Sexual abuse in Roman Catholic Church
Posted: August 14, 2002
An analysis by
Dr. Kwame Nantambu
At the outset, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port-of-Spain, Edward Gilbert, should be lauded for "pledging full co-operation with the Government in any criminal cases of sexual misconduct involving minors and members of his clergy."
His stern, "no second chances for guilty priests" policy compliments and supplements his stance that "any priest found guilty of sexually molesting young boys and teenagers in Trinidad and Tobago would be asked to resign immediately."
This religious policy position by His Grace predates a new policy on
sexual abuse by priests in the United States Catholic Church.
On l4 June 2002, American Bishops, at their tumultuous and momentous summit conference in Dallas, Texas, voted 239 to l3 "to remove priests who have sexually abused children from parish, school, nursing home or other ministry positions."
In a 3,500-word policy document titled "Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People", the U.S. Conference of Bishops issued the Church's new "zero tolerance" policy regarding sexual abusive priests in these words:
1. "Abusers past and future will technically remain priests, but they will be prohibited from any work connected to the church
- from celebrating Mass to teaching in parochial school to
- serving in a Catholic soup kitchen.
2. Priests still can be defrocked-removed from the priesthood- but it would be up to the presiding Bishop, acting on the advice of an advisory board made up mainly of lay people.
3. Diocesan review boards would look at complaints and assess the diocese's response. The boards would be made up primarily of lay people.
4. Bishops must report all claims of sexual abuse of a minor to public authorities."
In my hometown State of Ohio, Bishop Anthony Pilla stated on his return from Dallas that "any priest who has abused a minor will not be returned to parish ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland."
The case of sexually abusive priests in the U.S. Catholic Church speaks to the issue of a cadre of addicted pedophile priests who committed acts of sexual crimes against scores of minors.
The hierarchy of the Church DID NOTHING to protect the over 300 victims of sexual abuse.
According to Santiago Feliciano, Jr., a lead lawyer for the Cleveland diocese for 22 years, "the Church's hierarchy" has "along standing pattern of coddling priests and brushing off their young victims."
The fact of the matter is that the Catholic Church in the United States was mostly and ONLY concerned with the stature of the Institution, protection of its financial assets; It was NOT concerned with saving the Soul of its worshippers, followers and parishioners.
What has occurred over the past decades is sexual predators/pedophiles masquerading as Holy priests in the Church. Let it be stated very clearly:
The sexual abuse of a minor by a priest is not only a sin; it is also a CRIME.
Hundreds of lawsuits filed by victims speak volumes as to the conspiracy of denial and cover-up on the part of the Church. Indeed, the Church has engaged in "a pattern of corrupt behaviour" for decades --- priests raped kids and children and the Church covered it up.
There are l95 Catholic dioceses in the United States consisting of over 65 million Catholics; sexual abuse or rape of minors by pedophile priests occurred in over l00 of these dioceses. In fact, in a survey published in The Washington Post dated 9 June 2002, results show that:
"The Roman Catholic Church has removed 2l8 priests from their positions this year because of allegations of child sexual abuse; but at least 34 known offenders remain in church jobs . At least 850 U.S. priests have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors since the early l960s and that more than 350 of them were removed from ministry before this year."
The archdiocese of New Orleans reported that "over the past 50 years, l8 of its priests Have been accused of sexual misconduct with minors."
The survey also found that "866 priests have been accused of child
sexual abuse Over the past four decades" although Sylvia Demarest, a plaintiff's lawyer in Texas, believes that "the current figure is higher than 1,500."
According to the Post survey:
"Generally, Church officials were even less willing to talk about legal settlements. The survey found only $l06million in acknowledged payments. Plaintiffs' lawyers say that the true figure is in the range of $1 billion, but that most of the settlements have been made under confidential agreements."
In 2002, four Bishops have resigned from the Church so far "amid sexual misconduct charges"; and since l990, thirteen U.S. Bishops have resigned "after allegations of sexual misconduct" along with other Bishops in Germany, Poland and Austria.
In addition, twenty-five priests have resigned from the Church in the United States after allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct of minors since January 2002.
As of this writing, a grand jury in Boston, Massachusetts, is looking into whether there is enough evidence to bring criminal charges against cardinal Bernard Law and other church leaders in the sex scandal that has engulfed the Boston Archdiocese.
The grand jury was convened to determine whether church leaders broke the law by quietly shuffling priests accused of molesting children from parish to parish, where they still had contact with youngsters.
