Can the Catholic Church Recover?
By A Lidden Pate
I do not have a conclusive, all-knowing answer. But the question must be asked: Are pedophilia and homosexuality so deeply entrenched sexual practices within the Catholic Church that they have become institutionalized and, in the process, also hidden and protected as thought necessary by the controlling authorities?
The answer now seems clear. Yes!
Which does not mean that every priest engages in sexual malpractice. But it does mean that all have either condoned or accepted its institutionalization, as have many of the laity in the know.
This terribly embarrassing and most disturbing set of resulting circumstances didn’t come about overnight. The entrenchment took place over decades, perhaps centuries. And given the variety of human sexual practices most everywhere, past and present, it seems logical to conclude that homosexually and pedophilia have likely been around in some form since the earliest days of the priesthood.
Now exposed, the Catholic Church is faced with a choice: Do very little other than try to control the damage with new rules designed to avoid the commission of sexual crimes, particularly those that do serious harm to the maturation of children OR the Church can do a radical purging of the practices.
I am a Protestant minister. Decisions on these matters are not mine to make. And I ought not, and do not make recommendations without confessing the sins of non-Catholic clergy. We are neither more innocent nor holier than they.
But it does seem to me there are two steps Catholicism could take, and quickly, that would go a long way to restoring its spiritual health and a good public reputation.
The first: allow priests to marry; and
The second: allow women to become priests.
Neither step would entirely purge sexual sins from the priesthood. Men and women of all vocations are too sexually vulnerable. But both steps should help considerably in eradicating the “cover” that has mostly hidden the grievous sexual abuses that have taken place for too long and too frequently within the Catholic Church.
Also, the implementation of these steps would demonstrate, I believe, how truly “of God” the Church is, that it is still fully capable of preaching and practicing the confession, atonement and reconciliation that lie at the heart of the Christian Good News.
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