There seems to have developed a dedication by some people to labeling persons who sexually abuse children or adults as "sexual predators." While this labeling is thought by some to weigh down such people with a label that will forever keep them from integrating back into society, others almost take delight in attaching the word "predator" to them forever. That also means in some states that you are tracked for the rest of your life, limiting where you may live and making sure that your past abuse is forever known to as many people as possible. This blog post is not about how this abuse should be enforced.
AT LONG LAST the sex abuse and pedophilia so rampant in the Roman Catholic Church for many years has been brought to light. While we pussy-footed around this widespread abuse for generations, thousands and thousands of children were terribly abused sexually by priests. The Roman Catholic Church turned a blind eye to the abuse. Priests who committed these crimes were too often simply moved to a different parish or diocese. Yes, bishops and archbishops knew of the abuse. Yes, they treated this abuse very differently when perpetrated by priests than done by other members of society.
While pedophilia in the Church was known for generations, it was finally brought to light in the United States. To charge that the Church was reluctant to deal with it, even after confronted, is an understatement. It is now known to have occured worldwide in the Catholic Church. While selected diocese in the Church have been forced to deal with pedophilia directly because of civil intervention, the Vatican has been the most reluctant of all the Church segments to be honest about the extent and horror of pedophilia. In short, even society has been very different in the way it treats pedophilia in and out of the Church. Priests, like Father Murphy in Milwaukee, continued his abuse of deaf children for years, and finally the archdiocese appealed to the Vatican to put him on trial and possibly be defrocked. The Vatican did not respond with anything that could be called "properly."
Who else in society would receive that sort of treatment, even if found guilty? What trade or profession would allow a man to escape jail when found guilty of pedophilia? Which vocation other than the priesthood would be allowed to live out a guilty life quietly in a monastery or some other safe place?
Documents now indicate the the current Pope, when serving as archbishop in Munich and later on the staff of the Vatican in Rome, ignored appeals to confront priests who abused children. This is a serious charge. Frankly, if what is charged of Pope Benedict is true, how can he serve as a moral leader to millions of the faithful?
Finally, why do we use the term "sexual predator" only OUTSIDE of the priesthood? Aren't these priests just as much sexual predators if that term is to be used at all?
It is time for the Roman Catholic Church to come clean about pedophilia. Long sorrowful papers by the Pope and others is insufficient in the face of the multitude of charges worldwide. We owe the children who were abused by these priests much, much more than what is currently happening via the silence in the Vatican. Perhaps the entire heirarchy and bureaucracy of the Roman Catholic Church could use some widespread cleansing.