I wrote the letter below in The Pitt News regarding the sex abuse scandal for the campus Catholic student group (the links don't work). This is the latest in the series regarding my writings (as opinions columnist etc.) in The Pitt News.
Letter to the editor
Catholic teachings are not at fault
The Newman Oratory Catholic Organization, as the official Roman Catholic organization on the Pitt campus, would like to take this opportunity to formally address the recent criticism the Church has received. We would like to acknowledge the current situation about pedophilic and ephebophilic priests, address the general attack the Church underwent recently in the Pitt News and finally address the Catholics here on the Pitt campus.
It pains us that priests of the Catholic Church violated members of the Church’s innocents in the recent and distant past. In this scandalous sin, they strike at the very God, Church and world they vowed to serve. May God have mercy on us.
We also wish to address the bishops of the dioceses that allowed this crime to continue. In all 50 states, sexual child abuse is a felony. At the first proof of abuse, those priests should have been immediately pulled from ministry and handed over to the authorities.
Of course this criticism is easily assailed in hindsight, as Bishop Wuerl of the Diocese of Pittsburgh reported. “[All the Bishops] were … assured [by psychological scientists] that with proper treatment and oversight, this type of compulsive behavior could be controlled … Nonetheless we know today that the risk is too great.” (see www.pitt.edu/~oratory/citations.html for all article references.)
Now, the policies of the Bishops have changed. The way in which these cases were treated was a grievous error, but the Catholic teachings that deal directly or indirectly with the priesthood are not to be blamed. Other unrelated issues should be addressed separately.
It had been speculated by Catholics and non-Catholics alike that the requirement of celibacy for Catholic priests in the Roman rite is indeed what caused the current situation. According to Dr. Frederick Berlin, M.D., Ph.D., the founder of the Sexual Disorders Clinic at John Hopkins University School of Medicine, there is no evidence that supports the claim that the celibate priest is any more likely to be a pedophiliac or ephebophiliac than any other person, including those who are married.
In fact, as reported by Deal Hudson of CRISIS Magazine, “…celibacy should be rather easy to defend, especially in a culture where sexual behavior has damaged so many people. The fact that you have 46,000 men in the U.S. and 100,000 men around the world who have dedicated themselves totally to the service of Catholics is a powerful witness to a generation addicted to genital satisfaction.” (ccc#2352)
In “The Ten Commandments: The First Draft”, [M. Derek] Care mentioned that priests in the Catholic church are celibate to remain pure, but in fact, according to the Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 1579-80 (ccc#1579-1580) priestly celibacy is “‘for the sake of the kingdom of heaven,” to “consecrate themselves with undivided heart to the Lord and to ‘the affairs of the Lord” and to “radiantly proclaim the Reign of God.” If a priest disregards the Church’s teaching, it is caused by his own sin.
Further, as ignorantly alleged, the church is not hostile toward homosexuals, only opposed to the gay acts they commit (ccc#2357-2359), teachings about birth control are not “arbitrary” (ccc#2366-2372 and Onan’s sin in Genesis 38 (see citations)) and Catholics do not worship idols (ccc#2112-2114), but create art, or icons (see ccc#1159-1162 and 2129-2132) that remind us of Jesus, heavenly beings and the Saints.
In addition, the Catholic Church did not fully ignore the recent scandalous events, but definitely did not ignore the Holocaust. As a matter of fact, Einstein spoke for the Church in Time magazine in 1940 about the Holocaust, saying, “Only the [Catholic] Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth.”
For all those in the Catholic Church on campus, please realize the only response to this and all scandals is holiness. When the Church suffers the most as the Body of Christ from within or by others (John 15:18-20), God calls us all the more to witness to the Church’s real face: as people called into the race for Holiness (1 Corinthians 9:24-27) by the grace of Jesus and guided by the Spirit in the pillar and bulwark of Truth (1 Timothy 3:15). Even Judas betrayed Jesus, but thank God the other Eleven Apostles found the grace to continue as His disciples to proclaim One Lord, One Faith and One Baptism with Simon Peter as their Rock (Ephesians 4:4-16, Matthew 16:18, John 1:42).
Gutter Ball Master, on behalf of
Ryan Catholic Newman Center
4450 Bayard St.
Pittsburgh, Pa. 15213
© Copyright 2008 The Pitt News