Church and pedophilia: Hypocrisy of Power
Yes, we all are tired. There is no place where we are not bombarded by news concerning atrocious acts of pedophilia carried out by the alleged vicars of God on Earth, the priests. I am amazed when I read an interview of an Italian priest who stated: “The common moral sense of Italians was blown away by a wave of indifference and superficiality. Nowadays, they are simply overexploiting our difficulties and losing their dignity of pure sons of God”.
If, on one hand, it is true that it is easy to switch from a moral condemnetion to a blind unconditioned hostility, on the other hand, we should check out the integrity of the moral sense of the Church, meant as a temporal institution, which appears to be every day weaker and subject to the chronicles business, even when this is a mere, sad and grotesque triumph of brutality.
In recent times, the chief of the German Bishops’ Conference, Robert Zollitsch, admitted for the first time that the German catholic Church had been hiding several cases of sexual abuse of minors “for years” and these crimes were committed by the exponents of the religious world. This was confessed in an interview to the weekly magazine “Focus”.
“These abuses would stay hidden – Zollitsch says – because the problem hasn’t been faced in its social wholeness”
“I feel ashamed – he added – and I am extremely frightened as these crimes are mostly occurring within the walls of the church, while every single abuse obscures the prestige of the whole institution”.
The president of the German Bishops’ Conference also declared that he had to face some remarkable difficulties in following the choice made by the Bavarian bishops: reporting every new case of children abuse to the civil attorneys, because – and this is absurd – the victims want to vent their pain, while they don’t want to denounce their tormentors to the justice services.
“This behavior – Zollitsch explains – creates a moral problem, as we are interested in bringing those ones who are responsible for these horrible crimes to the court, so that, by means of a regular trial, it would be possible to get a severe and strict court decision.
Then he underlines that his doubts concerning pursuing legal proceedings are born from the assumption that “by means of fake accusations it is possible to morally kill people. The red-hot climate of the moment doesn’t allow people to think about this aspect of the issue”.
Finally, he claims that “There is no direct link between celibacy of priests and sexual abuse, since theological education, whose aim is to prepare the vicars of Christ to fulfill their spiritual task, provides a deep, vast and satisfying investigation on the problem concerning the emotional maturity of those who are called to perpetuate a spiritual mission. If the premarital courses decided to adopt just one tenth of such a reliable accuracy, the link between man and woman would result to be much more stable and definitely better”.
How to face, then, the hiatus between human and divine justice? It is undoubtedly difficult to distinguish between a “spiritual” sense of morality and a “civil” one, as they represent the opposite faces of the same medal and, even if they aim towards the same goal, the first is mostly based on the confidence in the eternal challenge of the unknown, which is eased by the mercy of God and the second focuses on the confidence in human intellectual resources. Therefore they try to pursue the same goal by means of different instruments and by picking the consciences up by two different corners.
What happens when the two moralities struggle? As the idea of justice is caught exactly in between, we cannot expect a positive outcome. An outrageously inhuman circumstance occurred in Recife, Brazil, just a few weeks ago.
Excommunication: the Brazilian Catholic Church has pronounced its verdict against the doctors who allowed a 9 years old to abort a pregnancy after she had been raped by her stepfather and discovered she was pregnant with twins. According to the law of the Church, abortion is a crime, as underlined by Jose Cardoso Sobrinho, bishop of Olinda and Recife and men’s law cannot exceed God’s law. The stepfather, already investigated for sexual assault, admitted that he had been abusing the girl for three years and, according to the doctors, this pregnancy will trigger severe consequences for the physical development of the young child.
Brazilian law permits abortion in cases of rape or health problems of the mother. The young girl, say the doctors, would fit both the categories. Anyway, the bishop, a long-date exponent of the most conservative wing of the Church, started his attack: “God’s law is stronger than any human law – he proudly stated – Therefore, if the human law, which is something conceived and established by men, is contrary to God’s law, this human law has no value”. All those people who took part to the abortion were excommunicated, including the mother of the girl.
This decision was strongly criticized by the Brazilian health minister, Jose Gomes Temporao, who defined it as an “extreme and inopportune position. It is a legal question: the girl was raped. Everything else is just an opinion of the Church. I am shocked by the radical position of this religion which, by wrongly sustaining their will to preserve a life, endangers another human life”. President Lula immediately sent word in favor of doctors: “Medicine is, under this aspect, much better than the Church and the doctors perfectly pursued their goal: they saved the girl”.
Sobrinho is fully backed and supported by the Vatican, though. “It is a very delicate topic, but the Church cannot betray its announcement, and stop defending the life from its conception until its natural end, even when facing such a thrilling human drama”, says Gianfranco Grieco, head of the Vatican Family Council. “Our mission is to preserve life and the family and any of us has to keep a respectful behavior towards life. Abortion is not a solution, it is a mere shortcut.
