“They like to use those fancy words. They don’t like to say “raped,’” he said. “They say “misdeed,’ “inappropriate touching,’ “mistake.’ That’s insulting. I’m not a mistake.” ― Charles L. Bailey Jr., In the Shadow of the Cross
The other day, I was trying to catch up on some reading about the sex scandal in the Pennsylvania Catholic church when I came across this article: Pa. Catholic Church sex abuse report names hundreds of priests, accuses leaders of cover-up: ‘They hid it all.’written by by Jeremy Roebuck, Angela Couloumbis and Liz Navratil for the Inquirer Daily News.
I started to read the article and the following text slapped me upside the head.
Top Roman Catholic leaders in Pennsylvania covered up decades of child sex abuse involving more than 1,000 victims and hundreds of priests, according to a long-awaited grand jury report released Tuesday.
Capping what may be the most comprehensive examination yet of clergy sex abuse across a single state, the nearly 900-page document accuses church officials in six Pennsylvania dioceses of routinely prioritizing their institution over the welfare of children in their care.
The allegations stretch back to the 1940s, detailing child rapes and groping that mirrored the reports that have roiled the church worldwide. But the document includes several uniquely disturbing accounts of its own — including one of a 1970s pedophile and child pornography ring in Pittsburgh among priests who whipped their victims and took photos of one boy as he posed naked as if on the cross.
I am going to focus on the priests in this post, not the victims although my heart goes out to them. I believe this report may help us to understand what is going on the Catholic Church and why we are seeing it in the evangelical church.
Here are the relevant facts according to the article.
- 100s of pedophile priests were found in only 6 Pennsylvania diocese.
- More than 1000 victims (I am betting this number is way too low.)
- This abuse by priests dated as far back as the 1940s.
- A pedophile and child pornography ring was found in Pittsburg which was present in the 1970s.
To what do we attribute this startling number of pedophile priests? Let’s start with what we do know.
Did/does this happen because priests cannot marry?
Absolutely not. I have made this point before and I will keep making it. A normal priest (meaning one who is NOT a pedophile) who wished to violate his celibacy vows, would choose another adult of consenting age with whom to have sex. A normal priests doesn’t say “That’s it. I don’t care what I vowed, I’m going have sex with a 5 year old boy.”
We also know that married individuals are often charged with pedophilia. Here is one statistic. I read about 10 other sources which quoted similar findings.
44 percent of convicted pedophiles either are or have been married,
Did/does this happen because of homosexuality? No.
Bishop Morlino, in a letter to the diocese of Madison. Wisconsin, raised the specter of homosexuality as being the cause. This post at the National Catholic: Reporter Bishop Morlino, others charge ‘homosexual subculture’ for clergy abuse crisis subtitled “A lax following of church teachings on sexuality in the wider culture a recurring theme.”
He pointed to a deeper crisis of acceptance and diminishment of sin, saying “we have refused to call a sin a sin,” and urged the church to resist becoming a refuge for sin, including “deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics.”
“We are talking about acts and actions which are not only in violation of the sacred promises made by some, in short, sacrilege, but also are in violation of the natural moral law for all. To call it anything else would be deceitful and would only ignore the problem further,” Morlino said.
He continued: “There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia — this despite clear evidence to the contrary. It is time to be honest that the problems are both and they are more.”
I believe that churches and religions have the right to determine their response to same sex relations. However, all faiths must be careful not to make the same mistake that I believe Bishop Morlino made in his statement. He appears to claim that there is clear evidence that a homosexual subculture leads to pedophilia. However, that statement is not provable or definitive.
There are a number of studies that would seem to indicate that this is not true. One of those studies is quoted in that article.
The 2011 John Jay College of Criminal Justice study, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, found no correlation between homosexual identity and the sexual abuse of minors, or that homosexual priests were more likely to abuse minors than heterosexual priests — findings consistent with other studies. Likewise, it found the period of decline in incidents of priestly sexual abuse aligned with the timeframe when large numbers of gay men entered seminaries, beginning in the late 1970s and through the ’80s.
Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison, Wisconsin, March 25. (CNS/Courtesy of Jason Studnicka)
The study also said it was inaccurate to refer to abusers as “pedophile priests,” given that less than 5 percent of alleged abusive priests displayed behavior consistent with pedophilia, and the majority of victims examined in the report were pubescent or postpubescent minors.
My heart goes out to Catholic leaders like Bishop Morlino who desperately want to find a cause for this crisis. However, blaming this on homosexuality will lead to further disappointment when efforts to get rid of homosexuals in the priesthood result in little, if any, change in the numbers of abuse victims.
So, where is the root of the problem?
The Catholic Church has become a haven for pedophiles due to a misunderstanding of what pedophilia is and is not.
