The Delicate Dance of the Catholic Church

by Luke Muehlhauser on April 17, 2010 in Ethics

So far, the Catholic Church has said that its widespread sexual abuse of children can be be blamed on gays, Jews, hippiessecularism, porn, and TV. Do they realize how desperate and silly their dancing looks? The Church’s handling of this situation has been shameful in almost every way possible, from church-mandated cover-ups to the continued refusal of the heartfelt apology and systematic change that is so badly needed.

Even if the Church only cares about its reputation, it should still go the route of genuine apology and systematic change. Their cold-hearted approach to a scandal about the sexual molestation of our children is really, really bad PR.

pope and children

Update: This post originally said that maybe celibacy might have something to do with it. But then somebody pointed out that I can’t produce any evidence for that empirical claim, so… gosh darn it! I had to retract my claim. I don’t have time to become an expert on this, but that won’t stop me from lambasting the Church’s  despicable actions.

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{ 47 comments… read them below or add one }

Brett Bavar April 17, 2010 at 9:58 pm

There must be something more to it. If your position required you to be celibate, what would you do? Would you be able to remain celibate? If not, who would you turn to for discreet sexual gratification? A child? Why not just have a secret affair with an adult?

I’m not convinced that a vow of celibacy would be enough to lead any sane adult to commit child rape.

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Chris Hallquist April 17, 2010 at 10:04 pm

Love the pic. I’m waiting for the day when a major movie director admits to using Ratzinger as inspiration for the makeup on his latest movie’s Big Bad.

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lukeprog April 17, 2010 at 10:14 pm

Brett,

Goodness, no! Celibacy isn’t the SOLE cause of child molestation in the Catholic Church.

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Zeb April 17, 2010 at 10:23 pm

Luke, do you know of any evidence of correlation, let alone causation, between celibacy and child molestation?

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tom April 17, 2010 at 10:33 pm

“Why not just have a secret affair with an adult?”

Here’s one possible answer:
For the same reason that many alcoholics resort to drinking a bottle of Listerine every day. A combination of repressing powerful impulses and desperate rationalization can cause people to satisfy impulses in very odd ways. The alcoholic stops drinking alcholic beverages and convinces himself that he’s not cheating by drinking mouthwash. The catholic pedophile abstains from normal sexual relations and convinces himself that he’s not breaking his vow of celibacy when he molests children.

Given how different the physical and psychological experience is from the usual adult sexual activity, it’s easy to see how a combination of overwhelming impulse (and the emotional effect of repressed sex drive) and rationalization might yield this kind of thinking.

I’m not prepared to defend this view as the correct explanation, but it strikes me as likely, or at least plausible.

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Zeb April 17, 2010 at 10:37 pm

By the way, I ask because I studied under Philip Jenkins, on of the academic experts on the scandal, and at the time he made a strong case that child molestation and pedophilia were no more common in the Catholic Church than any other comparable institution, and that the particular nature of the church and ingrained anti-Catholicism were heavily biasing media coverage of the scandal.

I mention that to say that Jenkins would be a great guest for CPBD. He’s a very good scholar of religious studies and has written on a variety of topics pertinent to the current state of Christianity in the world today. He seems to have strong views that mostly fall on the conservative side, but in conversation I found him to be very open, inquisitive, and insightful. I don’t know if he would even remember me, but if you are interested in interviewing him I’d be happy to send him a recommendation for what it’s worth.

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lukeprog April 17, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Zeb,

You could be right, but that doesn’t change the absurdity of blaming it on TV or gays or Jews, nor does it alleviate the need for a genuine change and systematic change. Revoking the official policy of covering up abuse would be a start, for example.

Would you please post your guest recommendation over here so I can record it properly? I’ll get confused if people post recommendations on other threads, and then later go back and post it on that page, so that some recommendations are counted doubly.

Thanks!

