By Calvin Palmer
Leaders of the Roman Catholic Church appear incapable of seeing the elephant in the room when it comes to child abuse by priests.
Bishop Felipe Arizmendi, a prominent bishop in Mexico, is the latest to try and deflect the spotlight by blaming eroticism on television and online pornography for child abuse by priests.
During an annual meeting of Mexican bishop’s yesterday, Arizmendi, the Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, in southern Mexico, said: “If on television and on the Internet and in so many media outlets there is pornography, it is very difficult to stay pure and chaste.”
He added: “Obviously when there is generalized sexual freedom it’s more likely there could be cases of pedophilia.”
If child abuse by priests was a phenomenon of the last couple of decades, the good bishop’s words might have a ring of truth about them. But the Roman Catholic Church’s history of child abuse by priests goes back to the 1950s and probably beyond.
The vow of celibacy, in and of itself, is always bound to attract maladjusted individuals and the problem is that those individuals wield enormous power and influence, particularly over youngsters, in the communities they serve.
And who would dare to accuse a priest of wrongdoing? It is the antithesis of everything they are supposed to believe in. So for certain individuals, the priesthood offers the perfect environment to engage in their unnatural practices and seldom be brought to account.
Pederasty is not confined to the Catholic Church. Baptist ministers in Texas have committed buggery on young boys and many a vicar in the Church of England has found the allure of choirboys too strong to resist.
The timing of Arizmendi’s comments follows on from allegations of sex abuse by priests in several European countries and other parts of the world, which has shaken the foundations of the Catholic Church.
Leaders of the church seem incapable of confronting the problem head on and instead of trying to put out the fire just seem to add fuel.
On Monday, the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, said priest pedophilia was linked to homosexuality not celibacy.
“Many psychologists and psychiatrists have shown that there is no link between celibacy and pedophilia, but many others have shown, I have recently been told, that there is a relationship between homosexuality and pedophilia,” Bertone told a news conference in Santiago, Chile.
Mexico has the second-largest Roman Catholic population after Brazil and the country has been rocked by its own share of allegations against Catholic leaders.
Last year, the Pope ordered an inquiry into the Legionaries of Christ order whose Mexican founder, Marcial Maciel, was discovered to be a sexual molester of young boys. Maciel died in 2008.
The Vatican was hit by another embarrassing revelation this week when a Web site posted a letter by a senior cardinal heartily congratulating a French bishop in 2001 for not denouncing a self-confessed abusive priest to the police.
Clearly, the Catholic Church needs to get its act together to preserve the integrity of the many good men who are its servants. It is time the church aired its dirty linen in public, even if, in the process of doing so, a far-reaching web of depravity is uncovered.
[Based on a report by Reuters.]