My Religion Is Hurting (Part III)

This is a continuation of “My Religion Is Hurting (Part I)” and “My Religion Is Hurting (Part II).” The same caveat from the first two pieces applies: My writings dealing with religion and the Catholic Church are not attempting to discredit the power of spirituality. I also want to note that I am very impressed by the faithful Catholics using their voices as much as they can within the non-democratic organization to move it forward in a socially progressive manner. #NotAllCatholics, if it makes it easier for you to keep reading. Fighting from within just didn’t work for me.

Back in January 2018, I wrote two pieces about the hardships that the Catholic Church has inflicted on the LGBTQ+ community, focusing on discrimination against transgender persons and discriminatory/homophobic funeral bans. Despite Pope Francis telling a gay man that “God made you like this… that you are gay doesn’t matter,” I knew that the discriminatory practices were highly unlikely to end…  

The next example of homophobia from the Catholic Church is a doozy and a mental rollercoaster. Do you want to throw your hands up in the air and scream with me? If so, let’s go:

Now if you haven’t heard, the Catholic Church has covered up years of sexual abuse committed by priests against children. Recently, the grand jury report on the abuses in Pennsylvania broke, but it certainly was not the first recognition of abusive priests whose crimes were covered up by the Catholic Church.

Do you know who is responsible for this?

I would have thought it was the sexual abusers and rapist themselves (aka Catholic priests) and those who protected them (aka the Catholic institution), but apparently the fault actually lies with the LGBTQ+ community and their allies.

Weird, right?!

Clearly, gay people who were loving, working, and living in our communities were sending numerous mental vibes to Catholic priests telling them to attack and rape children. I didn’t know that mind control was a power than came with being gay! We should harness that power for good! (Heavy, heavy sarcasm said with a teasing tone, if you weren't sure.)

Once again, the Catholic Church is passing off their unethical behavior as the work of “the other,” essentially saying that the abusive priests and their protectors were not truly part of the Catholic Church and were more of the secular world. The public is to believe that the abusive culprits, who were ordained by the Church, had actually infiltrated the institution and were on a highly organized mission of sabotage against Christianity itself. Instead of taking responsibility, the Church is blaming the gay community and their allies for paving the way for the Church’s moral decay.

Blaming the gay community is the Catholic Church’s latest attempt to say that the Church is not the problem and not responsible for the actions of their priests. The problems are not their own; instead, their reputation was/is being attacked by the sins of the secular world. According to “From a Moral-Historical Perspective, This Crisis is Worse Than You Realize” by Benjamin Wilker posted on the National Catholic Register and Bishop Robert Morlino from the Madison, WI Diocese, by accepting gay people, the secular world paved the way for pedophilia to be accepted. I have chosen not to link to either of these sources as their articles only spread hate and target a vulnerable minority group; however, I will reference both sources as I formulate my argument against their hate-filled dismissal of abusive Catholic Church priests’ actions as a result of the Church’s hardline discriminatory policies.

According to those trying to minimize the Church’s responsibility in these horrific acts, it was advocates for protections to ensure people who are gay cannot be fired, denied healthcare or marriage rights, or murdered simply because of their sexuality triggered the slippery slope towards the global acceptance of pedophilia. It’s a logical fallacy to say that accepting gay people leads to the acceptance of pedophilia. Another example of a slippery slope fallacy aimed at the LGBTQ+ community is the argument that “the acceptance of homosexuality will lead to the acceptance of beasitality.” Both claims show very little empathy and understanding for the lives and experiences of other human beings and show that the Church is clinging to false equivalences to justify discriminatory behavior.

These claims are untrue and boorish, but they serve the greater purpose of denying rights to a minority group. Unfortunately, the gay community continues to have to fight against these accusations because those using these logical fallacies do not understand consent and because of instances like Kevin Spacey’s “apology” to Anthony Rapp. I’ll come back to the issue of consent very soon, but first, let’s dig into Wilker’s de-Christianization theory.

Wilker hypothesizes that the evangelicalization of ancient Romans and Greeks in the name of Christ is the reason that laws against pedophilia exist. Wilker references the practice of pederasty in Ancient Greece and Rome, where an adult male would pursue an adolescent/teenage male, sometimes platonically and sometimes sexually, and Wilker is right that such practices existed. However, his assertion that the Catholic Church is solely responsible for ending this practice and for our current anti-pedophilia laws is erroneous. Even before the conversion to Christianity, Socrates, Plato, and other Greek writers discussed the pros and cons of this practice, including aspects of consent and power (and slavery) within the context of their culture. I will not deny that Christianity did change the laws of the Romans and Greeks and heavily influenced the nature of sexual relationships, but to use a quote from Craig Ferguson, “[it’s] like calling Hitler a vegetarian. It’s true, but it’s hardly the fuckin’ story, is it?” Greek and Roman cultures also changed from being a warriors and conquerors culture to one more isolated and stationary. Equally, as life expectancy increased, the age of consent changed.

