Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Most Dangerous Priest?

This story was the headliner in today's Chicago Sun-Times.

Here are some of my thoughts on this story in particular and the entire Catholic sex abuse scandal in general:

1. All child abuse is horrible. It is particularly horrible when someone who is in a position of trust and/or confidence abuses his power and harms a child.

2. That being said, I don't know how useful it is to "rank" the invidiousness of different types of abuse (eg- same-sex, physical, sexual, mental, etc.).

3. That also being said, I would like to know why the priest in the article is allegedly "the most dangerous priest in America." If a major newspaper is going to print those words in bold across an entire front page, I want more details. No, I don't mean the intricate details of the abuse. But I would like to know what makes this priest particularly more dangerous than another fuckwad priest who abuses children.

4. And, the burning question for me, with regard to this entire Catholic priest scandal, is this: Has the situation turned into a scandal because the priests abused their positions of power/trust, because some of the abusive (male) priests abused boys, or some combination of these factors?

5. Sexual abuse of boys is something that is still largely, and unfortunately, an unmentionable subject. But at the same time, victimhood isn't a "who has it worse" contest. The subtext of many articles documenting the scandal is that the abuse of boys by men is somehow worse than the abuse of girls by men.

6. Furthermore, the scandal has largely been framed as a "homosexual" issue. Instead of recognizing the reality that many gay priests serve their positions without abusing children, some people with anti-gay agendas distance the Catholic Church from the abuse by stating that it's a "homosexual" issue. And therefore, that gays shouldn't be allowed to be priests.

Now, I could just as easily say that the scandal is a male priest issue, since every abuser in the scandal was a man. But I won't.

I could also easily say that the alleged cover-up of the abuse by other men higher up in the Church was an attempt to maintain a male-dominated status quo. And, the subsequent framing of the issues as a "homosexual" one is an attempt to shine the light on a supposed "homosexual priest problem" instead of the fact that men are, overwhelmingly, the majority of persons who sexually abuse children (of either sex) and that a male-only institution should not be surprised when some of its men end up abusers of children.

But I won't. At least not yet.

I want to gather my sources and return to this issue at a later date. Preferably when I'm less pissed off.

For now, the issue should be framed as what it is: a group of people abusing their power and the trust that young people have in them.

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