Is this scandal amid us - looming over our church - really growing and as devastating as the media makes it out to be? First let me say that I am not trying to make light of this problem, but is it really as bad as the media wants us to believe? I don't think so.
Let's take a closer look...
Yes, there are priests who are guilty of sexual misconduct, and yes, some officials of our church have not handled things the way they should have done so. Guess what? They, like you and me, are human and they make mistakes… and they, like you and me, are sinners. But, when it comes down to it most of our priests take their vows very seriously and do a remarkable job leading and guiding us in Christ's Church.
As usual, the media has blown this way out of proportion. Now I hear some priests are uncomfortable wearing their collars in public. Sad, it truly is. And no, I am not making light of the situation - we do have a serious problem and there definitely needs to be change. The church has handled this situation more like a sin than a crime and those who are guilty do indeed need to pay for their crimes.
Would letting our priests marry help solve this problem? Are these priests drawn to pedophilia and molestation because they aren't allowed to marry and have taken a vow of celibacy? No, I don't think so. We must understand that abuse is not about sex; it is about power and control. Many of those who commit these types of crimes (whether they be priests, other ministers, teachers, or our neighbors) were victims of such abuse themselves. For some who have not been healed from their own pain and past the result is ultimately they themselves end up committing these horrible acts (the very acts that were committed on them years earlier) on others. Is this an excuse for such behavior? Of course not! It's simply an explanation to help understand the problem. Priesthood and/or celibacy did not cause these men to become abusers. Pedophiles are drawn to careers and livelihoods where they are in contact with children and, actually, research shows that most pedophiles are married. In reality, only about .3% of this current crisis in the church involves pedophilia. Most all cases involve adolescent boys and therefore are not true pedophilia, but instead more of a homosexual issue. Most of these cases also go back 20-30 years.
Those priests who are allegedly guilty, however, make up only around 2% of our priests. Yes, it's 2% too much, but that means 98% of our clergy is not guilty. I just returned from a parish retreat and we were asked, "When you get a 98 on a test, what grade do you receive?" This really puts things into perspective. Plus, we also must remember all are innocent until proven guilty, and chances are some, if not many, have been or will be falsely accused. There have always been problems within the church from the beginning of time. Why? Because the church is made up of people and we are all human - sinners - and we make mistakes. This is a sad and unfortunate situation for our church, but I truly believe she will prevail - stronger than ever. How can I be so sure? Because Jesus has kept His promise. He has and continues to protect and preserve our - HIS - church. And He will until the end of time.
Peace in Christ,