The Associated Press published an insightful article by Frances D'Emilio on 30 October 2008. The article begins by a citation "Vatican City" and proceeds to discuss new announced screening guidelines for priests. The article states:
"The church said it issued the new guidelines to help church leaders weed out candidates with 'psychopathic disturbances.' The scandals have rocked the church in recent years, triggering lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said the Vatican needs to go beyond screening seminarians to end what the group calls the church's 'virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy' that left dangerous priests in parishes.
A 2005 Vatican document said men with 'deep seated' homosexual tendencies shouldn't be ordained, but those with a 'transitory problem' could become priests if they had overcome them for three years.
The new guidelines reflect the earlier teaching, stressing that if a future priest shows 'deep seated homosexual tendencies,' his seminary training 'would have to be interrupted."
The above, are quotes from the more lengthy article. But, what the article reveals is the strategy of the hierarchy, at least those in the Vatican, to play a sort of "shell game" with the pedophilia sex scandal. They begin by announcing new psychological screening guidelines for seminarians. Sounds good, so far. Then they speak about "psychopathic disturbances" OK, most everyone would agree that pedophilia falls in this category, it is listed as a disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. But then, the guidelines suddenly switch gears and introduce the issue of homosexuality.
Pedophilia is a mental disorder. It has ZERO to do with the gender or the sexual orientation of the pedophile. What it has to do with is that an adult suffers from an impulsive mental disorder in which he/she engages in sexual relationships with minors. There are both male and female pedophiles, there are both heterosexual and homosexual pedophiles. The issue is pedophilia not gender or orientation. So, why mix the two subjects in these new guidelines?
Certainly, the Vatican officials who created these new guidelines are aware of these psychological distinctions. The simple truth is that any organization which works with children will draw its share of pedophiles. Be it a school district, a scouting troop, a youth program, it stands to reason that pedophiles will be drawn to professions and circumstances which grant them exposure to children. The church sex scandal was not about the fact that some pedophiles made it into the ranks of the priesthood and abused children. It was about the fact that bishops who became aware of these pedophiles covered up their crimes and moved them around in an attempt to protect the institution from scandal and lawsuits.
So, now, in a new guideline, that whole subject is again side stepped and homosexuals are being set up as the scapegoat for the institution. It was just those dirty homosexuals if, we got rid of them, there would never have been a problem in the first place. Well, not so if you believe psychologists or the Survivors Network. The truth is that most pedophiles are heterosexual and that most pedophilia is incestuous. The myth that most pedophiles are homosexual is socially comforting because, it gives the illusion that it is "those" people outside of our family who are a danger. When in fact, it is usually a family member who, is probably heterosexual who is the most likely predator. While it is true that in the case of the church sex scandals, most pedophiles were homosexual, the bottom line remains that this is a mental disorder not directly associated with sexual orientation.
A pedophile, is after all, an adult who seeks out and has sexual liaisons with minors. When you look at the educational system used by the church to train priests, a disturbing specter begins to emerge from the mist. Minor seminaries. Young adolescents were enrolled into minor seminaries starting their studies for the priesthood at 13 and 14 years of age. They were inserted into an all male environment, not permitted to date and effectively stunted in their psycho sexual development. They became, though never intended as such, pedophile factories. The irony is, that most of these High School Seminaries had closed by the time that the sex scandal exploded.
Needless to say, this is a huge embarrassment to the hierarchy and also constitutes a question of legal liability. As they state: triggering lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements." So, introducing the question of homosexuality into the guidelines seems very suspect indeed. There is no psychological basis for doing so, and it seems to be but a diversion of responsibility from the hierarchy to a scapegoat minority group.
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- An open letter to my parish community.
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- When the Church married Same-Sex couples.
- The Supreme Court’s Decisions and the New Mason-Dixon Line
- How It All began
- What the Vatican & American bishops DO NOT want you (and Politicians) to know.
- The Morality of Sex, gay & straight.
- San Francisco in archbishop Cordileone’s sight