Thursday, December 3, 2009

The truth about priests

Here is an excellent article published on MacLean's web site. I found it very balanced and down to earth. It talks about the horrible sexual abuses committed by too many priests over the years. It offers a very compassionate discussion of the immense suffering that the victims have undergone. It sympathizes with the contempt that good priests now have to face because of the sins of their brothers. But the article points to a truth that is too often overlooked and that needs to be repeated:

But at the risk of downplaying decades of unspeakable abuse—or forgiving a Church hierarchy that moved heaven and earth to suppress scandal and protect criminal clergy—an obvious point is often ignored: the vast, vast majority of Catholic priests are not sexual predators. In fact, the scientific research suggests that men who target children are no more pervasive in the priesthood (and perhaps less pervasive) than in any other segment of society. Depending on the study, somewhere between two and four per cent of priests have had sexual contact with a minor. Or, to put it another way, between 96 and 98 per cent have not.

“It’s part of that myth—the myth of the pedophile priest who can’t help himself,” says Thomas Plante, a psychology professor at Santa Clara University who has published dozens of studies about sexually abusive priests. “It’s really an issue of perception rather than reality. Believe it or not, probably the safest place for a kid to be is in a Catholic church environment.”

My only reservation with this article is that it tends to use the term "pedophile" to describe these priests who abuse children. Later they say that a more accurate term would be "ephebophiles,": which means "people attracted to post-pubescent boys, typically between 13 and 17." In either case, I think they're missing the elephant in the room.  Virtually all the victims are boys. You know, as in the male gender.  Priests are men, also of the male gender.  These crimes have a homosexual nature. The article tries to debunk that theory, but I think their arguments are weak on that point. 

That being said, the article is largely positive about debunking the myth that every priest is a pedophile.  That's rare in the mainstream media and I commend them for that.  

We need to stand up for good priests. On this blog, I have certainly criticized some members of the clergy for their obstinate errors. That needs to be done, unfortunately, for their sake and for ours. I take no pleasure in doing it, but I firmly believe that the Church grows stronger when light is shone on the areas of darkness.  However, I have also applauded the virtuous acts of faithful clergymen. We need to do lots of that too. LOTS. We need to love our priests and support them as they strive to live up to the high demands of the priesthood.

Satan attacks the priesthood because he knows that when the shepherd is struck, the sheep are scattered. The priests also represent Christ.  Since Satan can't lay a finger on Christ, he attacks the next closest thing.  Moreover, without priests, we can't have five of the seven sacraments. 

Of course, it's not enough to just have priests. They need to be faithful priests, otherwise they might do more damage than good, as we've witnessed so often.

So please pray for our priests. Don't let a day go by without lifting a prayer for them towards Heaven.