The Pope’s solution to Priesthood child sexual abuse: Pray the pedophilic gay away!

So apparently Pope Benedict’s brilliant solution to the problem of pedophilia in the Priesthood is to pray for things to get better.

Richard Owen of TimesOnline writes

Pope Benedict XVI has instructed Roman Catholics to pray “in perpetuity” to cleanse the Church of paedophile clergy. All dioceses, parishes, monasteries, convents and seminaries will be expected to organise continuous daily prayers to express penitence and to purify the clergy.

Vatican officials said that every parish or institution should designate a person or group each day to conduct continuous prayers for the Church to rid itself of the scandal of sexual abuse by clergy. Alternatively, churches in the same diocese could share the duty. Prayer would take place in one parish for 24 hours, then move to another.

Officials said that the prayers were in addition to support for legal action against paedophile priests by their victims and a code adopted two years ago by the Vatican to try to ensure that men “with deep-seated homosexual tendencies” do not enter seminaries to train for the priesthood.

PZ Myers, in his standard “it’s funny because it’s true” sarcastic wit points out a few other fairly obvious options the Pope may want to consider:

In a rational world, there’s a range of options available: stop protecting priests who abuse their position, threaten convicted child-abusing priests with expulsion and excommunication, even revisit this peculiar custom of demanding celibacy for the priesthood.

After reviewing the Pope’s chosen plan of action, PZ offers the following commentary:

Pray harder! Exercise a completely ineffective technique more strenuously!

I do wonder how the Pope imagines god will “cleanse” the church. Just tweaking the brains of priests so they don’t feel lust anymore would be a violation of free will and make a mess of centuries of theology, while having god get all Old Testament on the church and smite priests all around the world with lightning bolts would be spectacular and effective, but probably very bad PR.

Bad PR indeed. But at least it would shut all of us atheists up once and for all.

In the Pope’s defense, he does also cite the church’s support for legal action against paedophile priests. You’ll have to excuse my skepticism as to the goodness of the intentions, not to mention the truth behind this position, what with the Church having spent how many years silencing sexually abused children, attempting to keep the public ignorant of what was happening behind the doors of thousands of priests, and protecting and continuing to employ known paedophile priests. I’m more inclined to believe that this “support for legal action against paedophile priests” is more of a position of necessity than one of Godly goodwill.

Another thing that I find curious about the Church’s position regarding these matters is their plan to ensure that men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” do not enter seminaries to train for the priesthood. I find it curious that they view homosexuality as a root problem here. If it were thousands of little girls that had been sexually abused would the Church’s solution have included ensuring that men with deep-seated heterosexual tendencies are weeded out from priesthood training? Surely not. Homosexuality is not the problem here. It’s homosexuality directed at trusting, vulnerable and manipulable minors. Instead of trying to pass some of the buck off to dreaded homosexuality, perhaps the Church should take a look at their own policies. Could a lifetime of enforced celibacy have anything to do with this?



A commentor on this post, Don, raised some points:

  • I did not cite much in the way of tangible efforts on the part of the Catholic Church to discourage paedophilia. If anyone would like to provide citations of tangible efforts made, please do so.
  • Don argues that a notable amount of priests enter the priesthood because they are interested in having sexual access to young children. Does anyone have any evidence for or against this?
  • Don also argues that a notable amount of priests enter the priesthood because they think it will help them change their ways (e.g., homosexuality, attraction to youths).

To see Don’s comment in full and my reply, scroll down.

6 Responses to “The Pope’s solution to Priesthood child sexual abuse: Pray the pedophilic gay away!”
  1. Jason says:

    The Catholic Church hid the truth for far too long and the beurocracy that exists is probably covering up more crimes right now.

    And, I also agree with you that homosexuality is not the problem that is at the root of this. They are exascerbating an old, old stereotype. Shame on them.

    All of that said, as a Christian, I think a call to prayer is not a bad response (so long as it takes place with the other obvious things that need to be done). Prayer assumes that there are issues at work here that go deeper than the church can solve even if it were giving its best efforts to solve the problem.

  2. Don says:

    The Church has done tangible things. It is not just trying to pray away the problem. Please take sometime and read information that comes from the Catholic Church not just what is found in the media.
    A celibate life is not the problem, it is men who join the priesthood to get access to young children and other priests who think that by becoming a priest that this will help them get rid of their problem. All the Church can do is run background checks on seminarians and ask them questions. If someone is going to lie, there is nothing that can be done to prevent a pedophile from becoming a priest.

