Monday, 22 March 2010

Wrong Cause Wrong Suggestion

It struck me this evening that a priest or a minister in enacting 'love' can be very hands on for those who want it. A marriage or other partner of one can watch as affections are displayed that no other profession would show, and the marriage partner to some extent shares these affections with many other people. He or she will get the same, and considerably more, but still it might be something to live with. Clever ministers and priests reading the signs know who to hug and who not, like no one would with me as I never do with others.

Then there are ministers or priests who can't or won't indulge in hugs even with the huggable. They have that sense of personal space and it is crossed with others than the partner at more private times of stress. Only the partner will be seen getting public displays of affection, and the partner gets the considerably more too.

One wonders about the frustrated Roman Catholic priest forced into celibacy in order to have an ordained ministry. He is able to hug others, but only to hug others, as no one looks on who will provide the further emotional and sexual contact, or even release. The job becomes a lot of giving, but rarely any equal level of receiving and certainly the need to be 'other' frustrates the emotional bonds further. On top of that you get the few women who can latch on to a 'safe' person for their emotional fantasy world, that will in effect be pushing at the prickable wall around the celibate priest.

The loneliness of the evening and the bed just goes on and on, surrounded by all this exchange that goes nowhere, and no wonder then that secret ways to have a sexual relationship take place. There is the housekeeper, the woman outside the congregation, the secret affair, and the not so secret affair.

We cannot either avoid the fact that the priest in ritualistic display dresses a bit oddly and is perhaps 'feminised' in all this activity. Does this attract particular personality types, who feel fulfilled in such display, and who yet have displaced emotions?

In the world of the secret corners and the illicit comes the Church institutions like the choir, the meetings in the manse, the confessional, the clericalism and authority, and the actual rules of behaviour rather than the published rules.

Not a surprise then that the weakest and most vulnerable might be preyed up by an individual who is forced to be emotionally frustrated: who received and gets little guidance and support for trying to be celibate. Some, of course, end up drenched in alcohol and no further, but others have found children and told them to be quiet.

The Pope's Pastoral letter to Irish Roman Catholics skirts around all this, with the one exception regarding formation in seminaries. He simply cannot or will not accept that celibacy is a frustration to the frustrated that leads on to the illicit. Instead, the letter promotes his own agenda and in two main ways.

First it makes a distinction between clergy as the Church and the lay faithful: you, their parents. I urge you to play your part in ensuring the best possible care of children, both at home and in society as a whole, while the Church, for her part, continues to implement the measures adopted in recent years to protect young people in parish and school environments.


The lay faithful, too, should be encouraged to play their proper part in the life of the Church. See that they are formed in such a way that they can offer an articulate and convincing account of the Gospel in the midst of modern society (cf.
1 Pet 3:15) and cooperate more fully in the Church’s life and mission.

The Church - and here there seems to be only one "Church in Ireland" - is this institution that is the one and only cradle of finding Christ as a necessity. So the institutionalism goes on, that which surrounds the emotionally diverted priest who goes on to interfere with children and tells them to be as quiet and private as his institution's communication.

The second part is that instead of blaming the combination of institution, actual 'rules' of operation and communication, and the effects of forced celibacy, he gets on his own hobby horse regarding the Second Vatican Council in the context of secularisation:

The programme of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted and indeed, in the light of the profound social changes that were taking place, it was far from easy to know how best to implement it. In particular, there was a well-intentioned but misguided tendency to avoid penal approaches to canonically irregular situations. It is in this overall context that we must try to understand the disturbing problem of child sexual abuse...

This is precisely NOT the context in which to understand child sexual abuse. It is secularisation that has helped break down the institutional walls of secrecy and deference. Let's be clear too, that this paedophile activity is not something that is recent. It has gone on and on. What is different is that it has become exposed, and look how now it is 'emerging' into the light in the rest of Europe.

The suggestion in the letter of a year of reflection, and then it's back to business, is pathetic. Fortunately, Ireland is a renewing place at present, and the Church represents that old, repressive atmosphere of the 1950s and before, where abuse (from cold neglect all the way to sexual invasion) was part of the covered up scene. In this sense, the Roman Catholic church has had it, and will just have to adapt to being a husk of its former self, in a corner, while the state secularises and cleans up its own institutional attitudes that have themselves been part of the institutional bureaucracy of secrecy and double standards.

Perhaps when the Pope visits Britain people should stay indoors. It's like, don't just go to wave back because you fancy a photograph!

Presumably on that visit he will go some way towards welcoming some married and voluntary celibate Anglican priests into his new bypass-the-locals ordinariate, all with the 'right opinions' about the Church, as part of the 'smaller but purer' Church he seeks, and one that will have to make up the shortfall in ordinands because of the social pariah status that has come to the Roman Catholic Church.


Brother David said...

And then you have the response of this ass at Viagraville;

Statistics show that a disproportionate number of the abusers were homosexuals. Thus I suggest that the homosexual community should be held to account as well. What is the community doing to educate their members about what is appropriate, and about what to do and who to go to if they are tempted to behave in this appalling way?

I cannot even begin to form an answer to this lunacy. But let's blame the community that was not yet a community through most of this insanity, until recent times, and in many ways is still in its adolescent formation.

Rick+ said...

I am not a psychologist, but in discussing this abuse with a friend who is one she stated that pedophilia is not gender-specific, but rather an attraction to the prepubescent body type. As such, it is often a crime of opportunity, and young males were available. I don't think, however, this explains such behavior with teenagers.

June Butler said...

Adrian, I agree with all you've said. I'm quoting myself, but I'm too tired at the moment to start from scratch and write something original.

I've thought much about the reasons for the abuse and cover-up, and, although I'm no expert, I'm convinced that forced celibacy as a condition for ordination in the RCC is the source of at least some of the abusive behavior. Perhaps men predisposed to be child-abusers made their way through the ordination screening process, but it seems to me that being taught to live one's life in denial of one's own sexuality, whether oriented to straight, or gay, or somewhere in between, could, in some instances, lead to aberrant behavior of several varieties, including abuse of children, even if one was not originally predisposed to such behavior. A godly call to celibacy is one thing, but forced celibacy is a whole other matter.