Posted: July 1st, 2015
Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church
The sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church has been facilitated by the unbiblical teachings and weak traditions that is practiced in the church. The paper focuses on these traditions and the teachings that contributed to the increased child sexual abuse in the church. For example, practicing celibacy does not hold the biblical threshold of practicing leadership in the church that makes the priests face sexual challenges. Consequently, the priests turn against their good intentions to abuse the kids entrusted in their hands (Sullivan & Beech, 2004).
Surprisingly, the priests fail to observe the church teachings and use it as a weakness to continue their ill moral activities. They only teach the moral teachings to the young men and women but rarely follow these teachings. Notably, they make the children adore them because they frighten them not to confess the sins they commit to them (Parkinson, 2013). However, the increased confession shows that sexual assault in the Catholic Church is real.
Increased sexual awareness in the church has weakened the belief in celibacy practice and, as a result, the sexual behaviors have increased. Most of the bishops have failed to control their sexual behaviors. Notably, this has motivated them to abuse secretively the young men and women serving in the priesthood. Despite the increased exposure of the immoral behavior in the church, the church officials have remained silent in the public view (Lamberg, 2005). For example, the Vatican church attempt to ex-communicate the abusive priests from service have failed to seize the ill moral values in the church.
The Roman Catholic Church in the recent times was faced with sexual abuse cases that involved their church leaders. According to the norms and the general view of a religious body, the church leaders are expected to lead by an example in enhancing moral uprightness in the society. The Catholic fraternity have built trust on the priests to teach their children the biblical moral teachings. Besides, some of the priests have gone beyond the biblical teachings to abuse the innocent kids. The controversy in the Catholic Church has increased the blame on the Catholic leaders at Vatican.
So far, the Catholic leaders have shown no efforts to eliminate the ill behavior. The Protestant churches have taken the opportunity to continue their fight against the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. According to procrastinated studies done in 2005, the primary cause of the sexual molestation was due to the teachings and traditions of the church. Even If not proven, it is believed that the structure and efforts to restore the church dignity to its initial rank acts as a barrier to successful vice combat (Lamberg, 2005).
Additionally, the continued silence from the church leaders is the primary inculcator of the behavior in the church. The public expects that the ill hearted priests will be punished and casted out of the church. On the contrary, the church have put less effort to cast such leaders out of the church leading to an increase of child molestation. In this regard, the Protestant has provoked the church leaders for condoning such behavior especially in the church leadership (“Child Sex Abuse and the Church – How They Got Away with It”). Also, their silence shows how irresponsible the Vatican leaders are as long as the discipline of the errant priests is concerned. Most likely, the silence motivates the ill motive priests to continue molesting the children entrusted to their hands (McLoone‐Richards, 2012).
The following thesis will focus on the teachings as well as the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. The aim is to define their contribution in sexual assaults among the children pursuing religious studies. It will determine the nature of the teachings and the environmental exposure to these children. Furthermore, the study will focus on teachings on sexual abuse to determine the primary cause of the ill behavior among the priests. Besides, the response of the church leaders to the sexual assault cases will also be examined to determine how it impacts on the priesthood roles. Moreover, the church traditions, teachings, structure and the responses by the church leaders will be evaluated to determine their contribution towards sexual assault in the Roman church. Do the practices uphold moral uprightness or decay in the society?
In the recent times, the Roman Catholic churches were faced with problems of sexual abuse that was practiced by some of their leaders. Still, the church has maintained the culture of transferring the errant priests in other parishes. It has facilitated an increase in the sexual assault of the children in the church. It is believed that there is an element of homosexuality that made it difficult to fight the immoral sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church (McLoone‐Richards, 2012). On the other hand, the church leaders’ silence signified hypocrisy that makes it difficult to combat the behavior.
Some of the teachings of the Catholic Church are not biblical in nature. They advocate on the literal meaning other than the real life application that has led to increased moral decay that exposed the leaders to sexual temptations (Hidalgo, 2007). The increased awareness of unbiblical teachings in the church has increased hypocrisy among the leaders. Notably, this secret behavior has contributed to sexual relation practice in the church leading sexual abuse of the children (Gavrielides & Coker, 2005).