Excommunicating someone also means that a person is not allowed to take part to the Sacrament of the Communion and, if someone is in sin and chooses not to confess, then he is not allowed to receive the sacred Host. In this case the doctors are undoubtedly in sin, a huge sin, since they operate as active members of the abortion, which is nothing more than a murder. They are the protagonists of a choice of death”.
I wonder when the Church will tell us that donkeys can fly.
First of all, let’s focus on some words provided by Robert Zollitsch, the head of the German Catholic Community. He says: “There is no direct link between celibacy of priests and sexual abuse, since theological education, whose aim is to prepare the vicars of Christ to fulfill their spiritual task, provides a deep, vast and satisfying investigation on the problem concerning the emotional maturity of those who are called to perpetuate a spiritual mission”.
In 1966, the gynecologist William Masters and the psychologist Virginia Johnson published a book entitled “Human Sexual Response”, followed by another essay (1970), “Human Sexual Inadequacy”. Throughout these works, they focus on the topic of sexuality from a clinical-therapeutic point of view, underlining how sexuality can be understood only according to the human physiology. They noticed how the sexual desire is an active part of any human relationship (not only the physical approach).
In order to keep this phase active, the brain has to produce a certain amount of a neurotransmitter, the dopamine, which “tickles” the desire and slows down the production of serotonine, the substance that inhibits it. The second step is the “exit” from the “emotional anesthesia”, which is achieved by means of a reduction of the production of endorphins by the hypothalamus. At the same time, the production of a molecule which adjusts the reproductive hormonal system, called GnRH, is increased.
We can undoubtedly state that sexual desire is not something that can be “educated” or “mastered”, as it is fully depending on some chemical reactions which occur in the brain. How can the Church still believe in chastity then? They do have a secret weapon, which is called “sublimation”.
The psycho-analytical concept of “sublimation” is the attempt among some religious traditions and cultures to transform sexual energy into creativity, improving the mystical attitudes, by starting with the assumption that sexual energy can be used to build up spiritual nature, instead of being let out through physical contacts. The sexual urge provides the intellect a huge amount of “cultural material” and this is due to the fact that it can move its target without any loss in intensity. This exchange can even occur between a sexual and a non-sexual object, which is psychically related to the first.
This deviation has one side effect, though: it triggers instinctual sacrifices, which can provoke a sense of frustration, which allegedly averts from the fulfillment of sexual desire. It was first theorized by Sigmund Freud and still represents a very difficult and enigmatic point as even the Austrian psychoanalyst found himself tormented by a doubt concerning the outcome of sublimation. It is fated to lead everyone to uncertainty and further doubt expressions.
Its destiny is to stop at the verge of perfection and never achieve its fulfillment.
For what concerns the Church, then, we can say that God is the final object of sublimation and also represents the end of the route that starts with the sexual urges and runs through the so-called “emotional education”.
Priests still rape children, though, and it is not just one, two, ten. We are talking about hundreds of pedophiles. So, is the Church education system failing worldwide? Yes, it definitely is and the sublimation can’t guarantee protection from such horrors. Indeed, we know that sublimation leads, by definition, to uncertainty and frustration. If God represents the sublimated object, if he is psychically related to the sexual desire (they both represent the birth of life and the triumph of Love) and if the traditional religion attributes him the quality of perfection, how can its position of sublimated being fit the definition of sublimation itself? In other words, if he is perfect, how can he be the icon of that behavioural uncertainty which is the only possible result of sublimation and which definitely exists in the church?
That’s why it is not possible to talk about sublimation when referring to these issues: the process called “sublimation” itself is not coherent and can’t fit the canons of religion.
For what concerns the legal aspects of this topic, it is vital to underline that in 1948 the United Nations signed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which represents a supranational document and that there is even an International Court of Human Rights. The Vatican is a fledged state, the pope is its head and the priests represent its bureaucracy. Therefore it is possible and binding to appeal to the International civil court against the Vatican, meant as a political institution, before as a religious one.
Moreover, there is a big logical mistake in the words of the Brazilian bishop Sobrinho: “God’s law is stronger than any human law. Therefore, if the human law, which is something conceived and established by men, is contrary to God’s law, this human law has no valor”, he says. We can object that the actual acknowledgement of the Church as a concrete institution was provided by the secular law, by means of the definition of “state”. It would be impossible to define the traits of an actual “spiritual law” if we had not previously conceived the idea itself of law. It is obvious, then, that God’s law was tailor-made, sewn around the human one.
Finally, we all should wonder if it is fair that two doctors, who have saved the life of a 9 years old girl were excommunicated, while hundreds of priests, bishops and cardinals who rape children deserve the mercy of God and appeal to his forgiveness. There is definitely something wrong: the immoral hypocrisy of the Church and its will to rule the politics and destroy different ideas, without any religious background.
Now that the distinction between believers and non-believers has become a challenge between priests and non-priests, there is not much that we can do.
Oh, well, we can still become priests.