The Ro­man Catholic Church: apolo­gies do not cut it

The Amherst News - - RELIGION - Ger­ard Veld­hoven Ger­ard Veld­hoven is a for­mer Amherst res­i­dent who is a long­time ac­tivist for the les­bian, gay, bi­sex­ual and trans­gen­der com­mu­nity. His col­umn ap­pears weekly in the Amherst News. Com­ments and in­for­ma­tion: lgbt­con­nec­tion­sgv@gmail.com.

Rev­e­la­tions about Ro­man Catholic clergy mo­lest­ing chil­dren have come to the fore­front in re­cent days. Many in­stances of abuses have been in the courts over time, but this is the most dam­ag­ing and the most hor­rid news we have heard for some time.

The chil­dren in­volved, boys and girls, many of whom are now adults, have come for­ward to tell their sto­ries that have haunted them over the years.

The pe­dophiles, priests in the Ro­man Catholic Church, have mo­lested young­sters for years.

First, let us de­fine pe­dophilia as ex­plained in Psy­chol­ogy To­day. “Pe­dophilia is a con­di­tion in which a per­son’s sex­ual arousal and grat­i­fi­ca­tion de­pend on fan­ta­siz­ing about and en­gag­ing in sex­ual be­hav­iour that is atyp­i­cal and ex­treme. It is de­fined as the fan­tasy or act of sex­ual ac­tiv­ity with chil­dren who are gen­er­ally age 13 or younger. Pe­dophiles are usu­ally men and can be at­tracted to ei­ther or both sexes.”

Women have also been known to en­gage in these sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties. It has been sug­gested priests be al­lowed to marry, but that does not “cure” a pe­dophile. One may sug­gest that a pe­dophile feels com­fort in the robes of the church and that no one would sus­pect his real iden­tity.

Pope Fran­cis has re­leased a three-page let­ter and laments that the clergy has in­deed per­formed these heinous crimes but fails to men­tion the law of the land must take charge. Feel­ing re­gret is fine but does ab­so­lutely noth­ing to heal the vic­tims. Some form of clo­sure must be forth­com­ing for them to live their lives in some sort of con­tent­ment.

The law, not the Ro­man Catholic Church, must step in to take the priest pe­dophiles within the church to task for their crim­i­nal ac­tiv­i­ties to­ward boys and girls. The law is clear re­gard­ing these mat­ters and Pope Fran­cis, Car­di­nals, Bish­ops and Priests must face the con­se­quences and not pre­tend they are above the law and should only an­swer to God.

The church can no longer hide these hor­rific of­fences, as it has done in the past. The lat­est words from the Pope and other church of­fi­cials sound empty – ad­mit­ting of­fences took place and re­main a huge prob­lem, while call­ing for for­give­ness.

I fail to rec­og­nize that the re­quest will heal the wounds of the vic­tims of sex­ual abuse. Is any­one lis­ten­ing to the cries of those who were at the mercy of these of­fend­ers? Does the Ro­man Catholic Church – not the only re­li­gious de­nom­i­na­tion to have been ac­cused of such crimes – re­ally be­lieve they, and only they, are in charge of such in­ves­ti­ga­tions?

The statute of lim­i­ta­tions should not en­ter into it, as the law has been bro­ken, and sex­ual of­fences must be brought for­ward in our courts and those re­spon­si­ble be brought to jus­tice, tried and pun­ished.

The church seems bent on apol­o­giz­ing, but are they con­cerned about the wel­fare of the child, or its fu­ture as a vi­able and trust­ing in­sti­tu­tion? The hor­rors were ev­i­dent as one vic­tim in­ter­viewed, now an adult, clearly re­mains vis­i­bly up­set and does not view the church as part of his life, but is spir­i­tu­ally healthy.

How many are there in this world who have en­dured these of­fences and were si­lenced by the of­fend­ers in some way? The prob­lem is global, in­clud­ing in our own At­lantic Canada. The church has an­nounced changes to be in­tro­duced in an at­tempt to min­i­mize sex­ual abuse by the clergy.

The fact re­mains those priests that have com­mit­ted the crimes must be ar­rested and face the courts. Many have died, but so many are still with us.

The law must act im­me­di­ately and pun­ish the of­fend­ers. Some say the priests are gay, but sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion has no bear­ing on pe­dophilia.

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