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snafu April 18, 2010 at 1:41 am

As you say, it’s a delicate dance. Actually, I’m not convinced celibacy is the cause (or even the major cause). But I believe relaxing the discipline of celibacy would massively alleviate the problem. Is that a contradiction? No: what celibacy does is entice people with weird pathological tendencies into the priesthood…and there’s such a shortage of priests these days that for decades, the Catholic Church just sucked them up.

I’m perfectly open to evidence that enforced celibacy *causes* a tendency to abuse minors, but I haven’t seen any. That’s an empirical question, and would draw on studies of celibate people across the population, not just priests.

It almost goes without saying that blaming it on secularism / Jews / werewolves etc is just crazy, and is bad-publicity-type-crazy as well. Ditto for the monstrous institutional cover-up, where the only option is a public mea culpa of much larger scale than has been done so far.

Some bloggers (e.g. Hallquist) have said this is the beginning of the end for the Church. That’s probably overstated: I see local parishes ticking along quite nicely still. Older parisioners hang their heads and tut about it privately, but carry on going to church. Younger parisioners were massively likely to lapse regardless of the abuse scandal. However, in the UK at least, you get access to good state (free) education by being a Catholic parent, so they do tend to baptise their offspring further down the line. We’ll see what happens to numbers in coming years.

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Beelzebub April 18, 2010 at 1:47 am

When you get that feeling you need sexual healing. Unfortunately, the CC even thinks masturbation is sinful, so even that avenue of relief is blocked to them, or if they give in to it, they’ve already marked themselves as dirty. Imagine the urge continuing to build, week after week, month after month, year after year…no relief, no sex, no porn, no masturbation, the constant messing with your mind. Pretty soon, that choirboy starts to look pretty good. It’s torture; no wonder many of them snap and go perv.

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Brap Gronk April 18, 2010 at 3:47 am

I honestly don’t expect much from an institution that believes in transubstantiation.

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Erp April 18, 2010 at 5:42 am

I don’t think mandatory celibacy for clergy is a major reason for this problem. There are plenty of priests who get around it with consensual relationships with other adults (male or female). Also other denominations that do not have required celibacy have also had problems with child rape and sexual molestation and cover up (e.g., Episcopal Church/Anglican church, in particular in church run schools many of them boarding schools). However many of them faced up to the problem back in the 1980s and 1990s and set up policies then to minimize both abuse and cover up (e.g., one strike and you are out of the clergy and handed over to the police).

A bigger reason is the automatic and overwhelming trust given in many denominations to people who are clergy combined with, in some denominations, by the organization trusting their clergy far more than their laity and by a desire of both clergy and laity to protect the good name of their denomination from any scandal.

Churches without strong (or any) denominational oversight of ministers may also be prone to the same problem. Minister A in church X is suspected or known to abuse children (or seduce distraught congregants which may not be illegal but is still ethically wrong, like a therapist seducing a patient). Those in the know in congregation X quietly give him walking papers and he goes to church Y. Repeat.

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Lorkas April 18, 2010 at 8:50 am

he made a strong case that child molestation and pedophilia were no more common in the Catholic Church than any other comparable institution

This may be so, but two points seem relevant.

1) Other institutions (that is, institutions comprised of sane individuals) will go after the perpetrator of the crime, not the whistle blower. Imagine the state of mind you must be in for a child to come to you and tell you that one of your co-workers abused them, and the first reaction you have is anger at the child for speaking up about it. The Catholic Church’s rage is systematically focused on the victims and those who defend them, instead of on the priests who abused those children in the first place.

2) The Catholic Church presents itself as the representatives of the perfectly moral creator of the universe. When someone has the gall to tell me constantly that I can’t be moral because I don’t have the Holy Spirit, they’d damn well better be picture-fucking-perfect in their behavior. This is like someone giving you a lecture on good behavior toward others while mugging you and beating you up (then saying that he mugged you because of homosexuals and threatening to torture you for eternity if you tell anyone).

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tom April 18, 2010 at 9:38 am

This may be so, but two points seem relevant….

