Pope Benedict XVI listened to 24 Irish bishops on the subject of pedophilia practiced by Irish Catholic clergy over the last several decades. Since the horrible facts have come to light at least four bishops have offered resignations, with one being accepted. Some of the Irish bishops appear to be in denial that they are share responsibility for the abuse of children by their priests.
The Pope’s mission to Ireland was not meant to trigger a wave of resignations, but to allow him to get information firsthand about the situation. We have been fortunate that Pope Benedict XVI seems to take priestly molestation and rape seriously. But we wonder: Is the Pope going far enough to protect children and punish pedophilic clergy?
For recent reporting on the Pope and the Irish Clergy Sex Scandal by Elisabetta Povoleda and Alan Powell in the online New York Times click this article: Pope Urges Irish Bishops to Confront Sex Abuse
Pope Benedict’s Forthcoming Pastoral Letter
In the coming weeks the Pope will release a pastoral letter on the subject of priest abuse of minors. We hope that it will offer concrete steps to control this plague of out of control priests and bishops who are corrupting Ireland and other countries.
Is the Pope Going Too Far, or Not Far Enough?
Organizations started by clergy abuse survivors have been disappointed with Pope Benedict’s actions so far. They would like him to go further. Some would like to see him replace all of the Irish bishops.
How to Replace the Irish Bishops
The Catholics and other citizens of Ireland deserve clergy
a. Who they can trust, who will not lie to them
b. Who will not cause scandal, and
c. Who will not molest their children.
This is not an unreasonable set of criteria. But how can we get this type of clergy?
If the Pope replaced all of the Irish bishops where would he get new ones? He has two sources of potential bishops for Ireland.
First, after careful scrutiny and background checks, he could elevate some untainted Irish priests to the bishopric.
Second, he could bring in bishops from elsewhere.
The bishop of a diocese does not have to be the same nationality as the parishioners. On grounds of national pride, many would object to a “foreign” cleric as their bishop. But better a clean foreign bishop, than a pedophilia-tainted local guy. And, after all, we are all members of the Body of Christ. Real Christianity should not be obsessed with something so tribal as nationalities.
The Pope could direct Irish clergy to turn over all pertinent documents to the police so that civil prosecutions can take place. It would also be good to have some of these fellows, especially the ones in denial, defrocked, by the Pope.
Is the Pope Going Too Far in His Attention to Pedophilia?
There are also those who feel the Pope has gone too far by paying so much attention to the Irish Catholic clergy’s scandal. Usually these tend to be people who are very conservative in their politics and who do not have children at risk.
If a person is truly Pro-Life, they would not tolerate priests and bishops who molest our children.
Some argue that only a small percentage of clergy are corrupt and they do not truly represent the Church. I actually agree with that. The numbers of horrid clergy out molesting children, or priests and bishops, who look the other way and won’t report it, is actually small compared to the total number of priests and religious in the Roman Catholic Church.
Since they are such a small number in the big picture, then that should make it all the more simple to defrock them, have civil authorities prosecute them, and offer healing and reparations to those harmed by them.
100 Hundred Years of Repentance
These corrupt clergy have damaged numerous individuals and the Catholic Church. The Church needs to do a hundred years of repentance for the actions of its members, even though the number of perpetrators is relatively small.
Sure, But Other Religions Have Sex Scandals, Focus There!
Some Catholic say, why focus on us? What about X, Y, and Z? They have pedophiles too, they have molesters too! I have actually seen a respected Catholic bishop assert this. When you are a member of the largest Christian denomination in the world, then scrutiny of both your good works and your bad works is normal.
Still, some say: But those other guys did bad things to kids too – Pay Attention to Them!
Yes, it is true that other Christian denominations, and even non-Christian and non-monotheistic religions, have had (and are having right now) their very own sex abuse scandals.
Yet, it is wrong for me (and you) to gloat over the misfortunes of others, or to try and use them as something to hide behind and thus ignore the unfolding tragedy in my own Roman Catholic Church. I need to clean up my own church before I start throwing rocks at other people’s religions. To do otherwise would be a hypocritical action…and I seem to recall that Jesus does not want me to be a hypocrite.
Priest Abuse Causes PTSD
We know that clergy sex abuse damages the souls of all involved. It harms the spirit of
a. the abused child, and even
b. the abusing priest, and also
c. the soul of the bishop who covers-up the sex crime.
All involved are vulnerable to the soul wound of PTSD. Even perpetrators get PTSD (For more on this see: Types of PTSD).
If you have PTSD from clergy abuse, then you need to know:
a. That PTSD is a normal response to clergy abuse
b. That the clergy involved are criminals
c. That the clergy involved are not the Church
d. That God loves you and your soul can heal
You have value; God welcomes you to share your pain and to start draining the PTSD soul wound that was inflicted on you.
We await Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral letter on the subject of child abuse by clergy. It is suppose to come out in a couple of weeks. We hope he will protect us from these dangerous people. We hope that his actions will better allow all of the wounded to heal.
Semper Pax, Dr. Z