The Catholic Church embraces the practice of celibacy in the priesthood. The act involves sexual abstinence among the brothers and sisters in the church. It teaches that the priests, as well as the nuns, should abstain from sex in their lifetime to facilitate chastity among the priesthood role players in the church. It is meant to retain the original meaning of the unmarried status of the priests as taught by Paul in the Bible. The practice reflects a perfect and perpetual observation of the continence towards the forsaken kingdom. Notably, the ability of the people to maintain celibacy a special gift among the priests that enable them to serve the mankind without division of their interest to serve God (Rossetti, 1996). In their teachings, the church view celibacy as a tool that helps to facilitate the gospel ministry activities to avoiding temptations that were likely to divide their attention while serving the church (“Why a Celibate Priesthood?”).
According to Lamberg, 2005, practicing celibacy is an unbiblical requirement among the Catholic priesthood practice. The keen attention to the practice is based on St. Paul’s teachings in the church of Corinth. It was used to ensure that the church leaders concentrated on service to the Lord and the people. The initial intention of marriage was to create a new generation in the society. Paul in his teachings taught that the leaders had to get married and set a good example of parenthood. But, due to challenges they faced while serving the church, he suggested that priests should practice celibacy to serve the church in a better way. The Catholic Church adopted these biblical teachings though they failed to advocate strict observation as required.
The controversial teachings in the Catholic Church have raised the priests’ curiosity to learn about the teachings. Having learned that the teaching is unbiblical, the priest fears in practicing sexual behavior is motivated. Ultimately, their sexual desires are increased. Moreover, the social structure of the church makes it difficult to satiate their desire. Additionally, the challenges that influenced the priests to violate the celibacy practice forced them priests to practice celibacy. The priests are aware of their sexual interest that involved them in homosexual activities. Since the social structure does not allow male-female interaction, they turn towards the altar boys for sexual satisfaction (Haywood et al, 1996).
According to a report released in the Australian Guardian, celibacy was reflected to be the primary cause of the sexual abuse of the children in the church. The author argues that the Catholic Celibacy teachings forced the priests to abstain from sex against their emotional feelings and free will. It facilitated psychosexual development among the priests motivating the sexual practice. The issue of sexual satisfaction among the priests was objected by the social setting of the Catholic Church as it prohibits the sexual relations of the priests and the nuns (McLaughlin, 2005). This social context, therefore, predisposed the child under the priests’ care to the sexual assaults. Additionally, the celibacy teachings failed to provide an alternative ways to reduce the sexual challenges face by the priests. However, the increased sexual awareness in the modern society has outdone the sexual teachings that the church offers as a mechanism to adhere to celibacy practice (“Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church Rational”). Notably, the overwhelming sexual desire among the priests has led to sexual addiction and more on same-sex relations (Hamilton, 2007).
According to the Australian royal commission, the cases of sexual assaults among the children in the Catholic Church has been brought by poor celibacy practices. The forced celibacy practices among the priest make them feel falsely restricted by the unbiblical teachings. Notably, no investigation that has been done on comments of the sexual matters thus making the practice vague. The celibate priesthood in the modern times has hindered good priesthood compared to the original intent of facilitating ministry. The internal instinct of the sexual matters needs to be embraced by developing better mechanisms that promote sexual abstinence in the church setting. The church leaders had to adopt proper strategies that supported the victims to control their sexual desire. In this regard, the celibate priesthood teachings in modern times contributes to sexual assaults of children that are serving in the priesthood. However, the church has continued to break the social ties lead to the sexual desire among the priests and sometimes they keep silent on these ill moral activities.
