The Priest Problem


Beth and I recently watched Deliver Us From Evil, a documentary dealing with the sexual abuse scandals among Catholic clergy, and I have to say it was incredibly disturbing. It focused on Father Oliver O’Grady, who molested both boys and girls, and apparently once even raped a baby. The Church’s initial solution to this was, whenever there was a complaint, they’d move him to another parish where nobody knew about it. I understand that’s quite common with priests who molest children, and it obviously only makes things worse. Eventually, O’Grady did serve jail time, but after that he was deported to Ireland where he’s not being punished at all, and is free to be around kids. There was footage of O’Grady himself discussing the issue, and while he knew what he did was wrong, he didn’t really seem to be remorseful. At one point, he actually sent the people he’d molested as children invitations to come talk to him one-on-one, which just proves how totally clueless he is. He also mentioned that he had been molested by a priest when he was a kid, but didn’t see any connection. Yeah, sure. So why is this so common among priests? Is it that men who already have such tendencies become priests so that they can have access to children, or is it something in the nature of the priesthood? One of the people interviewed for the film, a canon lawyer who had actually been reprimanded and dismissed from positions by the Church for being too hard on child molesters (there’s a phrase you probably never thought you’d see), said that it could have something to do with how the Catholic hierarchy essentially makes priests absolute monarchs within their parishes, and we all know absolute power corrupts absolutely. The celibacy vow was also brought up, and while I agree that’s a rule that probably needs to be repealed, I don’t think a lack of sex would make me find five-year-olds attractive. The film, however, made the point that, if you say all sex is equally bad for a priest, it makes it seem like child rape is no worse than an affair with a consenting adult. One of the people interviewed mentioned that clerical celibacy was really just started for money anyway, because having no family meant the church was more likely to get a priest’s money after he died. Considering how much the Church is spending on covering up these scandals, you’d think they’d weigh their options on this one, but it appears that even now the Church’s way of dealing with this serious problem is to stick their fingers in their ears and go “la la la.” Which brings up the question of whether, even in this secular age, the Catholic Church is just too powerful to prosecute. And I’m not bashing Catholicism in particular, really, but rather the idea that ANY organization can be too powerful to be taken to task for what they do wrong, especially in the case of something that everyone can agree is heinous. I think I’ve mentioned before how the current Pope claims that moral relativism is one of the biggest problems in society today, but in this case in which no one takes a relativist position, he’s just turning a blind eye.

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12 Responses to The Priest Problem

  1. ozaline says:

    have you read Matilda Gage’s “Women, Church, and State”? Her chapter on celibacy in the church brings up several points on this and how she thought it lead to cases of rape… there were people discussing this over 100 years ago. So yeah wow.

  2. ozaline says:

    On another note one theory I’ve heard is that many young men who discover they are pedophiles might enter the preisthood hoping that the discipline and spirituality of it will turn their minds from such thoughts… but instead they find they are in a position of power and can have what they want and likely get away with it.

  3. I also think there may be some prejudice/stereotyping involved in the COVERAGE of priest-related pedophilia– it gets hyped more than similar incidents of other people in positions of power over children– religious leaders of other denominations, teachers, camp councelors, relatives, step-relatives, whatever, there are probably just as many incidents– if not more, in the case of relatives (maybe less in teachers, because there’s so much screening involved there)– among these as there are among priests, but people who already scorn the Catholic Church for whatever other reason are much more likely to make jokes/a fuss about it among priests.

    My church has a big policy of everyone who is involved in church business in ANY way getting clearances/training on the subject of “protecting the children.” I don’t know if these policies are becoming more common in Catholic churches across the board or what, but I wouldn’t say it’s CURRENTLY being ENTIRELY ignored.

    • Nathan says:

      Yeah, I’m sure that child molestation by authority figures isn’t limited to priests, but the priests probably get reported on more often due to the sensationalism.

      I’m glad precautions are being taken at the lower level, because I don’t know of any evidence that the Vatican is really doing anything.

      • I know it’s not just the catholic churches where this is a problem. More and more often people are coming forward to report pastors in other churches. It’s sad that people who have so much power over children would use it in such a way.

  4. Going to be watching that documentary now. It’s always good to find a new documentary.

  5. patricia says:

    It is said that about 30 million children are victims of pedophile catholic priests and nearly 6 million childern had committed suicide caused by pedophile catholic priests in the world. I don’t understand why some these priests are pedophiles, it is very compilcated. I had NEVER heard of Pedophile catholic priests scandal for more than 30 years!!

  6. patricia says:

    Jesus said it is better to put millstone around person’s neck and to be thrown into the abyss than to offend the little ones. I don’t know why some those Catholic priests are Pedophiles, but I had studied many of problems in the Catholic Church and also in Vatican. the Catholic Church was responsible for more than 140 million deaths thoughout the history, such as the Catholic inquistion, catholic church supported German Nazis and so on. It is said that Catholic Church had demanded celibacy on catholic priests, this means catholic priests to marry are forbidden. The Demon of the Pride of Chastity to take place in the Catholic Church, It is clear that the Bible had said It is the Doctrine of the Devil to forbid Marriage. To point out that many doctrines of the Catholic Church are not from God, but it is from the Devil.

  7. patricia says:

    I dont mean Celibacy is evil , I myself is a celibate single person,and I had been celibate for 34 years.

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