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An evil epidemic
by Thanos Kalamidas
2009-05-23 10:29:02
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The truth is that communication and information have radically changed over the last few years, nowadays we learn everything in real time doesn’t matter where it happens and that often makes me wonder if the things happening today and we hear all the time were happening when I grew up. Of course then we didn’t have mobile phones, flat screen televisions; we had black and white television and internet was utopia, science fiction.

Then again I found myself many times saying that things today haven’t gone better or worse they are just different. But again how different? Was all this lack of information that made us more naïve? I grew up in a country where the vast majority of the population are Christians by birth, when I was very young I went to the Sunday school and I did go to the services actually with the school, it was part of the education back then, religion and history of Christianity was a lesson and in the morning before starting the lesson we used to pray. Yes, nowadays I’m an atheist but this came with a slow process when I started asking questions and take the wrong answers but most of all when I started thinking and expressing the best human quality judging what I was listening and reading.

Still and that was perhaps due to old stereotypes I always had a very romantic view coming to priests, nuns and monks. If you have traveled in Greece or if you have seen pictures – there are so many in the internet nowadays – priest in Greece are respectful old men with long beards and the long black robe always poor and surrounded from kids ready to help and give. Faces with mercy and understanding. Yes there were some who weren’t good and the novelist Kazantzakis has pointed some of them very well in his books especially in the world known “Greek Passion” or better as the author wanted it, “Christ Recrucified” but again even in this beautiful book the good priest is wining in the end and his memory is what remains for the reader.

And then we are coming today, there is always on the news somewhere a story where a priest, a monk or a nun did something horrific and to make the horrific nightmarish the victims are kids. It seems that molesting, torturing and even killing kids has become an epidemic among clerics and the picture of the old bearded priest has turned to totally evil with red eyes and horns. A dangerous vampire. And please be careful what I’m writing, I know very well the dissociation between the clerics and the religion or to use the Greek semantics the difference between the church and the clerics. But again the excuse that in the end even the clerics, the monks, the nuns and the priests are just ordinary humans seems so poor and idiotic. No, I’m sorry but they are not just humans they are humans with a mission and obligations, people with a path.

Today I was reading in the news that a nine-year investigation has found that Catholic priests and nuns in Ireland have been terrorizing, raping and torturing for decades in institution that were under the control of the catholic church and that the state had done nothing afraid of the taboo of going against the catholic church. I don’t have any problem with the Catholic Church, a week ago I was reading about a Greek priest who was actually sending fifteen year old girls to prostitution and he was taking the money and then it was another one Anglican this time. The Catholic and the Orthodox churches in USA have paid billions – that’s another thing I find disgusting from the people who preach justice and fairness – to cover hundreds of pedophilia cases inside the church. The point is that the incidents becoming overwhelming, scary overwhelming.

So what’s the matter? Was it like that forty years ago when I was growing up? Was the old and good bearded priest who was preaching the bible in Sunday school nothing more than a masked evil character ready to torture and molester us? Oddly so many years after I still remember his name!

All this information nowadays has two sides at least as I see it, from the one side it is good that we are learning all these things because now they know that they cannot hide and that punishment will come one way or another – of course when the church doesn’t try to cover up. And this is good! But there is the other side of the coin that says that all this information might works like a passage for a virus to spread and the incident becomes an epidemic. Perhaps before they had the inner power to keep inside these monstrous feelings while today reading so often about them, seen photos and read descriptions in the net they cannot hold. But then again think how many classics describe the hell of orphanages and the role of clerics in those dark moments. But still even in these classics you can sense that the writers were reverse and afraid to go further, talk more about the tortures, they church was a taboo and the memories of the inquisition so perhaps it was the same. I don’t know but I’m afraid that that’s a really bad sign on where we are going and coming from an atheist makes it …scary!

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Emanuel Paparella2009-05-23 14:06:42
There is no doubt that the sexual abuse of children is a despicable act of deviant sexual addiction that ought to be condemned, uncovered and rigorously punished no matter where it occurs and who perpetrates it. Covering up the abuse only compounds the moral problem. The cover caption of today asks the question: is the collar too tight? The obvious implication is that if priests were simply allowed to get married the problem of pedophilia among the clergy would simply disappear. That assumption only muddles the issue, I am afraid. Studies after studies have shown that married men and other groups of men are just as likely as celibate priests to sexually abuse children. One such study is by the non-Catholic scholar Philip Jenkins who wrote a book titled “Pedophiles and Priests,” considered the most comprehensive study to date on this issue in the US. Yes there is an epidemic, perhaps there always was an epidemic, the difference being that now we find out much faster as the above article rightly suggests; but the epidemic is not confined to the clergy. In that book Jenkins shows with polls and statistics that the use and abuse of children as objects for the sexual gratification of adults is epidemic in ALL classes, professions, religions, and ethnic communities across the globe, as figures on child pornography, incest, and child prostitution make abundantly clear. The study concludes that pedophilia (the sexual abuse of a prepubescent child) among priests is extremely rare, affecting only 0.3% of the entire population of clergy. The study found that only one out of 2,252 priests considered over a thirty-year period was afflicted with pedophilia. In the Boston scandal, only four of the more than eighty priests labeled by the media as "pedophiles" are actually guilty of molesting young children. (continued below)