The Catholic social setting easily encouraged the existence of homosexual priests. The priesthood setting does not allow sexual interaction between the brothers and the sisters in the learning sessions and practice of the religion. Their interaction makes it difficult for the priests to control the sexual feelings towards their fellow men. For this reason, the homosexual practice have increased among the priesthood involved young men as well as the priests themselves. Notably, the social setting advocate on celibate practice fails to offer means top resolve the sexual interest challenges. Having interacted with another gender at the tender age, the Priesthood young men are challenged to control their sexual desires thus the increased sexual abuse as well as same-gender sexual relations.
The connection between the sexual interest with the celibacy is the awareness in the modern times society. According to Dallam et al, 2001, the sex education in the Catholic also exposed the children to sexual interest. The morphological development among the children also made the children curious about the sexual growth and emotional changes, and the ultimate effect was the experimentation. The continued experimentation inculcated the behavior in the upcoming priests who later continued the homosexual behavior in different parishes. The Australian Guardian suggested that the sexual assaults of the children in the Catholic Church settings was the continued practice of the immoral behavior since their early priesthood age. Rationally the pedophilia was as a result of the continued homosexual activities contributed by the social settings.
Abusing the Trust
The teachings of the Catholic Church advocate for respect of the young towards the priests. These teachings are inculcated in the children when they are young in priesthood. They are expected to obey the leaders as a way of building their faith in the religion. However, the pedophile priests abused the respect shown to them by sexually assaulting the children (Dunne, 2004). In this regard, the kids are threatened and frightened by the errant priest, for example, priest Alexander Bede forcibly abused the boys in his parish by sodomizing them. Observing the directions given out by the priests, the children see the priests as their god and they are supposed to obey all the instructions given to them. Notably to mention the some bishops use this chance to abuse the children disregarding all the trust that they have been given by the children. It has been observed that some leaders use their ability to influence the activities of their parish and authority over the children to force them to be involved in homosexual activities. Conversely, minimal control and high authority among the priests predisposed the children into sexual molestation. However, actions taken by the leaders to curb the immoral behavior have been sabotaged by the limited control and excessive power in their parishes (Dallam et al, 2001).
Inadequate Articulation of Teachings
According to a therapist Lothstein, who used to treat the sexually abused children in Australia, sexual assault in the church was the poor articulation of the seminarian teachings taught by the church. The seminar conducted by the church included children aged 14 who hardly understood the meaning of celibacy studies. In this regard, they continued with their life as normal and engage in practicing sexual activities at their puberty age. Sexual emotions led to sex experimentation among the youths during their adolescent age. The sexual exposure by young teenagers was bound by the celibate rules that the children broke to satisfy their sexual desires (Brown & Asheville, 2013).
The ex- seminarian’s teenagers exposed to the immoral priests found it difficult to adapt to the circumstances in the church. Most likely, the students walked out of the priesthood studies as a result of the sexual abuse during the seminars. The priests who are expected to impart the seminar teachings to the children end up imparting ill morals among youngsters. Surprisingly, the toleration of the behavior by the church leaders make it challenging to fight out the vice. Lack of applying church teachings by the priests and the ex-seminarians have resulted in increased abuse of the children entrusted in their in hands. Additionally, the failure to instill the right virtues and use the best teaching strategies has led to poor application of the teachings in real life (Brown & Asheville, 2013). Moreover, the Catholic Church programs exposed the altar boys and girls to sexual abuse by the priests. For example, the priest took the young boys to retreats where they victimized them.
Secularism in the Catholic Church Teachings
Secularism ideologies in the church teachings also contributed to sexual abuse. In the recent times, the Vatican Catholic Church leaders have embraced secularism to favor the lifestyle in the modern times. Notably, this ideas have weaken the faith of the priests, and it has raised questions in regard to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Surprisingly, seconding the same-sex marriages in United States has amused lower caste church leaders and has led a lot of controversies. The ultimate results were sexual molestation experimentation among the altar boys as well as the abusive priests. Moreover, the weak ideologies in the religion made the priests become overwhelmed by the sexual desires that lead them to sexual abuse of the students undertaking priesthood (“Church Protects Its Own | Betrayed by Silence: Chapter Two”).
