good friend of a Christian. He decided that he was going to convert to Catholicism, but before he did, he wanted to find out what was going on in Rome. His friend figured that it was a lost cause, because once his Jewish friend saw what debauchery went on there, he would never convert. The Jew, "From his own observation --for he was a very acute man-- and from what he heard through others, he discovered that from the highest to the lowest they all generally and most unworthily indulged in the sin of lechery, not only in the natural way but sodomitically, without the slightest remorse or shame. And this to such an extent that the power of courtesans and boys was of considerable importance in obtaining any favor." This is just a small sample of the story. Much to the Christian's surprise, his Jewish friend converted because he thought that if a religion could survive and increase in spite of what went on in Rome, that "The Holy Spirit is its support and foundation."
What surprises me, therefore, is not what happened in this country, but the fact that the church couldn't keep it secret any longer and that now, even The Pope has condemned it.
I don't believe that the Catholic church's insistence on celibacy has anything to do with it. There are married homosexuals and pedophiles. If it were looked into, I think that you would find that the same situation exists in any place where people have power over children and women. This would include any church, school, or political institution. The kind of person who would molest a child can be expected to be attracted to jobs like priest or teacher. As bank robber Willy Sutton said when asked why he robbed banks: "Because that's where the money is."
I am sure that those incidents represent a very small minority of priests. The crime, in my opinion, has been the long lasting cover up and toleration of priests who should have been languishing in jail. Certainly they should not have been allowed to remain in the church. The cases that have come to our attention have not been priests who strayed off the straight and narrow once or twice. These are priests to whom pedophilia had become a way of life. The way that Boston's Cardinal Law has handled it borders on the criminal. That a man with such poor judgment should be in a position of such great power reflects very badly on the church. He should be deprived of his red beret and sent to a small Catholic parish in Idaho. If that actually happens, it might count as a miracle which would make the current pope eligible for eventual sainthood.
I have been told by a priest that it is considered a score by some women to seduce a priest. The honest priests know this and resist it. A few succumb once or twice. Others, like Santa Rosa's Father Kimball, blame the church for not preparing them to deal with what very few men can deal with. I don't know whether it is possible to prepare any man for an attractive seductive woman.
Many of those who become priests do so at an early age. A few discover that the celibate life is not for them. The honest ones leave the Catholic church. Some remain priests and move to religions such as Episcopalianism, that do not require celibacy in their clergy. A few stay and take advantage of their power to gratify their sexual desires.
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