Wednesday, March 31, 2010

My thoughts on the current priest scandal.

An informed essay by Andrew Sullivan, perhaps explaining a lot of the mindsets of priests, especially during the 50s and 60s. Part of it is that gay men were never allowed to reach any kind of sexual maturity to begin with since, to be gay, meant going to hell. So...

Now suppose your powers of suppression and attachment to religious authority are also strong - perhaps stronger because you feel so adrift you need something solid to cling onto in your psyche. And you know you cannot marry a woman. But you want to have status and cover as a single man. If this is the 1950s and 1960s, it's into the Church you go. You think it will cure you. In fact, it only makes you sicker because your denial is buttressed by their collective denial. And the whole thing becomes one big and deepening spiral of lies and corruption.
Many of these tormented men have arrested sexual and emotional development. They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. And their sexuality has been frozen at the first real moment of internal terror: their early teens. So they tend to be attracted still to those who are in their own stage of development: teenage boys. And in their new positions, they are given total access to these kids who revere them for their power.
So they use these children to express themselves sexually. They barely see these children as young and vulnerable human beings, incapable of true consent. Because they have never had a real sexual relationship, have never had to deal with the core issue of human equality and dignity in sex, they don't see the children as victims. Like the tortured gay man, Michael Jackson, they see them as friends. They are even gifted at interacting with them in non-sexual ways. One theme you find in many of these stories is that until these screwed up priests' abuse and molestation is revealed, they often have a great reputation as pastors. As emotionally developed as your average fourteen year old wanting to be loved, they sublimate a lot of their lives into clerical service. But they also act out sexually all the time.
The point being that when you take a man, deprive him of any kind of social romantic interaction and sexual maturity, insist that he can NEVER have these things, he panics and thinks the only solution is to enter the priesthood so that he can find solace and healing in the church.

But what they actually encounter, inside, is an even more rigid authoritarian system where sexuality is even more hidden and covered up and not talked about.

Are these people actually pedophiles in the classic way we think of pedophiles? I believe the gay community, which avoids this subject like the plague, too easily labels them as such in order to say, "Well, they're NOT one of us!" Because, indeed, they aren't. The rest of us went on to create actual adult relationships, even though our psycho-sexual adolescence is usually postponed until our 20s, when we can get out of high school and our parents' homes.

The church has, indeed, covered up these sins/crimes. But did they do it because, since so many of them are also closeted homosexuals, hounded into the ministry by the rules of the 50s and 60s? Would these men have possibly otherwise, had the sexual revolution happened for them, never gone into the priesthood in the first place?

I kinda think so.

Sure, we can say that an adult is responsible for his own actions. But it's the closet and the demonization of homosexuality that is most probably at the root cause of most of these "old" molestations to begin with.

Deprive a human being of a natural development, and you end up with someone whose sexuality will come out twisted. As Andrew says, I bet many of these men never really thought of themselves as molesters, nor thought of the young victims as victims. Doesn't change what they did, nor the damage they caused, nor the damage caused by the hierarchy that covered it up, but it's all human nature.

This is what happens when you tell a gay kid that he's going to hell for being gay. He can run (into the priesthood), but he can't hide. Taken as a study in human sexuality, now we know what happens.

1 comment:

NG said...

As I noted elsewhere, if one were to accept Bill Donohue's version of events the sex scandal is "a homosexual crisis", then one has to conclude that Bill is admitting that Catholicism is a mental disorder or disease that causes immorality in people.

Nice makeover with the blog, Steve.