The Catholic Church supports alcoholism among the members of the church as suggested by Paul in his gospel. The ideology facilitates abuse of alcohol that lead to poor decision making among the drunk members. For example, if a priest interacts with the young priests when he is drunkard, sometimes he ends up losing control of self and end up in sexual assault. The church respect of rules made the youth to be easily influenced by the ill motives of the priests. In this regard, the approach of secularism in the Catholic Church also contributed to sexual abuse by inculcating bad mind among the priests. The approach to secularism in the Church facilitated the poor ability to control their sex desire (Jenkins, 1995).
Controversial Dealings with Accused Priests
The church has weak punishment strategies to deal with the priests who abused their colleagues sexually. The allegation made against sexual abuse by the priests derived a critic’s approach that failed to develop solutions to the problems in the priesthood practice. Else, the church attempts to develop strategies such as psychiatric treatment to assess the priests have become difficult due to some controversial secularism teachings. The controversial teachings, therefore, led to the increased immoral behavior among the priests (Brown & Asheville, 2013).
In an attempt to resolve these cases, the church leaders usually transfer the errant priests to different churches far from their homes. The strategy led to spread of this behavior to other parishes instead of solving the problems. The relevant authorities in the Catholic churches that deals with such issue take this strategy as a way to cover up the immoral acts in the church. However, Jenkins revealed that sexual abuse problems should be taken seriously and offenders should receive the necessary actions that would help them to change this behavior. The little faith in celibacy among the priests has also contributed to poor emotional management by the priests. It is paramount to note that the celibacy practice has also made the priests continue the sexual abuse towards the children that are the closest to their activities (Jenkins, 1995).
Additionally, the intimate contact between the children and the priest has also contributed to the increased sexual assault. The church had entrusted the children to the priests who fully controlled them. However, the church leaders failed to control the intimacy between the priests thus the sexual assault cases in the church setting (Brown & Asheville, 2013). In this regard, the Catholic Church silence on sexual abuse inculcated the morale to continued sexual satiation among the male priests. The control of secularism such as alcoholism and same-sex marriages in the church is important in reducing the rate of sexual abuse in the church. Controlled interaction among the children and the priest were among the best measures to reduce the increasing children sexual abuse. Since the church has full trust with these leaders in the guiding and teaching the religious values, the church has embraced silent strategies to combat the behavior and reduce the blame from the Protestants (Doyle & Rubino, 2003).
Ineffective Preventive Efforts by the Church
The Catholic Church has failed to develop proper means to detect and prevent sexual abuse. It reflects an incompetent leadership that tolerated the ill-treatment of these children in the society. The implemented strategies failed to eliminate the errant members in the church. In this regard, the canonical laws and procedures were embraced to protect the minors from clergy assaults. Notably, the church failure to offer preventive strategies led to the silence from the church leader on the sexual abuse issue (Plante, 1996). In reality, the church is misleading the young generation by inculcating immoral values of homosexuality, lesbianism, and same-sex marriages. For this reason, the leadership in the church had to develop means that ruled out the abusive clergy leadership from the Catholic Church. Therefore, the Vatican leaders had to initiate ruthless measures to the curb the immoral behavior among the priests. The church has to develop safer rules that regulated the behavior by the priests regarding celibacy and their relevance in meeting the church objective (Rossetti, 1995).
Notably, the church failure to respond to the increasing child sexual abuse made the society remain puzzled about the church’s potential to resolve the moral decay in the church. The ineffective measures inadequately addressed the immoral behavior in the society. According to Kim, Gostin & Cole, 2012, the society has lost faith in the church leadership, especially where the Catholic clergies betrayed the church by abusing the children. It became painful for the parents to the render their children in service to the Catholic Church because of the ill behavior among the church leaders. The rotating the errant priests to other priestly parishes facilitated the faster spread of the bad moral values thus the increased immoral values in the church setting.
