How apt it is that numerous groups plan to protest when Pope Benedict arrives tomorrow for a visit to Jolly Olde England.
In recent days, news squibs have crawled across the bottom of my screen on various all-news channels reporting first that Belgian authorities are currently dealing with more than 300 cases of alleged child sexual abuse at the hands of Roman Catholic priests and second that Pope Benedict has stated that he “feels the victims’ pain.”
It is only the latest in a string of instances over the past couple of years when the pope has had to “feel the pain” of victims of clerical child abuse suffered just about all over the world. In fact, he must be feeling the pain of so many people right now that one might think he is carrying the weight of the whole world on his shoulders.
A week rarely passes when there aren’t new allegations of widespread clerical child sexual abuse somewhere in the world. Not all of it at the hands of Catholic clerics, but a very large portion of it.
And it is not a startling new phenomenon that Catholic clergy – and clergy from almost every religious sect or cult – are sexually abusing children.
But it is the very policies of the Catholic Church that promote priestly pedophilia: specifically, the vow of celibacy and the draconian refusal to ordain women as priests.
Like too many other professionals who work with children (e.g. – teachers, social workers, etc.), many candidates are attracted to the priesthood because it places them in a position of authority over vulnerable children.
But unlike most of those other pedophile professionals, candidates for the Roman Catholic priesthood are also given something even more valuable than mere authority over vulnerable children: a cloak of secrecy and a “rational” purpose in being seen to not engage in normal adult relationships.
Individually, each of these three factors would attract actual or potential child abusers – whether sexual, physical or emotional. But when mixed they form an explosive cocktail.
So if Pope Benedict really “feels the pain” of the multitudes of victims, we can all expect he will quickly redress the situation by ordaining women as priests and higher levels of clergy, abolishing the so-called “vow of celibacy,” and allowing all clerical personnel – of both genders – to marry anyone they wish – of either gender.
Anything less would make the pain he “feels” rather disingenuous.