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The Church and Understanding Sexual Evil

Published on February 25, 2019

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Anne Barret Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, complaines of a "disconnect" between the pontiff’s strong statements and his actions and this is not surprising from the head of an institution that has hardly lifted a finger to stop its priests from sexually abusing young members of their congregations.

“The Holy Roman Catholic Church stands accused of hypocrisy and covering up horrendous crimes against children, atrocities against children and nuns. The Church is disgraced. Corruption is rampant as Church officials are accused of hiding abuse because "money, compensation, gifts" or other illegal or unethical activity.” The Pope said, "The brutality of this worldwide phenomenon becomes all the more grave and scandalous in the church, for it is utterly incompatible with her moral authority and ethical credibility."

A top Catholic cardinal admitted during the recent meeting in Rome that Church files on priests who sexually abused children were destroyed or never even drawn up, a move which allowed paedophiles to prey on others. Priests are getting away with sexual crimes. Talking about the Pope one person expressed, “I think it’s helpful that he publicly labeled crimes by the clergy "atrocities"… but his use of that word did not lead to any meaningful reform. There is a disconnect between his strong statements and his actions. Even as he is making these bold pronouncements, he is obstructing justice.”

Victims of Church sex abuse have gone global with their fight for justice while wanting to force the Church to take a "zero tolerance" approach to pedophilia. Survivors of sex abuse are tired of the years of empty rhetoric and lack of action coming from the Vatican. “We’ve been waiting a long time. We’ve waited too long. This is a historic moment. This has never happened before in the history of the Catholic Church.

"They’re going to pray and they’re going to meditate. But it’s totally useless," Tom Doyle said. "You shouldn’t have to have something like this in 2019. These men should know right out of the gate that if you have a priest who’s raping children, you don’t allow them to continue."

After years of struggling alone or finding support in national groups, survivors of sex abuse by priests have formed a new international alliance to pressure the Catholic Church to face up to its crimes. The group, called Ending Clerical Abuse (ECA), brings together activists from dozens of countries on several continents, and mobilized in Rome this past week when Pope Francis hosted  a hotly awaited summit on tackling the wave of child sex abuse scandals shaking the Catholic Church.

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Catholic Church ‘nowhere close’ to confronting

global ‘epidemic’ of child sex abuse by priests

The Catholic Church is "nowhere close" to enacting the reforms needed to stop the "epidemic" of sex abuse by predatory priests and bishops against children, campaigners at the conference warned. Pope Francis is still "in retreat" from any meaningful effort to bring abusers to justice, said Bishop Accountability, a leading pressure group. The scathing criticism comes as the Vatican admits it has secret guidelines on how to deal with priests who break their celibacy vows and sire children.

Mother Superior Joanna Olech of Poland admitted that priests have used nuns as "sexual slaves" and may still be doing so. It is not only Muslims that enjoy keeping sexual slaves.  Its rape, and yet bishops and religious superiors continue to deny or play down the severity of the scandal and protect their priests and the reputation of the church at all costs. Legally and morally these men are destroying the reputation of the largest religious institution in the world. A Polish charity helping victims of child abuse committed by Catholic priests accused 24 bishops on the first day of the conference of concealing perpetrators of sexual molestation of minors.

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At the conference the Pope had many hard words. Francis urged high-ranking church officials from around the globe to "hear the cry of the little ones" who are victims of sexual abuse by priests. The pope cited the "scourge" of sexual abuse and said it was the responsibility of church leaders to "confront this evil afflicting the Church and humanity."

At the end of the conference the Pope vowed to confront the Catholic Church’s clergy sex abuse scandal head-on, calling for priests to be guided by the "holy fear of God" while victims are believed and supported. "The church will spare no effort to do all that is necessary to bring to justice whosoever has committed such crimes. The church will never seek to hush up or not take seriously any case.”

Though the Pope is strong in his words they will not prevent the abuses from happening in the future because the holy fear of God does not stand up strongly enough in the face of sexual addition, sexual need or even the simple need to touch and be touched.

"Pope Francis’ talk at the end of the conference was a stunning letdown, a catastrophic misreading of the grief and outrage of the faithful," said Doyle. "If the powerful testimonies of the past week moved the needle in the right direction, the Pope today moved it back."

Understanding Sexual Evil

In the words of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, “…morally speaking, there is no limit to the concern one must feel for the suffering of human beings, that indifference to evil is worse than evil itself, that in a free society, some are guilty, but all are responsible.”

Recently, “Millions of women and girls around the world have identified themselves as survivors of various forms of harassment and violence, men themselves have displayed a spectrum of emotions. These range from predictable denial and minimization of the issue all the way to full-fledged expressions of empathy and a desire to — finally! — take more of a stand against pervasive misogyny. The true test of men’s commitment to the women and girls in our lives is whether we can take our empathy to the next level and actually do something to address men’s violence against women,” writes Jackson Katz is an educator, author and the co-founder of Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP)

Dr. James W. Prescott contends that the greatest threat to world peace comes from those nations that have the most depriving environments for their children and that are most repressive of sexual affection and female sexuality.

“The association of sex with violence provides a clue to understanding physical violence in terms of deprivation of physical pleasure. Unlike violence, pleasure seems to be something the world can’t get enough of. People are constantly in search of new forms of pleasure, yet most of our “pleasure” activities appear to be substitutes for the natural sensory pleasures of touching. We touch for pleasure or for pain or we don’t touch at all. Although physical pleasure and physical violence seem worlds apart, there seems to be a subtle and intimate connection between the two. Until the relationship between pleasure and violence is understood, violence will continue to escalate.”

