November 30, 2005

A church confused over sexual issues

Boston Globe

By Bernadette J. Brooten | November 30, 2005

IF THE VATICAN aims to prevent clergy sexual abuse by barring gay men from the priesthood, it is profoundly misguided. Most strikingly, the latest Vatican statement doesn't ever name clergy sexual abuse as a problem. Instead, the Vatican refers ever so obliquely to the ''contemporary world," which must mean ''a world in which even priests have sex with boys."

The Vatican needs to address head-on the dual problem of priests abusing their power and their bishops protecting them. Otherwise, Catholics and non-Catholics will live with shaken confidence in the Roman Catholic Church, an important social institution by any measure. This document diverts attention away from Catholic bishops who have worked mightily to avoid just settlements with sexual abuse survivors, to open their financial records, or to include clergy as mandated reporters of child sexual abuse.

By defining homosexuality as the problem, the Vatican also masks the fact that numerous priests have had, and are having, sexual relations with adult women. Unlike therapists or physicians, priests are not usually legally prohibited from having sexual relations with the women whom they counsel. Women whose trust priests have betrayed have rarely been able to sue for damages, and the media have therefore seldom reported their stories.

Posted by kshaw at November 30, 2005 08:04 AM