In modern contexts, such changes have also come about through progressive fights for the rights of children, women, and minorities. To say that the Catholic Church is the sole reason that anti-pedophilia laws exist is self-aggrandizing and ignores the contributions of other religious and nonreligious persons who have fought for continued rights for children. Maybe the Church got it started, but they clearly did not finish the job as Catholic priests became one of the biggest groups of aggressors and predators today. Plus, suggesting that the most pious Catholics are the only ones with a moral and ethical center is flat out untrue. I can’t think of any other way to say it.

More to the point, Wilker’s suggestion that abusive priests were simply reaching back to the pre-Christian days of pederasty is laughable, although I guess when the Pope lives in Rome, you do what the ancient Romans do?  (Okay, I do know that Vatican City is its own entity, but humor me.)

In striving to return to the pre-Christian roots, Wilker writes that a  “a deeply-embedded worldwide homosexual network among our priests, bishops, and cardinals… actively engaged in bringing about the full de-Christianization of the world by preying on boys between 12-18, literally recreating Greco-Roman sexual culture in our seminaries and dioceses.” I guess if you cannot place blame on the moral failings of the current institution, it’s best to blame people who lived long, long ago, ignoring that assaulting and raping altar boys and girls are often crimes of opportunity. It’s usually not until a child’s pre-teen or teenage years that they are left alone with a priest prior to Mass. Hence, the opportunity to abuse a child does not present itself until the child reaches these ages. That it’s the same age as the boys pursued by the adult males of Ancient Greece and Rome is likely pure coincidence. And let’s not ignore that young girls were also these priests’ victims, even if the number of these cases were in smaller numbers.

Moving past Wilker, Bishop Robert Morlino in a “Letter to the Faithful” wrote, “here has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia—this despite clear evidence to the contrary. It is time to be honest that the problems are both and they are more.”

This is flat out wrong! This is not an issue that stems from the gay community. It is an issue that stems from adults taking advantage of vulnerable children who cannot grant consent!

Having consensual sex between adults does not directly correlate with raping children because one scenario is consensual sex between adults, the other one is not. Having non-consensual sex is the definition of rape! Children cannot give consent. Gay men and women who engage in sex with other adults are giving consent; otherwise, without consent, it’s sexual abuse or rape. In both of these excuses from Morlino and Wilker, a discussion of consent is entirely missing. Instead, the Church would rather play the blame game.

Blaming the gay community and its allies is an absolutely impressive amount of denial. Those mental gymnastics are Olympic team quality—a gold medal has to go the Catholic Church for that pommel horse routine!

It’s time to stop with the excuses and own up to the harm that the Catholic Church’s actions have done. Morlino and Wilker need to stop pretending that the Church is the victim in all of this, and the use of logical fallacies to justify a homophobic agenda needs to end. If the Catholic Church truly were the leaders against sexual violation as Wilker claim, the Church should have been leading the #MeToo movement, backing affirmative consent policies, and calling out toxic masculinity, not backing it up by only allowing men to be in places of power within their organization. I can only imagine how different the Catholic Church would be if women were equally represented in the Church.

In addition to letting women serve the church in all capacities (not just as cloistered nuns), others have suggested that priests should be allowed to marry and express their sexuality. This seems positive—it isn’t that monsters are only unmarried people, but having the opportunity to marry would promote a better understanding of partnerships, sexuality, and inclusion. The Catholic Church should also have turned over every single predator to the judicial system as soon as a victim reported an incident to anyone within the Church. Instead, they shuffled priests around, removing them from one community and setting them loose on another.

The Catholic Church is not the only organization making sacrificial scapegoats out of minority groups, but they are one of the most effective at doing it, making their followers believe that discriminating against the LGBTQ+ community is good for the soul. What I think is better for the soul of the Church is taking responsibility for these horrendous acts and making sure they never happen again. In addition, the Church needs to take a hard look at its misogynistic and homophobic policies and find a way into the 21st Century. Until then, yes, they’ll probably keep pretending they just overthrew the ancient Greeks and Romans.