On 20 June 2002, Rev. Paul Shanley was indicted in the Boston, Mass.
Archdiocese on ten counts of indecent assault and battery against four boys, from 1979-1989.
And in Cleveland, Ohio, a Roman Catholic priest shot himself in the head in March 2002, shortly after a woman told the diocese that he sexually abused her when she was a child. The 25-year-old woman, who is suing the Cleveland Catholic Diocese, also said that the suicidal priest "molested altar boys and altar girls in the basement of St. Patrick Catholic Church."
While current charges and/or allegations of sexual abuse in the U.S. Roman Catholic Church may appear to be startling, surprising and maybe upsetting, it must be pointed out that such sexual misconduct, scandal and deviance are all part and parcel of the long, sordid history of the Euro-Christian Roman Catholic Church.
In a book titled Unzipped: the popes bare all (l987), Arthur Frederick Ide, conducts an indepth, wide-ranging and "frank study of sex and corruption in the Vatican" in which he discovers, uncovers and exposes the hidden closet of the Euro-Christian Roman Catholic Church to the stark reality that:
"Organised religion such as Christianity has had its share of greed, inhumane actions and cynicism. The pontiffs who ruled the Chair of St. Peter's were especially good at fulfilling the corporate image of greedy, avaricious and unprincipled men who spoke one message and lived an entirely different life-style."
For example: Benedict IX was accused of "many vile adulteries and murders" and Pope Victor III describes his "rapes, murders and other unspeakable acts. His life as a Pope so vile, so foul, so execrable, that I shudder to think of it."
Clement VI was "involved in a life of luxury, voluptuous indolence, nepotism and extravagance, he dissipated the wealth of the church with the remark,' my predecessors did not know how to live'".
Martin V was "flagrantly guilty of perjury, simony and nepotism."
Alexander VI "was an erotomaniac, who lived an evil and immoral life quite openly, as he played undisguised absolutist power politics. He was guilty of avarice, cruelty, injustice, incest, seduction and duplicity."
Julius II was "addicted to unnatural vice and power politics; he drank, went into rages and bribed conclaves, relying on cunning, deceit, acts of treachery and cruelty, rather than statesmanship. His nepotism was most apparent in the arrangement of marriage into wealth of his three daughters."
Under John XII, "the Lateran degenerated into a brothel and stable. During the day, John XII rode abroad in the armour of a knight; evenings he spent in drunken carousals and gambling. He drank toasts to the devil and invoked The pagan gods and goddesses as he flung the dice."
John XII "liked to have a collection of women."
Ex-Pope John XXIII "continued a life of copulation with 'as many as he could find in an evening' of raunchy debauchery, pederasty and sodomy."
"Contemporary pontiffs have argued that the clergy must be celibate, chaste and virginal. Yet such unnatural sex practices as abstinence were never a part of the early church, nor are they supported by scripture (the Bible)."
"The first 'Pope' of Rome, Simon bar-Jonas (Peter) was married. Although married, Simon did not live with his wife."
"Most early Bishops and priests were married. For example, Pope St. Felix III (II), a Roman aristocrat, had at least two children, both of whom are buried beside him and his wife in St. Paul's basilica, close to his father who was a priest."
"The Catholic church officially permitted the clergy to marry as late as A.D. 3l5. then, the Councils of Anayra and Neocaesarea ruled that marriage was to be permitted only to those who had a rank of deacon or less...However, realizing the number of priests and Bishops who were married and fathers, the Councils modified their strong position, declaring that a married man could rise in the Church hierarchy if (l) he kept his current wife and (2) did not marry again if the wife should die. "
"Worried about sexual incontinence and to keep 'the skirts of priests and monks down' and to 'still the ardor' that ran deep in the sexual psychology of men, the Spanish Council of Elvira in A.D. 305, decreed that for those clergy who had female companions or female house-keepers, the women had to be either the sisters or the daughters of the clergy in the house of a collective (monastery, abbey, etc.)."
"Pope Damasus liked' fine ladies' and was known as the 'tickler of matrons' ears' before he proceeded to tickle 'other members' of the anatomy. This situation was lamented by St. Jerome who wrote harshly, condemning 'the abundance of sexual license' and sexual 'corruption' and 'personal debasement' that he saw in monasteries, abbeys, chantries, rectories, bishoprics---even in the papal palace."