Right but the context here is not criticism or defense of pedophilia in the church, but rather a conversation about whether mandated abstinence is correlated/causally linked to pedophilia.

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Bryce April 18, 2010 at 10:44 am

I’ll grant for the sake of the argument that perhaps celibacy was a factor in some cases. But it seems unlikely to me that it can be a leading factor, when the greatest rates of pedophilia occur amongst family (and relations tied to those), typically non-celibate uncles, step-fathers, and live-in boyfriends. If I was going to draw any correlation, it wouldn’t be by the lack of sexual stimulation or sexual repression (as if that’s the worst thing EVAR), or, that more sexual release means a higher likelihood of pedophilia.

And of course, the scandal can hardly be clarified in a single comment, so I won’t try. I will note that the Church in its official dogma says all men are sinners who need salvation.

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 11:45 am

I can’t believe the amount of baseless bullshit coming from people who are usually so careful in their thinking and speaking. The question of whether celibacy increases the frequency of child abuse is an empirical question to be answered by the sciences, not by arm chair speculators whose whole basis is anti-Catholic bias and lurid imagination. Until the sciences have answered that question, any accusations that Catholic clergy tend to be more criminally psychotic than other similar cohorts and the population generally, or accusations that aspects of Catholicism tend to lead to sexual perversion and child abuse, are equivalent to the same kind of moral bigotries that have been held against homosexuals and atheists.

And although we can almost certainly point out interventions that Church and civil officials could have and should have known to use that would have reduced the incidence of child molestation by priests, as far as I know there has yet to be empirical proof that repeat offense and prolonged access to children was more of a problem in the Church and in other similar institutions or society in general. I would be very disheartened, but not too surprised to find that abuser priests did tend to have more victims than other abusers because of the way they were handled. But let’s see the numbers and methodology of study. However the main reason the problem looks so big in the Church, other than sensational appeal and anti-Catholic bias in the media, is that the Church kept way better records and is much bigger than any other institution that deals a equivalent number of children, so lawyers and civil officials have had a much easier time tracking down the abuse than in other cases. Also, and I’m not whining here, but there is a lot more financial incentive for civil lawyers to track down abuse in the Catholic Church.

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 11:46 am

Luke:

…that doesn’t change the absurdity of blaming it on TV or gays or Jews, nor does it alleviate the need for a genuine change and systematic change. Revoking the official policy of covering up abuse would be a start, for example.

I totally agree, but would you please back up or apologize for the implicit claim that Catholic priests are more abusive than others and that it’s because of particular Catholic beliefs?

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 11:46 am

Tom:

The catholic pedophile abstains from normal sexual relations and convinces himself that he’s not breaking his vow of celibacy when he molests children. I’m not prepared to defend this view as the correct explanation, but it strikes me as likely, or at least plausible.

Ok, we’ll file that right next to the plausible explanations of why black people can dance better, women are meant to stay home and raise the children, and Jews run the banks.

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 11:47 am

snafu:

No: what celibacy does is entice people with weird pathological tendencies into the priesthood…and there’s such a shortage of priests these days that for decades, the Catholic Church just sucked them up.

Replace “celibacy” with “sodomy”, “priesthood” with “gay lifestyle”, “priests” with “gay sex partners”, and “Catholic Church” with “gay culture” and you sound just like the religious right. The point is, do you have evidence for this claim, or is it just insulting speculation?

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 11:58 am

Beelzebub:

Imagine the urge continuing to build, week after week, month after month, year after year…no relief, no sex, no porn, no masturbation, the constant messing with your mind. Pretty soon, that choirboy starts to look pretty good. It’s torture; no wonder many of them snap and go perv

I don’t blame you for having no idea what priests are like and how they manage their sexuality with regard to their vows since not many people get to know priests as personal friends rather than community figures. But the picture you paint is ridiculous and naive. As someone who has known many priests, lived with a few, and incidentally as a person who remained a virgin until marrying at age 30, I can tell you that celibates manage their sexuality like everyone else – they muddle through. But the desire to rape prepubescent children, as far as I know, is a deep psychological, perhaps neurological malfunction, it’s not the result of self-applied repression. Do you really think horniness can lead to insane predatory sexual criminality?

