Becky Says...

June 2002

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June 13

I really hadn't planned to write about the molestation scandals in the Catholic Church. On some very basic levels it's none of my business. I'm not Catholic, I'm not a parent, and I was never a victim of molestation. But I noticed something tonight that is bothering me.

In all the discussions of who gets the blame for what aspect of the thing, few people seem willing to discuss the notion of personal responsibility. Yes, various levels of the Church hierarchy get blame for covering things up. But "the Church" didn't molest the children; individual priests did that.

While I don't think much of the celibacy requirement, I certainly don't think that rule is the reason the molestations happened. I think we all need to come to an understanding that molestation is a crime. It is violence. It is not a crime of sex (frankly, I don't think there is any such thing as a sex crime, but that's a rant for another day). And it is patently ridiculous to blame all the molestation on gay priests.

Is the Catholic priesthood a safe haven for those who have problems making it in the secular world? Sure it is. So is any ordained ministry. Part of the shock we all seem to be feeling is, I think, rooted in our having long placed clergy on pedestals. We routinely expect the impossible from them in terms of being role models.

Let me break it to you quite gently: I have known a lot of clergy over the course of my life, and to a one they were all human. Sometimes annoyingly so. Some of my closest friends are clergy. Some of my family are clergy. I've had a lot of experience seeing the out-of-the-pulpit side. Therefore, I have no qualm about saying they are not supernatural creatures who eat heavenly manna for breakfast and have lunch and dinner from the leftovers of the loaves and fishes.

And to a one, they are all responsible for their own actions. In all cases. If they sinned, they sinned on their own. The churches didn't make them do it.

Text copyright 2000-2002 Becky