You may remember, I am a quasi-theologian currently writing a handbook for progressive Catholics. I've also taught
the Catholic religion for over 10 years. Bart is absolutely right about the priestly pedophelia problem. Here's a rant
(backed up by my research) that defends BC and his opinion...
Bart is right, and before you go getting hot under the (Roman) collar about his comments regarding priestly sexual abuse,
let's make something very clear. There is a reason that there is so much sexual abuse perpetrated by Roman Catholic
priests, and until the Church goes back to their traditions, it will continue.
That's right...back to tradition. If you ask a Catholic what separates them from any other Christian denomination,
they will say, "We're a church of scripture AND tradition." That tradition is enormous, encompassing elements from
the first century AD to today. The thing that "keeps" people Catholic are the Sacraments and, as Fr. Andrew Greeley
says, "the stories." Catholics like the traditions and the stories. It's the world's oldest "business" (what other
"corporation" has been around 2,000 years?).
Unfortunately, the Church's history of what they call "tradition" is inconsistent at best, and outright fraud at its worst.
And thanks to the current, obscenely conservative, misogynistic and homophobic papacy, the Vatican is starting to
mirror the GOP--either buy into "the program" completely or you're not welcome.
Let's talk about the "tradition" of the male priesthood. How far back does it go? Many people believe that it dates back
to the original Apostles--they were men, Christ was a man, ergo the priests have always been--and should always be--men.
Wrong. That tradition is in complete contradiction to the Ancient Church, the one founded by the Jesus and his disciples. Jesus was about radical inclusiveness, and many of the early priests were women. There is too much evidence out there to dismiss this fact. One need only read the work of John Dominic Crossan, or visit the PBS website, "From Jesus to Christ"
as a starting point. So, if we want to really get back to the traditional roots of the Church, let's start ordaining women.
How about the myth of priestly celibacy. First of all, priestly celibacy only dates back to the 12th century. Up until that point, there were indeed married priests. Still, traditionalists balk: "But Jesus was celibate, the Apostles were celibate, and priests should be celibate." Wrong again. Most of the Disciples were married...Peter among them. What about Jesus himself?
Could he have been married?
I hope you're sitting down for this one...More likely than not, Jesus was married. In Jewish Antiquity, it was extremely
unusual (in some cases even unlawful) for a "teaching rabbi" to be unmarried. In fact, it was so unusual that it would no
doubt have been mentioned somewhere in the Gospels. Nowhere in the Gospels does it say that Jesus was unmarried.
Look up "The Gospel of Philip" (one of the Gnostic texts conveniently left out of the canon by the church) to learn about
"the beloved disciple" (Mary Magdalene). Was Jesus married to Magdalene? Probably. If you're not convinced,
check out "The Woman with the Alabaster Jar," "Holy Blood, Holy Grail," "The Gospel of the Beloved Disciple."
All best sellers, all done by scholars, all proving that Jesus was most likely married to Magdalene.
So, why does the Church continue to perpetuate the myth of priestly celibacy? Because the priesthood is a club--a very exclusive club that draws from such a narrow pool of candidates that it continues to perpetuate itself. A priest I know
recently wrote an editorial commenting on how the "new seminarian" is in his mid-thirties, very conservative, entering the priesthood as a second career. They are also theocratic and autocratic (in what other "business" can you become the
CEO after a three-year stint as an assistant?). Finally, many of the new seminarians have "sexual issues" that they
believe will "disappear" once they become a priest.
The seminarian believes "once I become a priest, these urges (normal heterosexual, normal homosexual, or deviant)
will disappear. The opposite occurs--these "urges" fester like a sore, growing until they explode. The sexually "normal"
priest may take a lover, male or female, and live a quiet life as a normal sexual being. The sexually deviant priest will
prey on his most vulnerable parishioners--children.
So, by perpetuating a myth of tradition (the male, celibate priesthood) the Church continues to fill priestly vocations with
men unfit for any kind of leadership work. These men are given full-reign of their "corporations" (parishes). Absolute
power corrupts absolutely, and the priest who can command obedience in peoples' beliefs begins to think he can
command silence from the victims of his sexual perversions.
So, to cure the problem of priestly sexual abuse, let's "open up" the pool of candidates for the priesthood to include women, married men, and openly practicing gay men and women. Until the Church begins to see men and women as sexual beings
and respecting normal sexual relationships (both straight or gay), it will continue to attract and harbor sexual predators.