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 12:10 pm

Lorkas,

As to 1), I would hope that it is true that other institutions from the 50s to the 80s did go after perpetrators, but is it the case that they did? Were children safer in schools, in locker rooms, at scout camps, or at home than they were in sacristies during the period when these abuse cases happened? I’d really like to know. If the focus on the Catholic Church is as unfair as I suspect, the biggest problem is not how the Church is being harmed, it’s how all victims of other abusers are being disregarded. I’m afraid pedophilia is not a Catholic problem, it’s a societal problem, and we need to bring justice to all past victims and protection to all present and future children. I’m afraid the focus on the Church is a distraction. I agree the rest of what you say here though.

As to 2), so you’re admitting an anti-Catholic bias in your response to pedophilia cases? You don’t feel as much outrage about moral relativists raping children?

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lukeprog April 18, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Zeb,

No, I think celibacy is a plausible contributing factor to Catholic sex abuse.

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othereric April 18, 2010 at 1:29 pm

celibacy is apparently one highly contestable elephant in the room, and the other may be that a wealthy and highly organized brotherhood of men who’ve already proven dedicated to hiding and protecting their pedophile membership who are each allowed to rape hundreds of different children over many years with minor, if any, punishment, may actually be attractive to pedophiles.

perhaps that’s a scandalous suggestion, but i can’t really imagine why it would be.

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Beelzebub April 18, 2010 at 1:46 pm

Zeb,
Defending Tom’s contention that priests self-deceive themselves into thinking molestation is “okay,” one “lurid” account I have read records that a priest actually got a teen pregnant. When asked why he didn’t use a condom the priest said it was against Church law. This is certainly anecdote, but I’d request Zeb to get into the mind of someone who has raped a girl but still thinks he’s following Church law. ????

As for the requirement for sexual release and dealing with horniness — my opinion is that it’s highly variable among men. Some men will almost literally go insane if deprived from some kind of sexual expression, others can handle it. This was noted even by Augustine, who was promiscuous in his youth and later complained that no man could resist sexual urge — the reason he thought sexuality was the work of Satan and inherently evil.

As far as I know there is no metric applied to libido, outside counting sexual liaisons or the number of times per week a man needs to choke the chicken — options not available and certainly not applied by the Church. The facts are apparent though: priests are susceptible to sexual urges and there are currently inadequate provisions to deal with them.

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lukeprog April 18, 2010 at 2:11 pm

othereric,

Good point.

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tom April 18, 2010 at 2:12 pm

Zeb-
File it where you want. Luke suggested that mandated celibacy plays a causal role in some cases of pedophilia. Brett gave a reply intended to undermine the possibility of such an explanation. I responded to Brett with a plausible account of how such an explanation could go, in light of his response.
The context and the content of my original post make it perfectly clear that I’m not attempting to do any more than that: I’m not making a claim about actual correlations between celibacy and pedophilia, nor am I trying to win an argument about one causing the other.
As it happens, I agree with your claim that the issue of a link between celibacy and pedophilia is an empirical one. If the raw numbers show no correlation, then it becomes much more difficult to argue for causation, and most of the speculation that I (or anyone else) offered becomes moot.

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tom April 18, 2010 at 2:25 pm

Zeb,
Defending Tom’s contention that priests self-deceive themselves into thinking molestation is “okay,”

Hell, if two people took it to be my contention that this is what’s actually going on, maybe my original post wasn’t clear enough. I still can’t see it, but apologies if that’s the case.

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anon April 18, 2010 at 2:26 pm

Here is Zeb’s test for whether or not priestly celibacy causes molestation:

Consider the frequency of molestation among priestly “celibates”. Then consider the frequency of molestation among everybody else. If the first number is relevantly bigger than the second number, then that is a reason to think priestly celibacy is a cause of molestation. If not, then not.

