Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Why Can't Just One Priest Admit, I'm Guilty, I'm Sorry?

Just when you think the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal could get no worse, with the scandal brushing the Pope himself, yet another even worse story breaks. This one is truly horrifying.

The Church decided to dump pedophile priests into the remote villages of Native Alaskan and Canadian villages. Out of sight, out of mind. Unless you were one of hundreds, maybe thousands, of Native Eskimo children who were molested or raped. The numbers are staggering: "They knew of 345 cases of molestation in Alaska by 28 perpetrators who came from at least four different countries." There were so many pedophile priests in these small communities that at least one girl was raped by two different priests.

And rather than an exile for these pedophiles, it became a virtual paradise of unaccountability. Warning: The following will make you sick. You should stop reading now if you don't want to ruin your day.
The lawsuit states that Brother Smario offered children food and juice to coax them to stay after class: "He then would unzip his pants, and completely expose his genitals to these children, and masturbate to ejaculation as he walked around the classroom. He would ask the girls to touch his penis and would rub his erect penis on their backs, necks, and arms. Sometimes he would wipe or rub his semen on the girls after he ejaculated. ...
One of Smario's victims says that six of her cousins committed suicide because of Smario.
The sheer concentration of known sex offenders in these isolated communities begins to look less like an accident than a plan. Their institutional protection looks less like an embarrassed cover-up than aiding and abetting. And the way the church has settled case after case across the country, refusing to let most of them go to trial for a public airing, is starting to look like an admission of guilt.
I could go on about the horrors of this story, but I'll let you read it for yourself – reporter Brendan Kiley has done an amazing job.

As for me, every time I read one of these stories, I wonder: why hasn't even one of these pedophile priests simply admitted guilt, apologized to his victims, and turned himself into the authorities? These are priests, the men who, in theory at least, understand confession and penance. Christianity is, at its very core, obsessed with the idea that we are born sinners, and have to confess our transgressions, try to atone for the damage we cause, and accept our punishment. These men joined the priesthood in order to devote themselves to these Christian principles.

So why is it that not one, as far as I know, has voluntarily confessed his pedophilia, apologized, and accepted his punishment?

We used to idolize these men. They were held up as paragons of morality, wisdom and kindness. We looked to them for advice, and held them up as exemplary citizens. Was it all a lie the whole time? Is there not one priest who made a terrible mistake but still has the moral courage to simply confess and take his punishment? To apologize to his victims face-to-face and let them see him walk through the jailhouse doors?

The truth is that the Roman Catholic Church is probably more the culprit than the individual priests. I'll bet that like any large corporation, it's all about damage control, maximizing revenue and minimizing liability, and plausible deniability.

They're just corporate executives, just the next Enron, finally exposed.

Sadly, that whole business about priests being exemplary citizens seems to be nothing more than a marketing trick, a facade that has fallen away to reveal a hollow shell.


  1. The reason none of them ever admit guilt is because Catholicism, and indeed all of Christianity, is based around the concept of sin. The devil made them do it. It's never their fault, they were born into sin. They point fingers at everyone but themselves so they never really have to admit guilt and even if they do, there's still the overtone of their sinful nature and they just have to ask some imaginary man in the sky for forgiveness and it magically makes everything all better.

  2. Yeah, that's one of the things I don't get about Christianity. It's like if we were in a bar, I got drunk and hit you in the nose, and then asked the guy sitting next to you for forgiveness, and he FORGAVE me! And you'd be sitting there saying, "What the ----?"

  3. The reason that priests do not take individual responsibility is that they can't. The Pope ultimately ordains the priests. If the priests take responsibility and admit openly that they molest children, that means the Pope hired a child molester, which damages his ability to claim infallibility. If the Pope's authority did not rest on him being separated from the rest of the sinning world, these cases might be dealt with properly.

  4. Thanks for the link to the article Craig. I'm glad that the victims are now feeling confident enough to bring their stories forward, though I'm saddened that they have such horrible stories to tell in the first place.

  5. If this had happened to any other organization (boy scouts for example) they would be doomed/bankrupt. Nobody would continue to patron such a place. The press would have to wait for information to trickle out of the courthouse and people would throw bricks at the perpetrators. But religion has clouded our perception, as it must to stay alive.


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