The Roman Catholic Church has published guidelines calling for future priests to have psychological tests to vet for those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies." The document, approved by Pope Benedict XVI, was made public last week. Jolted by a series of sex scandals during the last decade involving pedophile priests, the Catholic Church has faced numerous lawsuits that have cost hundreds of millions of dollars in settlements.
SECRECY AND UNCHECKED POWER
Gay rights groups have accused the Church of using homosexuals as scapegoats for abuse scandals. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said in a statement:
"Catholic officials continue to fixate on the offenders and ignore the larger problem --The Church's virtually unchanged culture of secrecy and unchecked power in the hierarchy," as reported by the BBC. "These broader factors are deeply rooted in the Church and contribute heavily to extensive and ongoing clergy sex abuse and cover up."
I agree wholeheartedly with the statement by SNAP and with comments by David Gibson, in his Belief net blog Pontifications. In "Vatican embraces Freud: Anything for a gay-free priesthood!" Gibson commented:
"This won't be welcome news for ideologues -- nor, sadly, for gay men either considering the priesthood or already ordained. Alas, that's nothing new. The Vatican did indicate this document (13 years in the making!) was a response to the sexual abuse crisis, which could be fodder for unfortunate conclusions about homosexuals."
TIMELY, RELEVANT AND ETHICAL?
Does taking 13 years to revise guidelines indicate the church's recognition of the need for speedy action? Excuse my cynicism. But when children are being abused, quicker action is surely required, besides their "don't talk anymore and we'll pay you" settlements.
How can the Catholic Church continue to remain so far behind the times? (I know I'm not the first to ask that one!) Here they have a disastrous problem and they aren't even aware of the research involving rapists and pedophiles. Or, they simply refuse to acknowledge it. For some reason, it's more important to the Church that the public believes they want to rid the priesthood of homosexuals. Oh, puleez!
Research shows that rapists have a normal sex drive and exhibit "normal" types of behavior. So, do you think the psychology tests for those entering the seminary means that Church will throw out all those who test "normal" and keep the homosexuals?
And don't forget that the major motive for rape is aggression, NOT sex. Gratification comes from gaining power and control and discharging anger (not hard to do with children). This makes me wonder if the psych tests for priests shouldn't be given AFTER seminary is completed and given to priests who've been within the church hierarchy for awhile -- and have become angry because of the power and control issues within the church.
How about some facts on priest pedophiles (who to my mind are "rapists"). From an article in the national Catholic weekly "American Magazine," I paraphrase, in part:
- A pedophile is normally NOT a homosexual;
- Clinical evaluation of pedophiles reveals them to be a diverse group, which differs educationally, vocationally, religiously and socioeconomically;
- Power and control are critical factors;
- The sexual acting out results in more pleasant emotional states, putting a psychological distance between the perpetrator's feelings of loneliness, emptiness, despair and lack of connectedness to others ...(Could these emotional descriptives be a definition of priesthood for some?)
What do you suppose the Catholic Church will come out with in another 13 years? Something as untimely and irrelevant?