As far as I can tell, this is the best test put forward in the comments so far.

Zeb says that the frequency of molestation among catholic priests isn’t higher than it is among the general population. If he’s right about that, then that is a reason to doubt that priestly celibacy is a cause of molestation.

I don’t know a lot about this topic; but to my mind, and to echo what some people have already said, what makes this especially bad and worse than what happens in other institutions is all of the cover up and seeming lack of repentance that has gone on by the higher ups. Of course, whatever the frequency, molestation is very very bad.

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lukeprog April 18, 2010 at 2:50 pm

Zeb,

I thought about it some more and changed my mind. Thanks for your criticism.

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Beelzebub April 18, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Tom,
My apologies, but I think what I mistook for your contention is quite likely :-) I can’t imagine what else might be going on in a priest’s head.

anon says:

Zeb says that the frequency of molestation among catholic priests isn’t higher than it is among the general population. If he’s right about that, then that is a reason to doubt that priestly celibacy is a cause of molestation.

I suggest that even given that that is true, this is a wrong conclusion. The general population is the general population. This is like saying we should see the same rate of accident in safety experts as we do in the general population. These people are supposed to be priests! for God’s sake.

I also note that this sordid affair is not over, and the relevant statistics have not settled to stable values.

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 5:23 pm

Beelzebub:

The facts are apparent though: priests are susceptible to sexual urges and there are currently inadequate provisions to deal with them.

You are certainly correct there. The fact is though that a priest will deal with his sexual urges the same way a guy who’s “saving himself for marriage” or a guy who is living in a sexless marriage will – self control, masturbation, porn, affairs, prostitutes, and very rarely, sexual predation. There was a recent This American Life episode about the scandal, and part of it described the anecdotally high rate of long term affairs between priests and adults. I’m sure any other former or present conservative Christians here understand the complex relationship a (perhaps hopefully temporary) celibate has with sexuality and the various guilted or guiltless outlets for it short of raping children. As you say the affair is not over, and the whole issue of pedophilia and teen-adult sex seems to be surprisingly understudied. It may be the case that celibates do prey on children more, or that there tend to be more victims per pedophile priest than per other pedophile. I want good, solid well established data to know that.

Thanks for hearing my points Luke. It’s so encouraging to find a place like this with open minded “opponents”, and I do my best to return the favor.

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Zeb April 18, 2010 at 5:31 pm

I meant to include the link the the This American Life episode. http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/404/enemy-camp-2010

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lukeprog April 18, 2010 at 5:48 pm

Huh. Interesting.

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anon April 18, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I suggest that even given that that is true, this is a wrong conclusion.The general population is the general population.This is like saying we should see the same rate of accident in safety experts as we do in the general population.These people are supposed to be priests! for God’s sake.I also note that this sordid affair is not over, and the relevant statistics have not settled to stable values.  

Contrast two questions about priestly celibacy:

Q1: Does priestly celibacy cause molestation?

Q2: Is it a big disappointment if priests molest as much as everybody else rather than much less or not at all?

I thought we were talking about Q1. I thought that if you accept the Zeb test and if it turns out that the frequency of molestation by celibates is the same rate as the frequency of molestation by everyone else, then the answer to Q1 is probably “No.”

But even if all that were true, then answer to Q2 is still “Yes.” Priests should be examples for us and be inspiring
moral folks. If they molest at the same rate as everybody else that is disappointing.

The same goes for your safety expert example. If the question is whether or not being a safety expert causes car crashes and you look and see that safety experts crash at exactly the same rate as everybody else, then it would seem that being safety expert doesn’t cause crashes. But it is still disappointing.

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Tristan D. Vick April 18, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Sure you can test their celibacy stamina….

Just do a survey of when the last time they masturbated was, and whether they fantasized about a woman, a child, or someone of the same sex.

And remind them, that if they lie about their answer, they will burn an eternity in hell.

