BLACK-COLLAR CRIMES: I don’t have a lot to say about the hideous abuser-priest scandals. If you read Rod Dreher’s posts to The Corner, you’ve got more or less my take on it. Many people have implied that celibacy is the problem here, which is strange (let’s recap: the Church has required celibacy of most priests for centuries; monks are also celibate, as are Eastern Orthodox monks and bishops–where are their victims?; saying celibacy is the problem implies that men who can’t get laid prey on male teens, which is just gross and bizarre; men don’t explode, or turn to child abuse, when they’re told not to have sex). Instead, it seems to me that three circumstances have combined to make the priesthood a haven for abusers: Priests are put in mentoring relationships with young people; they’re trusted, and until now, they’ve been protected by a thick wall of silence; and their vocation, especially regarding the Church’s beliefs about sexuality, has come under attack from within and without in the past several decades. The first part of this equation shouldn’t be changed; the silence and lies of the hierarchy should. Many Church leaders’ unwillingness to advocate, explain, and defend celibacy (they can start with a few words from Jesus Christ), and their unwillingness to make a firm commitment to and understanding of celibacy essential in seminary formation, must also change.

And I hope to God that that’s the last I’ll ever have to write about this.

As for the question, “How can I remain in such a corrupt Church?”, this is a good answer. A study of history (the Donatists, Alexander VI, “When the money clinks in the can/The soul leaps from Purgatory,” the Dreyfus Affair) might also help–if you didn’t leave because of all that, you shouldn’t leave now. Be Catholic for the Eucharist; the true teaching and Tradition of the church; the Rock; but don’t be Catholic because you think Catholic priests and bishops never commit deeply evil acts.

About Eve Tushnet

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