I am going to present what I believe has happened in the Catholic Church and why I believe the evangelical church is inadvertently following the same path.
When my daughter was 20 months old, she was somewhat precocious. One day, she suddenly discovered that the green light in stoplights means *go* and the red light means *stop.* She decided it was important to educate the population at large about this phenomenon. She announced this profound discovery to a group of people in an elevator. She then went on to tell this to every stranger in her path. To this day, we still laugh and say “Green means go.”
And that is what I believe happened in the Catholic Church and is happening in the evangelical church. We have hung out lights that are permanently stuck on the color green.
One night I couldn’t sleep and I actually reviewed the numbers from the Inquirer. Here is my conclusion.
Mistake: Pedophilia is just a sin like any other sin.
Wouldn’t it be nice if this was so. It isn’t. Yes, a pedophile can seek forgiveness and will receive that forgiveness is he/she is truly repentant. But that is not the end of the story. This is what tripped up the Catholic Church and what is causing havoc in the evangelical church.
Truth: Pedophilia is a crime and a profound psychiatric disorder.
I am going to make my life a lot easier and quote directly from Wikipedia which well spells out that this is a psychiatric problem
Pedophilia is termed pedophilic disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), and the manual defines it as a paraphilia involving intense and recurrent sexual urges towards and fantasies about prepubescent children that have either been acted upon or which cause the person with the attraction distress or interpersonal difficulty. The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) defines it as a “sustained, focused, and intense pattern of sexual arousal—as manifested by persistent sexual thoughts, fantasies, urges, or behaviours—involving pre-pubertal children.”
The NIH classifies it as a paraphilia. Sadly, as of now, there is no cure for pedophilia. It is important to understand that the pedophile can be given treatment that can help them to fight reoffending but there is no permanent cure.
There’s no magic cure that can make the sexual attraction to children go away, and up to 50 percent of convicted pedophiles re-offend. But like drug addiction, gambling addiction, and other destructive obsessions, pedophilia can be successfully treated, if pedophiles are motivated to stop their behavior. The most common treatment for pedophiles is “relapse prevention,” a lifelong therapy similar to alcoholism treatment that conditions them to live with their obsession but not act on it. Some clinics offer aversive conditioning, or “shame therapy,” which forces pedophiles to associate their urges with something painful or unpleasant, such as an electric shock. There are also drugs that can suppress a pedophile’s sex drive. With the right combination of drugs and therapy, pedophiles can learn to resist their urges, said Dr. Fred Berlin, founder of the Johns Hopkins Sexual Disorders Clinic. “We’re not going to be able to put out the fire,” he said, “but we can do a nice job of containing [it].”
Christians, both Catholic and Protestant, often believe that confession and repentance will lead to Jesus miraculously curing pedophiles.This is a dangerous assumption. The truly repentant pedophile will be forgiven but will struggle with their disorder for a life time.
So, what happened? Why are there so many pedophiles in the Catholic Church? Here is my theory.
There are three groups of pedophiles to keep in mind.
- This group of pedophiles wants to repent, do so and receive in-depth psychiatric help to keep their urges under control. This is small group, in my opinion.
- This group of pedophiles wants to repent, do so, and unfortunately fail in their efforts to stop abusing. This is a much larger group in my opinion.
- Some pedophiles have no intention of stopping their behavior. If caught, they pretend to repent in order to gain further access to children. I believe this group is much larger than we can imagine.
Now, go back to these two statement in the Inquirer.
- including one of a 1970s pedophile and child pornography ring in Pittsburgh among priests
- The allegations stretch back to the 1940s,
So, let’s imagine what might have happened.
- In the 1940s, the first pedophiles were found in the Catholic Church in Pittsburgh. Little was understood about this disorder. These men were allowed to repent by those in the hierarchy and were returned to the priesthood. They continued to offend. They continued to be forgiven and they were sent to other parishes.
- Slowly the word got out to pedophiles. The Catholic Church is the place for you. You get access to children, you get paid and you get community respect because you wear the collar.
- The church unwittingly became pedophile central. Pedophiles came, survived the complaints and began moving up the hierarchical ladder.
- Note that there was an established pedophile and child pornography ring by 1970. This was in place 30 years after the first complaints were discovered.
- If there was a pedophile ring within the priesthood in the Philadelphia area by 1970, I am guessing that there were pedophile rings in all of the dioceses in the US by this time.
- If established pedophiles were moving into position of greater power, I believe that they could have assisted international churches/dioceses to help other pedophiles throughout the world. Here is a list of sex abuse reports in the church by country.
- There is little reason not to suspect that even the highest officials of the Catholic Church may be pedophiles as well.