In addition, the rise in child sexual assault as a result of church mechanism failure explained why the church has remained silence. Though the failure in their strategies to eliminate the errant bishops, the teachings have tied to retain the church dignity could also be the reason why the church has remained silent (Pilgrim, 2012). The teachings are considered to be also controversial to the way of life among the servants in the church thus the increased defiance in the church. Furthermore, the biblical teachings of celibacy do not demand the religious leaders to practice strictly it, but it provided for better serving ways. Forcing their leaders to abstain forcibly from sexual relations made it hard for the priests to carry out their activities, therefore, the increased child sexual abuse (“Church Protects Its Own | Betrayed by Silence: Chapter Two”). These controversial teachings also confined the church leaders to comment on the issue and tried to solve it internally. However, more cases continued to arise in different countries including Canada, Australia, and New Zeeland among others (Parkinson, 2014).
The Pope’s attempt to excommunicate the sexually abusive bishops in the church was reflected as a deterministic model that aimed to break the silence of the church on the sexual assaults. However, the growing number of confessors sabotaged the efforts made by the Vatican church to reduce sex abuse cases reported in Canada and Australia (Isely, 1997).Though the confession helped out to figure out the strategy to resolve the issue, the alarming increase in abusive cases have made it difficult for the church to respond to the increased cases. Additionally, the strategies used by the Vatican church failed to suggest ways to blackmail the abusive bishops. The penalties intended to punish the bishops were left unimplemented and such the church was unable to control the behavior among the priests (McLaughlin, 1994).
According to Langevin, Curnoe & Bain, 2000, the church was bound to protect their interest in fighting the immoral values in the church. Though the Pope publicly pronounce the fight against the abusive bishops, the teachings and the traditions of the church tied them from fighting their bishops. The teachings were to be observed as well as maintaining the image of the church that was considered to be the driving in the church teachings and traditions. (“What is the Cause of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church?”).
At the same time, the Protestants Churches were fighting them demanding the combat of some of the Catholic teachings that were considered to be unbiblical. In protecting the church reputation, the church officials embraced the culture and the church traditions while fighting the immoral priests. The excommunication as suggested by the Pope had no impact on the sexual abuse in the church thus the increasing children sexual abuse of the minors by the priests. Nevertheless, the transfer of the priests to other parishes facilitated faster spread of the immoral sexual behavior in the church. It also made the church officials had to remain publicly silent and passively fought the vice within the church (Keenan, 2011).
In conclusion, the Catholic Church teachings, as well as the traditions observed by the church, contributed to the increasing sexual abuse in the church. These unbiblical teachings remained rhetorical to the priests who found them earthly; therefore, they secretly broke them for their sexual satisfaction. The celibacy practice, the poor measures to curb the immoral activities as well as the poor application of the Catholic teachings were the likely drivers that increased sexual abuse in the church. Entrusting the children in the hands of the priests also predisposed the children to the homosexual behavior at tender ages through the close interaction with the abusive bishops. Furthermore, the attempts to combat the practice was hindered by the Catholic Church culture and traditions that aimed at maintain the church’s image. Besides, the Vatican church’s efforts to excommunicate the abusive bishops was rendered to be ineffective in fighting the abusive priests in the church. Finally, the church officials remained silent to maintain the church’s image apart from their determined actioned to resolve the immoral behavior among the Catholic Church leaders internally.
Brown, C., & Asheville, N. C. (2013). Child sexual abuse. Child Abuse and Neglect, 37(5), 292-302.
“Child Sexual Abuse in the Roman Catholic Church RationalWiki.” N.p., Web. 25 June 2015.
Dallam, S. J., Gleaves, D. H., Cepeda-Benito, A., Silberg, J. L., Kraemer, H. C., & Spiegel, D. (2001). The effects of child sexual abuse: Comment on Rind, Tromovitch, and Bauserman (1998).
Doyle, T. P., & Rubino, S. C. (2003). Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Meets the Civil Law. Fordham Urb. LJ, 31, 549.
Dunne, E. A. (2004). Clerical child sex abuse: The response of the Roman Catholic Church. Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology, 14(6), 490-494.
