Friday, November 27, 2009

The problem may just be power

After three years, the Murphy Report, a study of pedophilia and its intense, over-three-decade coverup in and by the Archdiocese of Dublin has been released. Conservatives within the Church are sure, whenever they mention it—this is usually not often—to blame it on homosexuality within the priesthood and the liberalization of the Church after Vatican II.
Beside the fact that this ignores that many of the guilty were ordained long before the reforms of the Council took effect in the late 60s and that almost none of the men would have identified themselves as gay or homosexual and probably still don't it ignores the very real problem of power.
(For what it's worth, pedophilia is a problem across society, including in public schools, in religious organizations of all stripes, etc. And, in those cases where the victims are boys, the men almost always identify as heterosexual. This is why, pace the Pope's directives, expelling those who realize that they are gay from the seminaries will do nothing to prevent molestation; it's not the openly gay men you have to worry about.)
But back to power, because the problem of pedophilia isn't unique to the Church, but the response has been. Many parents of the hundreds of victims went to the Archbishop (four of them, in fact) and his staff and the police and in almost every case, the Church and the Irish state agreed to ignore what was happening. Of course, their reasoning was simply that such accusations might derail the very real work that the Church did and does. But this is exactly reasoning that the ends justify the means, a proposition hated by the Church, but one that is all too easy to accept when the Church has too much temporal and financial power.
Surely, that's not the kind of power Christ came to give. That kind of power almost never sits well with virtue and certainly undercuts any moral authority those wielding it might have laid claim to for other, more spiritual, reasons.

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