- Imagine if a pedophile priest attempted to live a celibate life surrounded by pedophiles who had no intention of doing so? Why would he even attempt to resist in that environment?
- As pedophile priests climbed the hierarchical ladder, they were in a position to threaten priests who might attempt to report the behavior. Does it go all the way to the Pope?
Does the pedophilia problem go all the way to the Pope?
The Weekly Standard recently published a disturbing post The Catholic Church Is Breaking Apart. Here’s Why. In this article, a high ranking archbishop attempted to get Pope Francis to act on credible accusations of abuse by one the Pope’s friends.
Then there are the allegations: On August 25, 2018, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published a letter in which he claimed that he had been party to several attempts to make the Vatican aware of McCarrick’s abuses over the years; that he had personally discussed them with Wuerl; and that Pope Francis—knowing full well all of the above—rescinded the house-arrest order of his predecessor, made McCarrick his “trusted counselor,” and, at McCarrick’s behest, began elevating certain bishops—such as Blase Cupich and Joseph William Tobin—to positions of power in the American church.
How did the Pope respond? Just like some evangelical hyper-authoritarian pastors who fuss about divisions and claim Satan is behind all of it. The Pope’s bishops were just fine in his opinion. Given my thinking, I would have to say that Pope himself must be suspect or he is ill-informed and simply trying to protect the “reputation of the church.” Apparently Jesus is unable to do that without the help of the Pope or his bishops.
In the weeks after the Viganò letter was published, Francis preached a homily in which he declared, “with people lacking good will, with people who only seek scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction” the best response is “silence” and “prayer.” If this sounds like Francis believes the real villains in this mess are Archbishop Viganò and people who want to know what the bishops knew, and when they knew it, well, yes.
In another homily on September 11, Francis went further, saying that not only was Viganò the real villain, but the bishops were the real victims: They were being persecuted by the devil: “In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops,” Francis preached. And Satan “tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people.” (The Father of Lies—as he is referred to in the Bible—has not traditionally been regarded as the revealer of sins in Catholic thought, but this pope has never been known for having a supple mind.) Francis then offered counsel for his poor, suffering brother bishops: “The Great Accuser, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse.’ A bishop’s strength against the Great Accuser is prayer.”
What is the problem that evangelical face?
As TWW and other abuse advocate document story after story of missteps on the part of evangelical churches, we have become more concerned that these churches are sending out “Pedophile Are Welcome Here” vibes.
The Village Church’ quickly proclaimed the restoration of Jordan Root who used child pornography.
The Village Church claimed that Jordan Root, Karen HInckley’s child porn loving, former husband, was *walking in repentance* while she, who exposed his past and current activities, was subject to church discipline. You can read about the story here. This is like putting a big green light on the front door of TVC. It appears to say that pedophiles/child porn users will be able to successfully play a game of repentance. It also demonstrates a profound lack of understanding. Pedophilia is not just a sin requiring repentance but s a serious psychiatric disorder. I believe that this response put TVC at a high risk of pedophiles seeking out the church.
The Sovereign Grace scandal involved accusations of church hierarchy which covered up child sex abuse claims.
This is the best overview of the problems inherent in the SGM system. The Sex-Abuse Scandal That Devastated a Suburban Megachurch: Inside the rise and fall of Sovereign Grace Ministries.There was a plethora of complaints that CJ Mahaney and his BFF leaders covered up reports of sex abuse. The pedophiles in the area watched the alleged lack of leadership response to abuse concerns. Could it be that SGM unwittingly put a green light in the church windows? Could it be that their alleged lack of action led to greater problems with abuse in the church?
SBC pastor Chuck Hooten gushes over his pastor friend who was convicted for child porn offenses.
TWW posted PCA Worship Leader Sentenced to Prison for Child and Adult Porn. SBC Worship Leader, Chuck Hooten, Along With Friends, Go to Court to Support the Predator, Not the Victims. Hooten demonstrated a disturbing lack of understanding on what was at stake here. His friend has a serious psychiatric problem. Yet, according to Hooten, all is well since his buddy repented. Hooten was sending out a signal that pedophiles and child porn addicts would be safe at his church. All they have to do is repent and look sorry and Hooten, who has not done his homework, will believe all is well.Time for group hugs.
I could list case after case but I think my point is made.
To recap: By *forgiving* the repentant pedophile and pretending all is well, the church is putting their people in danger. Jesus told us to be wise as serpents. It is time to wake up and understand that pedophilia is a profound psychiatric disorder and it is time for us to take the problem seriously. The Catholic Church did not and they are facing the consequences to their actions from decades ago. The sins of the 1940s are more than evident today in 2018.
It’s time to brush off those red lights and say “It stops here and now.”