Hamilton, M. A. (2007). The Waterloo for the So-Called Church Autonomy Theory: Widespread Clergy Abuse and Institutional Cover-Up. Cardozo Law Review, 29(225).
Haywood, T. W., Kravitz, H. M., Wasyliw, O. E., Goldberg, J., & Cavanaugh, J. L. (1996). Cycle of abuse and psychopathology in cleric and noncleric molesters of children and adolescents. Child abuse & neglect, 20(12), 1233-1243.
Gavrielides, T., & Coker, D. (2005). Restoring faith: Resolving the Roman Catholic Church’s sexual scandals through restorative justice (Working Paper I). Contemporary Justice Review, 8(4), 345-365.
Hidalgo, M. L. (2007). Sexual abuse and the culture of Catholicism: How priests and nuns become perpetrators. Routledge.
Isely, P. J. (1997). Child sexual abuse and the Catholic Church: An historical and contemporary review. Pastoral Psychology, 45(4), 277-299.
Jenkins, P. (1995). Clergy sexual abuse: The symbolic politics of a social problem. Images of issues: Typifying contemporary social problems, ed. J. Best, 104-130.
Keenan, M. (2011). Child sexual abuse and the Catholic Church: gender, power, and organizational culture. Oxford University Press.
Kim, S. C., Gostin, L. O., & Cole, T. B. (2012). Child abuse reporting: rethinking child protection. JAMA, 308(1), 37-38.
Lamberg, L. (2005). Researchers seek roots of pedophilia. JAMA, 294(5), 546-547.
Langevin, R., Curnoe, S., & Bain, J. (2000). A study of clerics who commit sexual offenses: are they different from other sex offenders?. Child abuse & neglect, 24(4), 535-545.
McLoone‐Richards, C. (2012). Say nothing! How pathology within Catholicism created and sustained the institutional abuse of children in 20th century Ireland. Child abuse review, 21(6), 394-404.
McLaughlin, B. R. (1994). Devastated spirituality: The impact of clergy sexual abuse on the survivor’s relationship with God and the church. Sexual Addiction & Compulsivity: The Journal of Treatment and Prevention, 1(2), 145-158.
McLaughlin*, D. (2005). The dialectic of Australian Catholic education. International Journal of Children’s Spirituality, 10(2), 215-233.
Parkinson, P. (2013). Child Sexual Abuse and the Churches: A Story of Moral Failure?. Sydney Law School Research Paper, (13/78).
Parkinson, P. (2014). Child Sexual Abuse and the Churches: A Story of Moral Failure. Current Issues Crim. Just., 26, 119.
Pilgrim, D. (2012). Child Abuse in Irish Catholic Settings: A Non‐Reductionist Account. Child Abuse Review, 21(6), 405-413.
Plante, T. G. (1996). Catholic priests who sexually abuse minors: Why do we hear so much yet know so little?. Pastoral Psychology, 44(5), 305-310.
Rossetti, S. J. (1995). The impact of child sexual abuse on attitudes toward God and the Catholic Church. Child Abuse & Neglect, 19(12), 1469-1481.
Rossetti, S. J. (1996). A tragic grace: The Catholic Church and child sexual abuse. Liturgical Press.
Sullivan, J., & Beech, A. (2004). A comparative study of demographic data relating to intra-and extra-familial child sexual abusers and professional perpetrators. Journal of Sexual Aggression, 10(1), 39-50.
“The Church Protects Its Own | Betrayed by Silence: Chapter Two.” Minnesota Public Radio News. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2015.
Wolak, J., Finkelhor, D., Mitchell, K. J., & Ybarra, M. L. (2008). Online” predators” and their victims: myths, realities, and implications for prevention and treatment. American Psychologist, 63(2), 111.
“What is the Cause of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church?” GotQuestions.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2015.
“Why a Celibate Priesthood?” Catholic Answers. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 June 2015.
Place an order in 3 easy steps. Takes less than 5 mins.