Simple as that!

Let’s not kid ourselves, celibacy has a lot to do with it. Anyone who is a biological human can figure this out on their own.

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Beelzebub April 19, 2010 at 12:29 am

The same goes for your safety expert example. If the question is whether or not being a safety expert causes car crashes and you look and see that safety experts crash at exactly the same rate as everybody else, then it would seem that being safety expert doesn’t cause crashes. But it is still disappointing.  

Being a safety expert is “supposed” to lower one’s rate of accident, thus it can reasonably be concluded that if safety experts have the same accident rate as the general public, being a safety expert may raise a person’s accident rate, that is, up to the mean rate. The other possibility is that “safety expert” is a bogus qualification. Turning to the Catholic example, we can conclude that being a priest may raise the probability of being a molester, unless the quality of being a priest has no bearing on one’s moral fortitude. Basically you have your choice between two bad conclusions.

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Reginald Selkirk April 19, 2010 at 4:38 am

So far, the Catholic Church has said that its widespread sexual abuse of children can be be blamed on gays, Jews, hippies, secularism, porn, and TV.

Precisely. It is the fault of secular Jewish gay hippies who watch porn on TV.

But seriously, the coverup is worse than the crime. A few pedophiles could show up in any profession or any organization. It is the systematic shuffling of offenders to new parishes where they will repeat their crimes which is the most offensive aspect of the current scandal.

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Reginald Selkirk April 19, 2010 at 4:45 am

Oh, and that threat to excommunicate victims who broke the code of silence was a really really bad policy.

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Baal April 19, 2010 at 8:10 am

Seeing how many different cultures around the world and throughout history had institutionalized pederasty, I have wondered whether there is something about certain types of social structure that can encourage this cross-generational sexual activity (often there seem to be more cases of ephebophilia than paedophilia proper).
While there were many differences, it was common in cultures that depreciated women as more a means to an end, to have children, rather than persons capable of relationships of true companionship.
The Greeks saw it as perfectly acceptable to have sexual relations with beardless youths while at the same time looking down on male same-sex couples closer in age.

In many ways the Catholic Church seems to preserve many more archaic social structures, while resisting changes that we consider modern. It is rigidly hierarchical and patriarchal. It is almost a living relic of Greek and Roman mores.
I doubt there were a greater percentage of what we classify as homosexual men in ancients times, so all those men who engaged in pederastic relationships in Greece, Florence, Japan and among the indigenous peoples of North and South America, on all continents actually, can’t have all been just those small percentage of a homosexual orientation.

I’m deliberately staying away from calling it ‘natural’, but I think it is highly likely that under certain circumstances the propensity for men to feel attractions towards adolescents and to seek sexual satisfaction from them could have something to do with the psychological makeup of men. Add lack of respect for women and paternalism, and it seems that it would make it much more likely that this kind of thing will happen.
I suppose what I’m getting at is that human sexuality is not as rigid as it is often taken to be these days. And the way we see children and adolescents has changed a lot over the last few centuries, but those changes have been more cultural than biological.
Along with changing attitudes towards women and other cultures who were often looked upon as inferior, we value the personhood of children and young people more, in the Western world especially. Religions in the West can act as havens for older views of humankind. They often see it as a virtue to resist what the rest of us see as progress.
Look at not just Catholicism, but Orthodox Judaism and dominant forms of Islam.
There is a form of pederasty that has been maintained almost unchanged in Afghanistan to this day, with tribal chieftains keeping young boys like the catamites of old.
Personally, my greatest problem with religion has always been more with its ability to ossify societies and resist change than anything else.
It is such an emotive subject that it can be difficult to talk about rationally.
It also seems to be a greater problem for many people that it involved young boys. Almost as if it weren’t such a problem that so many young girls were victims too.

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Beelzebub April 19, 2010 at 12:28 pm

I have wondered whether there is something about certain types of social structure that can encourage this cross-generational sexual activity (often there seem to be more cases of ephebophilia than paedophilia proper).