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-23 14:07:48
This is so because the term “pedophilia” has been misapplied by the media. Pedophilia is a particular type of compulsive sexual disorder in which an adult (man or woman) abuses prepubescent children. The vast majority of the clerical sex-abuse scandals now coming to light do not involve pedophilia. Rather, they involve ephebophilia — homosexual attraction to adolescent boys. While the total number of sexual abusers in the priesthood is much higher than those guilty of pedophilia, it still amounts to less than 2 percent — comparable to the rate among married men (Jenkins, Pedophiles and Priests). Other religious denominations and non-religious institutions have admitted to having similar problems with botth pedophilia and ephebophilia among the ranks of their clergy. There's no evidence that Catholic prelates are more likely to be pedophiles than Protestant ministers, Jewish leaders, physicians, or any other institution in which adults are in a position of authority and power over children.

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-23 14:32:45
P.S. The picture of the Inquisitorial trial at the beginning of the article is quite intriguing. Here too there is some kind of implication or assumption. If I understand it correctly, it is this: those prelates in the Catholic Church who go around proclaiming that they are holier than thou ought to hold themselves to a higher standard than ordinary people and they ought not be such hypocrites as to then go around condemning others with their inquisitorial methods while covering up their transgressions. I would tend to agree with that assessment; however, so that we too don’t end up imitating the inquisition paradoxically condemning the inquisition with an inquisitorial trial, should it not be made clear before the trial begins that the shameful deviancy mentioned in the above piece is not endemic exclusively to the Catholic Church?

Thanos2009-05-23 15:42:01
I agree that now we find much faster than we used to and perhaps that is one thing but shouldn't the church have better way to stop people like that? And of course I don't stop only in the Catholic church, as I said there is no much difference in the Orthodox or the Protestant. Shouldn't be some guarding rules, use of methods like psychologists or something like that before these people come in contact with their flock? after all they don't become priests from one day to the other but there is the time they spent training.

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-23 16:32:56
Indeed, Thanos, you are quite right in insisting that the Church, or the Synagogue or the Mosque ought to do a better job at selecting and training its clergy. I don’t think any sane person would dispute that and indeed we agree on that point. Since religion claims that its purpose is to make people holy and better people, it should be able to demonstrate that it has made people better than what they would have been in a purely natural state (the Roussonian noble savage…); that it can improve human nature by mitigating its excesses with grace, or run the risk of being accused of hypocrisy. Aquinas in fact reminds us that “grace builds on nature” and that nature has to be sane and normal to begin with or grace will do nothing for it. He also reminds us that “the abuse of anything legitimate to begin with does not take away its use.” We tried that misguided approach in the US in regard to alcohol but it did not work very well, in fact it let to greater abuses. To throw religion out the window (Voltaire’s misguided 18th century approach) because of its abuses is no enlightened solution either, I am afraid. Actually, the only point I was making, which I believe has been somewhat overlooked, was that deviancy in sexual matters cuts across the board and is a world-wide epidemic, not only among clerics and religions but among laypeople too, believers or non-believers. That empirical premise arrived at by various studies of the issue, ought to be kept well in mind when discussing this sad issue, that is if we wish to contribute to a viable solution and not simply add fuel to the fire of bias against religion.

Emanuel Paparella2009-05-23 16:43:29
P.S. A personal anecdote, if I may. One of my four sisters no longer attends church or practices her religion, she is now close to declaring herself an atheist as a way of protesting the abuses within the Church. We probably all know one of those people. I have attempted to remind her that were one to go to Church because it is perfect, nobody would go to church since we are all imperfect, including the Pope, and the Church is not only the Church of saints, but also, and especially, the Church of and for sinners. She is still not convinced by my argument but I also remain convinced that hers is a mere excuse and not a legitimate reason for thowing away the baby (her faith) with the bathwater (the abuses of religion). I continue prayins for her as well as for those miguided clerics who dishonor the Church and their vocation and give excuses to people like my sister to reject their faith.

Thanos2009-05-23 17:57:53
I suppose I keep writing about Christian Churches because my personal pictures and memories are too strong - the good hearted bearded old Greek priest as I often mentioned - or because my personal knowledge in what is going to other religions is pretty limited but yes in this sense the churches and their leadership should if not be oblige to meet today's demands that include been more selective to the people that represent them.

David Barger2009-05-24 07:29:46
It takes a very sick and twisted mind to even want any sexual desire towards a child. This is seen in every human being where there is right and wrong, just and unjust thoughts...but the individual must decide. Those whom have done such evils, well, take them out, rub them out of existence. That is one line no one should cross. Then again humans will be humans no matter how sick and evil the acts are, but if the penalties are strong and upheld for such cases then the number of children being touched in such manner will decrease, though I believe evil will always find ways of sneaking around. That is the nature of the beast, in a manner of speaking.

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