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Church has some work to do

5On Tuesday this newspaper published a column written by New York Times writer Maureen Dowd entitled “He may not always be right, he1s never wrong” in which Ms. Dowd took some pretty good shots at the Catholic Church.I1ve read Ms. Dowd1s columns in the past and I believe she is an excellent journalist. However, I cannot help but feel that on the subject of pedophilia within the Catholic Church she has her own agenda.Ms. Dowd was right on in focusing upon the Pope1s tepid response to an immensely serious issue. She is rightfully disturbed that The Holy Father1s letter addressing the matter appeared to be more sympathetic to the majority of priests who are innocent of this crime than to the victims<and I understand Ms. Dowd1s ire.However, her pejorative phrases such as, “the mauled victims,” and “the plague of perversity ravaging the Catholic Church” appear to be hyperbole. The Vatican1s formal response was lacking in courage, but I fear that Ms. Dowd is heading in the wrong direction regarding how to redress the situation.The American Catholic Church has for too long swept the issue of pedophilia under the rug. On a personal basis, I1m somewhat familiar with the topic because in my prior life I managed a branch office of a major liability insurance provider for numerous Catholic archdioceses, and however limited, I have experienced the issue from a unique vantage point.I1m not going to defend the indefensible<because preying upon innocent children is perhaps the most heinous transgression that can be committed in civilized society. What makes this matter even worse is that men of the cloth used their positions of trust to perpetrate these crimes.However, we must still look at the facts. Statistics indicate that approximately 6 percent of the population at large is guilty of some form of pedophilia<approximately the same percentage that1s been uncovered within the Catholic Church; and coincidentally the same approximate percentage of pedophiles that exists in Protestant ministries.If the occurrence of pedophilia is approximately the same across the broad base of American society, what then is the issue? Pedophilia may be no worse among Catholic priests than the rest of society, so the real issue becomes one of the church failing to forthrightly address this abhorrent behavior for years.Ms. Dowd states that celibacy stifles God-given urges and therefore the church draws a disproportionate number of men fleeing confusion about their sexuality, but that argument doesn1t meet the litmus test because no litmus test has been administered. And the answers are not so simple as admitting women to the priesthood or eliminating mandatory celibacy.I believe that the church should strongly consider those options for a variety of reasons, including the simple fact that if women were allowed into the priesthood and celibacy was not mandatory, the vocation to serve one1s lord might appeal to a broader spectrum of society and the Church may have more applicants to choose (and screen) from.Is the Catholic Church1s all-male, all-celibate culture dysfunctional, as Ms. Dowd comments? Perhaps yes, but the percentage of priests guilty of pedophilia vis–vis the general population does not support her argument.What is obvious, however, is that the Catholic Church has acted as if it1s above the law<both state and moral. There has been little or no accountability within its hierarchy regarding this matter.If a child were molested by a teacher at a local grade school and the principal simply reassigned the teacher to another homeroom, and the teacher then sexually abused another child in the new classroom, both the teacher and the principal would be charged with a felony.But this is not the case in the Catholic Church. If it were, at the very least Cardinals Edward Egan and Bernard Law would have been relieved of their duties. But the Pope and his advisers in Rome haven1t done anything in the matter but to issue an ineffectual letter.When I was in the fourth grade I recall asking Sister Mary Judith why it was necessary to donate money to the Catholic missions when our parish church had a gold tabernacle, chalices with precious stones imbedded, and opulent accouterments for the altar. Somehow that dichotomy was a bit incongruous to a 10-year old.I never received a satisfactory answer to my question, but I think the church had better come up with a satisfactory an answer to the questions surrounding pedophilia or it will disenfranchise more than just a 10-year-old boy.Americans admire honesty and courage. The Catholic Church has displayed neither in this matter.Butch Mazzuca of Singletree writes a weekly column for the Daily.


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