"Augustine of Hippo, who had a whore-mistress who had given him an illegitimate son named Adeodatus, endorsed concubinage. Marriage and concubinage were better, to Augustine's thinking, than masturbation, fornication, homosexuality, or any other device." "This 'rule' applied to lay as well as clerical men."
"Pope St. Hormisadas carried on the tradition of married popes. Married before he was ordained, he had a son who would later be Pope Silverius."
"Pope Benedict III kept special records on clerical exploits. Diligently, he recorded for posterity, the orgies of Hubert, abbot of St. Maurice, who, with a troop of mistresses, desecrated monasteries and nunneries, with nocturnal orgies after a day's hunt was over."
"Pope John XI was the illegitimate son of Pope Sergius II I and the Senatrix Marozia."
"The monastic movement and its insistence on such abnormal sex acts as
chastity, continence, celibacy and virginity, pre-dates Christianity. It was rejected by many, for 'to live alone', seemed irresponsible to the development of human psychology. So repugnant was abstinence and chastity considered that Pope St. Callistus I (A.D. 2l7-222) ordained married clergy, including those men who had been married two or three
Pope Callistus also "accepted abortion as a state of nature: a natural
phenomenon since abortion can take place without artificial means."
"Concubinage, prostitution, fornication, masturbation, homosexuality and all other forms of sexual expression remained with and in the church, in spite of papal pronouncements and papers throughout its history."
"The French clergy were so preoccupied with sex in all its various forms that by the eight century it was commonly observed that priests, monks, and bishops kept 'in their beds four or five concubines or more."
"The Vatican itself became a pornocracy, with licentiousness more common than chastity for more than half of its existence. Still, the French had nothing over Pope Leo III, whose sexual appetite was insatiable."
Pope Sergius III "openly consorted with the Empress Theodora's fifteen-year-old daughter Marozia. This 'flirtation' brought into the world a son- the future Pope John XI. Rumor had it that the child by Marozia was Sergius' second choice, for he longed to impregnate the Empress in order to give concrete testimony of the 'power of the sacred over the secular. The pope over the state."
"Sergius was always on the side of sex and for those who were sexually active." Sergius was confident that his own scandalous life would go unchallenged. Theodora certainly did not mind, for it was rumored that she wanted her own lover now that her daughter was' disposed to share the papal bed."
"Valuing the length of the penis more than the length of a prayer, the rapidity of intercourse more than the fervor of discourse or penance, John XII became a scandalous model after whom youth and military men delighted in patterning themselves. John XII was totally amoral."
"Murder, adultery and sacrilege were minor offenses, for John was a violent man. John XII raped not only his two sisters but numerous women and small girls who came to St. Peter's to pray, as well as women on pilgrimage."
Pope Clement VI, "while personally devout, his sexual appetite was omnivorous. Women of all ages, sizes and dispositions excited him to the point that his mind would stray during lengthy conversations, prayers, invocations, recitations and masses."
"Of all the Popes in the Catholic Church's history, John XII and Alexander VI rank as the most lascivious and human. More interested in play than prayer, John XII was undaunted about charges of committing adultery with his father's mistress, engaging incestuously with his father's widow or turning the Lateran Palace into a brothel and stable for 'loose young nobles of both sexes.'"
"Not only did Benedict IX return the Lateran into a gambler's brothel but he was especially fond of shockingly entertaining guests by bestially copulating with bears and asses. More interested in sodomising women than engaging in traditional vaginal intercourse, Benedict IX took pains not to fall in love, but when Roman citizens rose against him and his nefarious life-style, with gossip spreading that he was engaged in necrophilic sexuality with recently sacrificed virgins, followed by necrophagous ingestion of human remains (ritual cannibalism) he fled the city."
"Irresolute and sexually lax, (Pope) Innocent VII turned his court into a colourful and barbarically loose brothel." Pope Alexander VI's "passion for nudity and sex knew no bounds."
"Open marriages of bishops with women occurred as late as ll75 in Western Europe."
And finally, "among the most bigoted institutions in the world is the Papacy."
The purpose of recounting this past history of the Euro-Christian Roman Catholic Church is to suggest that what is happening today is just a replica of yesterday. For this writer the crucial question is that, based on the Church's past and present history, why are Trinis, in particular Afrikan-Trinis, still faithful believers and followers?.
Maybe this writer is missing something.
Shem Hotep ("I go in peace").
Dr. Nantambu is an Associate Professor, Dept. of
Pan-African Studies, Kent State University, U.S.A.
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