The Former Pope Was Wrong
The sexual revolution didn’t cause pedophilia — pedophiles do
Pope Benedict Arnold emerged from his self-exile to make the horrifically unconscionable worse than it already is.¹ Perhaps bored with retirement he has decided to add insult injury with a dire lack of education and compassion.
It used to be that the ignorant decried priestly celibacy as the cause of sexual abuse rampant in the Catholic church. It is, of course, not the cause of pedophilia nor did it cause anyone to rape or sexually assault adults. If it were then how do you explain the widespread abuse finally being reported in other Christian denominations and secular organizations whose leaders do not take vows of celibacy? This is about power and access.
Credible accusations have been made against 380 people within the Southern Baptist Convention between 1997 and 2018. 220 were convicted of sex crimes or accepted plea deals. “Some victims as young as 3 were molested or raped inside pastors’ studies and Sunday school classrooms.”²
The Southern Baptist Convention and its 47,000 churches chose not to implement reforms proposed in 2008 that would “track sexual predators and take action against congregations that harbored or concealed abusers.”³
Dating back to the 1940s, “The Boy Scouts of America’s own records show that more than 12,000 children have been sexually assaulted while participating in the organization’s programs.” Pending lawsuits could bankrupt the well respected organization but at least its leadership is reacting appropriately on behalf of the abused, rather than shielding the more than 7,800 leaders accused of sexual abuse.⁴
“We believe victims,” said Boy Scouts of America Chief Executive Michael Surbaugh. “We pay for unlimited counseling by a provider of their choice, and we encourage them to come forward.”
Now of course the ideal would be that children can go to church and participate in enriching activities without being molested by pedophiles. But society hasn’t managed to eradicate this particular human evil. So the absolute least we can do is treat the symptoms if we can’t cure the disease.
Pope Hitlerjunge trying to explain pedophilia as an inevitable result of the 1960s sexual revolution is astonishing in its ignorance. But in a previously unpublished essay submitted to the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences he waxes something far more confusing than philosophic.
“I try to show that in the 1960s an egregious event occurred, on a scale unprecedented in history. It could be said that in the 20 years from 1960 to 1980, the previously normative standards regarding sexuality collapsed entirely, and a new normalcy arose that has by now been the subject of laborious attempts at disruption.
In the second part, I aim to point out the effects of this situation on the formation of priests and on the lives of priests.”⁵
He goes on to lambast “controversial suitcases of sexual education materials” in German and Austrian public schools and explain that “sexual films” are no longer showed on airplanes in order to prevent the apparently inevitable violence that “would break out among the small community of passengers”.
His stream of consciousness culminates/disintegrates into this incomprehensible nonsense:
“Part of the physiognomy of the Revolution of ’68 was that pedophilia was then also diagnosed as allowed and appropriate.”⁵
I don’t know what kind of fake news reported that something all cultures universally abhor was “diagnosed” and accepted as a sexual orientation by Americans in the 60s — Americans who, by the way, still considered homosexuality to be morally deviant.
Pedophiles abused children before the 1960s. And likely have for all of human history. And priests also abused nuns — adult women.⁶ So the former pope’s diagnosis of the cause of pedophilia is as inaccurate as his timeline.
Pedophiles with power, emboldened by the entitlement all of human history has bestowed upon men, will abuse vulnerable children they are granted access to. And they have been abetted by relocation with impunity.
Law-abiding people with any functioning moral compass do not spontaneously become sex offenders because of a social movement that advocated for women’s rights and gay rights. If they didn’t find children sexually attractive before a particular change in society they wouldn’t suddenly find themselves attracted to children and exploiting situational trust to access them. There in’t even correlation here, let alone causation.
Suddenly gaining access to birth control didn’t turn a generation of women into rapists. And gay men advocating for recognition of their legitimate sexual orientation didn’t spontaneously become pedophiles — though I wouldn’t be surprised if Pope Early Retirement conflates sexual orientation between consenting adults with a crime against children.
Pedophiles cause pedophilia. Rapists cause rape. These are not difficult concepts.
But if sentences with words are too difficult for the former pope to comprehend perhaps some simple algebra-with-words formulas— none of which have to do with politically agitating for sexual equality of adults — will help.
Pedophilia + Power(Access) = Abuse
Pedophilia + Power(Access)(Impunity) = Chronic Abuse
Sexual Deviance + Violence + Entitlement(Impunity) = Sexual Assault, Rape
Pedophiles and other sexual abusers with access to vulnerable people or a power differential to exploit will commit abuse. And they will continue to abuse when they are protected by systems and institutions that value self-preservation over justice.
Pedophilia and sexual assault are not uniquely Catholic problems. Nor are they uniquely ecclesiastical problems. They are the inevitable consequences of a combustible combination — sexual deviants in power positions with access to vulnerable people protected by systems that don’t report them to law enforcement and a judicial system that under-punishes perpetrators while re-traumatizing victims.
Those systems include patriarchal societies in general, churches, schools, offices, restaurants and male-dominated industries like Hollywood, the military, law enforcement and the music industry — anywhere that an aspiring perpetrator has access to potential victims and the responsible bureaucracy is disinclined to enforce moral or legal consequences. Many of these organizations won’t even impose administrative or fiscal consequences.
Although the pope in question fundamentally misunderstands the causes of abuse at least he believes in consequences for it.
“I agreed with Pope John Paul II that it was appropriate to assign the competence for these offences to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, under the title Delicta maiora contra fidem. This arrangement also made it possible to impose the maximum penalty, i.e., expulsion from the clergy … it is important to see that such misconduct by clerics ultimately damages the Faith.”⁴
I am a Catholic and I love my Church. But I reserve the right to feel betrayed by priests who don’t protect the flock. That we should defrock those who abuse is a given. But while we continue to fall inexcusably short of this worldwide it is especially disheartening for a former pope to publicly create confusion about the causes of the very abuse we failed to prevent and punish.
This is a nondenominational powder keg that continues to blame everything but the gunpowder and the sparks for the explosion.
1. Ex-Pope blames 1960s revolution for sex abuse
Retired Pope Benedict XVI has published a letter which blames clerical sex abuse on the "all-out sexual freedom" of the…
2. The FAQs: Investigative Report Uncovers Sexual Abuse in Southern Baptist Churches
What just happened? On Sunday the Houston Chronicle published the first in a three-part series on sexual abuse in…
3. 20 years, 700 victims: Southern Baptist sexual abuse spreads as leaders resist reforms
As leaders decline to act, the numbers grow. In the past 20 years, about 380 Southern Baptist church leaders and…
4. Abuse By Boy Scout Leaders More Widespread Than Earlier Thought
The Boy Scouts of America's own records show that more than 12,000 children have been sexually assaulted while…
5. Full text of Benedict XVI: 'The Church and the scandal of sexual abuse'
The following is a previously unpublished essay from Pope emeritus Benedict XVI: On February 21 to 24, at the…
6. Sexual Abuse of Nuns: Longstanding Church Scandal Emerges From Shadows
ROME - The sexual abuse of nuns and religious women by Catholic priests and bishops - and the abortions that have…
Update May 31, 2018: