Yesterday, the Pope Benedict XVI issued an apology for the sexual abuse of children by the Australian Roman Catholic Clergy, at World Youth Day in Sydney.
This was especially prudent, considering Cardinal George Pell’s alleged coverup of an assault complaint against a former Catholic teacher, Father Terence Goodall.
Pell’s response, where he stated that his letter was ‘badly worded’ and that the he believed that the sexual act was consensual, only digs him in further. Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t the rules say that clergymen cannot consent to any sexual act?
I will say that the Pope’s statement was a positive first step, as it brought some much needed relief to victims for the pain and suffering they have experienced, and undid some of the hurt caused by Pell’s actions.
This is not however, a conclusive resolution. In my opinion, that would require the following:
- The open threat of excommunication for clergy that perpetrate sexual abuse against children under their care or teaching.
A deterrent requires something with bite – not just a few hail Marys and a transfer to the parish around the corner, so that they can perpeptrate their behaviour elsewhere.
- Removing the requirement for clergy to adopt a celibate lifestyle.
The requirement for clergy to adopt a celibate lifestyle and the need to interact closely with young children is by definition going to result in the natural selection of sexually frustrated individuals who get their fix by preying on those who they have power over. In our modern society, I do not see any reason why someone cannot have normal human interactions and remain pious.
Disclaimer: I am neither Catholic, nor religious