    It is interesting here in the US that sexual misconduct plagues US schools. Over 2500 educators had allegations of sexual misconduct brought vs. them in a four year period from 2001 to 2005. While with the Catholic Church in the US 4,400 priests were accused of molesting minors in a fifty-two year period from 1950 to 2002.

    It seems to me if people really had a problem with pedophilia there would be outrage vs. teachers but there isn’t. People like to beat up on religion more than really care for children. Here’s the information if you’re interested:

  3. ronbrown says:

    This seems like a very fair reply. I did cite that the church supports legal actions, though was and am skeptical of the motives: is it purely about genuine concern, or is it more of a response to having been exposed? With the issue of pedophilia in the Church, the issue hasn’t been so much how many times it has happened, but the Church’s protection of the mollestors and continued employment of them, silencing of children, and great efforts to keep all of this out of the public eye. They clearly cared far more about their own power and that of the Church, and the public and internal reputation of the Church than these children.

    I had not heard about there being a substantial about of men entering the Priesthood either for the purpose of having access to young children or because they think it will help “cure” them.

    As for the school issues, certainly it is not good to see abuse happening there either. Now, correct me if I’m wrong as I only read about the first 25% of the article, but it doesn’t seem that the school boards are protecting the culprits. In one of the example cases I read, the teacher lost his job and went on to teach again (and molest again) in a few other states. Now, I’m not sure the entire history of this case, but it doesn’t sound like he was protected. And I don’t know why he was able to molest so many more students—whether this was due to prolonged silence on the part of students, negligent school boards, etc.—but to my knowledge, school boards tend not to protect molestors. And in any case in which such a thing has ever occurred, such acts deserve just as much condemnation as such behaviour on the part of any church.

    I should mention that in Canada, and presumably the States, too, there is an issue of students fabricating stories of sexual misconduct on the part of teachers, perhaps because they didn’t like the teacher, the teacher punished them or gave them a poor grade, or perhaps they were attracted to the teacher and the teacher did not reciprocate. This really is a problem. I have friends in teacher’s college who tell me that the result of fear of sexual misconduct suits has resulted in teachers becoming increasingly detached from their students. My friends are taught in teacher’s college how to escape being hugged by a student in a socially inoffensive manner. Severing the potential for student-teacher bonding is terrible for education. Anyhow, it’s a problem. I’m not sure how much of a problem false allegations of sexual misconduct has been in the Catholic Church.

    I will post an addendum to the initial article stating some of your points.

  4. Jason says:

    Excellent points, Don, about the education system.

    It is easier to blame a religious organization or institution. The assumption is that these organizations and institutions will somehow be “sin” free. Within the public school system we are more willing to make allowances for a “pervert janitor” to infiltrate the system.

    Maybe the Pope should declare a year of praying for the world’s schools 🙂

  5. ronbrown says:


    There are some valid differences between religious and educational institutions that warrant treating infractions by the former different, and in some ways worse, than the latter. Religious institutions claim to be moral authorities. So when the leaders of these groups supposed moral authorities go and do things that people consider to be morally dubious, it is understandably more appalling than when a teacher or janitor of a school does it. There is also a strong element of hypocrisy as well, as these supposed moral authorities have built part of their theistic industry around telling people how to act, praising good behaviour and condeming bad behaviour. So for leaders of these organizations to be doing this sort of thing is just extra appalling. And then you add the secrecy, the silencing of victims, and the protection of offenders to it…. And you add also that a meaningful proportion of the world’s citizens seem to believe that religion is necessary for morality and that nonbelievers are somehow morally deficient, and stories like this have another level of added importance.

  6. Jason says:

    I agree that it becomes extra-appalling when religious leaders do the same thing. I don’t know that I can go so far as to agree with the phrase “theistic industry”, however.

    THe issue with teachers becomes a bit more personal to me; having a daughter who just started Kindergarten this year. Each day, I have to trust that her teachers and the school’s administrators are not only well-trained in education, but are also men and women of good moral fiber. I trust my daughter to them for many hours a week. When I hear my 5 year old speak about her teachers it is amazing how much impact they have in her life. They are an authority for her; not just in intellectual pursuits, but also in how she makes moral judgments and decisions about right and wrong.

    In this way, child-sexual abuse in the school system has much the same impact that it does in the church. An institution that the larger public trusts breeches that trust and significant damage is done to human community.

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