“As a developmental neuropsychologist I have devoted a great deal of study to the peculiar relationship between violence and pleasure. I am now convinced that the deprivation of physical sensory pleasure is the principal root cause of violence.”

Celibacy is an incubator for sensory deprivation and is one of the root causes of priests problems with keeping their hands to themselves. No mention was made at the conference that one of the root causes of priests abusing their flocks is the wrongness and in many cases the impossibility of staying celibate.

Putting the problem in Religious Context

There is no joy in probing the sexual violence so prevalent in us humans. There is a host of pictures on google that give at least a partial glimpse of the human devastation of rape, which has always been an epidemic among us humans. Rape has a religious dimension where we have Muslim men raping and enslaving infidel women with religious justification and Catholic Priests raping the young. Catholic priests continue their own rampage and it is on the scale of Islamic sanctioned treatment of infidel women.  

“Out of political-correctness, they have deliberately turned a blind eye to Islam. They have refused to inform themselves about its true nature. They refuse to acknowledge that is all in the Koran: the permission to kill Jews and Christians (Surah 9:29), to terrorize non-Muslims (8:12), to rape young girls (65:4), to enslave people for sex (4:3), to lie about one’s true goals (3:54), and the command to make war on the infidels (9:123) and subjugate the entire world to Allah (9:33).”

When asked why he did not describe a priest’s murder and other attacks as Islamic terrorism, Francis replied, “It’s not right to identify Islam with violence. If I speak of Islamic violence, then I have to speak of Catholic violence.” Francis also said recently that, "Killing in God’s name is satanic," which is what Islamic terrorists do. The Pope clearly does not want to speak about the violence of the Church, which has been going on for almost 2,000 years.

One has to wonder why the Pope has not commented on the rape epidemic in Europe. Why has the Pope not become alarmed that as women were being molested in mass a few New Year’s Eve ago and that it was taking place in front of a cathedral?

Why did he not said anything about the fact that the cathedral itself was under attack for hours by fireworks on that same night, disturbing all inside. “If you want to humble an empire it makes sense to maim its cathedrals. They are symbols of its faith, and when they crumple and burn, it tells us we are not so powerful and we can’t be safe.”

Conclusion

The Catholic Church will not defend the West from the violence of Islam and it will not protect Catholic children from being sexually abused by its priests. The Catholic Church has required celibacy from its priests for centuries, yet those vows were broken so frequently that the Vatican established a secret set of guidelines for dealing with clerics who fathered children that virtually let them get away with child sexual abuse, which is a soft way of saying rape of children. Celibacy obviously does not work for too many priests and neither does a male dominated system.

There is a global support group, Coping International, that provides counseling and resources to “children of the ordained,’’ as the church calls them. The organization’s website has 50,000 users in 175 countries just to give you an idea of how much of a problem this is.

Union of Superiors General and its female counterpart, the International Union of Superiors General, which includes more than 100,000 priests and more than 500,000 religious sisters around the world, understand that abusers are manipulative and deliberately hide their actions. Leaders failed to see or take seriously the warning signs of abuse and exhibited “a shameful lack of capacity to understand your pain.

People in general and their doctors do not take their stress levels seriously enough and even fewer understand that the stress can end their life with cancer. In the context of this essay on sexual abuse it is important to understand that the most common cause of Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in women is sexual trauma. A person’s vulnerability to develop PTSD is linked to a persons history of victimization. Reports estimate that 15%-38% of women experience childhood sexual abuse, 13% to 20% experience adult rape and at least 20% experience battering.

Complex post-traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is a psychological injury that results from protracted exposure to prolonged social and/or interpersonal trauma with lack or loss of control, dis-empowerment, and in the context of either captivity or entrapment, i.e. the lack of a viable escape route for the victim. C-PTSD is distinct from, but similar to, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

C-PTSD was first described in 1992 by Judith Herman in her book Trauma & Recovery. Forms of trauma associated with C-PTSD include sexual abuse (especially child sexual abuse), physical abuse, emotional abuse, domestic violence or torture — all repeated traumas in which there is an actual or perceived inability for the victim to escape.

Will They Ever Learn

Pope Francis may have ended his clergy sex abuse prevention summit at the Vatican, but a scandal over an Argentine bishop close to him is only gaining steam. The Associated Press has reported that the Vatican knew as early as 2015 about Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta’s inappropriate behavior with seminarians. Yet he was allowed to stay as bishop of Oran on until August 2017, when he resigned suddenly, only to be given a top job at the Vatican by the pope.

Pope vows to end abuse cover-ups but victims at the conference were disappointed. Failure to offer a concrete action plan to hold bishops accountable when they failed to protect their flocks from predators disappointed survivors, who had expected more.

No mention was made, as expected, to rescind celibacy doctrines nor allow women as priests to help balance the Churches all male madness. Nor was mention made of basic Church attitudes toward pleasure. Deprivation of physical sensory pleasure is built into the Catholic code on sexuality and if truth be known, the entire institution of the Church would rather all these children and nuns be abused then change their basic tenants. That is the basic problems with religion, refusal to change through the inability to see their dark sides.

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Dr. Mark Sircus AC., OMD, DM (P)

Director International Medical Veritas Association
Doctor of Oriental and Pastoral Medicine

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