Saturday, August 18, 2018

CLEANING UP CLERGY SEXUAL TRANSGRESSION

"Roman Catholic Sexual Scandal"

If you use "roman catholic sexual scandal" for an on-line search , what will you find? A long list of news posts and a list of related searches that will uncover more related posts. Recent news posts center mostly on horrendous Grand Jury findings about R.C. clergy sex in Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Here's a summary paragraph from an Associated Press article.

"In a report released Tuesday, a state grand jury said it found that more than 1,000 children were molested or raped by over 300 "predator priests" in six Pennsylvania dioceses since the 1940s."  Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

It's shocking that many of the very persons who pronounce the forgiveness of sins in Jesus' name engage in the cruelest of sins against their own young people.

Why so amazing? Church members trust their clergy. It's horrendous to have this trust abused by clergy who've led children in their pastoral care into sexual activity. Especially in the Roman Catholic situation, when those clergy are supposed to practice sexual abstinence.

I want to ask: going forward, what can we learn? 

I think we learn that an open, public system of trial and discipline should be in place in every church body. In my own church organization (The United Methodist Church) a system of discipline has long been in place. The system provides for public trial by peers and punishment when charges are brought. It's a tried-and-proven system that Pope Francis and Rome should consider and adapt for the Roman Catholic Church. Sexual activity of priests with congregants would be assessed publicly within the church itself. 

As a persons practicing Christian social ethics, I'm ready with moral assessments of politicians, leaders of neo-Nazi movements, racists and others. The skill of  moral judgment should be directed toward the leadership in the church body itself. That's why I call on Catholics to adapt a a tried-and-true, open-and-honest, trial system for sexual discipline within Catholicism. This doesn't imply that Catholic views on celibacy should be relaxed, but only that they should be enforced.

Finally, a note to the dear Pope Francis: "the greatest challenge of your pontifical career is to strengthen the sexual discipline of the Roman church clergy. Any weakness in control of clergy sexual sin is another wound to the Body of Christ." To his credit, Pope Francis issued a statement along these lines; read it here.

Further reading: excellent commentary by the Very Rev. Nathan LeRud, OregonLive, 8/26/2018.

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