According to an article I read there seems to be a fundamental difference between the ephebophile and the true pedophile. The pedophile (sexual interest in pre-pubescent boys or girls) has no interest in sexual relations with mature individuals and no amount of therapy seems to make any change; they’re wired differently than other “normal” adults. I would assume that no period in history considered them normal.

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Baal April 19, 2010 at 2:24 pm

I would assume that no period in history considered them normal.

I wasn’t trying to make any claim about paedophilia being normal in any society.
I wasn’t clear enough though and should have written that, of the cases of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, only around 20% seem to have been with boys below the age of ten. On top of that, we don’t have any idea how many of the offenders were diagnosed as true paedophiles because of the Church’s cover-ups, or even to what extent that was investigated.
Of those who do offend against pre-pubescent children, some are clinically considered regressive paedophiles who offend due to psychological stressors, and aren’t considered true paedophiles, of the type who are only attracted to young children.
When it comes down to it, we don’t really have that much real data on what went on, and it will probably be a long time before all the facts come out, if ever.
This, to my mind, is the worst part of the Catholic Church’s approach to it all. Putting the reputation of the Church before and above the welfare of the children it seemed to act more to sweep it under the carpet. Without any real effort to understand what actually went on and why, it makes it so much more difficult to put measures in place to stop it happening again in the future.

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Beelzebub April 20, 2010 at 1:48 am

Sorry, I just finished with that sentence as a last statement and wasn’t implying that it countered anything you wrote. I was just noting that, inappropriate as it is, relations with adolescents is probably a fundamentally different psychological mechanism than prepubescent pedophilia, which I assume is a deviance that has never been socially acceptable in any form.

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Hermes April 20, 2010 at 5:40 am

These people are supposed to be priests! for God’s sake.

Well, of course, yet their jobs aren’t to make people better and more moral, so why should they themselves be moral? Their jobs are to get followers. Pretenses to morality are just to draw them in, while ignoring the immoral ideas still contained in the religion that is to be followed.

A claim of religious people and especially leaders is greater morality. The practice shows that this is a facade, a presumption of morality.

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Baal April 20, 2010 at 10:21 am

which I assume is a deviance that has never been socially acceptable in any form.

While you might assume that, the following video features a Bahraini Women’s rights activist Ghada Jamshir atacking Shari’ah courts and the fatwas of clerics who, among other things, authorise sexual contact with infant girls.
It is subtitled in English and around 2:10 you can see Ghada spelling out what ‘pleasure from a little girl’ means. The reaction from the guy interviewing her is to ask her to not go into detail, and not to deny that such fatwas exist.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KXw0qYUaTcM

It isn’t just a problem with religions either, as I have heard that there is Japanese manga featuring children as sex objects that is on sale in public bookstores and you will sometimes see men reading such material on public transport. It’s not considered child pornography, which was only banned in Japan in 1999.

Basing your assumptions on how attitudes to sex with children have evolved in the West might be more a cultural bias than anything else.

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Pat April 22, 2010 at 6:24 am

There is no reason to suspect that pedophilia in the Catholic church is not set up to accommodate the practice just as the Afghanistan tradition reveals in the new PBS documentary on its Dancing Boys. Males deprived of natural resources of female sexuality will obviously find and solicit substitutes.

Human nature is not bound by philosophical differences in such basic needs in order to justify them. Philosophy works for soliciation as well as any other deception to perpetuate the advantageous fraud.

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Zeb April 23, 2010 at 4:59 pm
Baal April 24, 2010 at 8:00 am

Zeb,
As in the case of the Catholic Church, the Scouts kept secret files instead of going to the police with the evidence.
I’m sure you can’t disagree with the fact that an essential part of protecting children from predators is exposing the offenses to the light of day. And not finding rationales for hiding the evidence.

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Zeb April 24, 2010 at 11:54 am

Yes of course I do agree. I’m afraid that keeping quiet and sweeping it under the rug might have been a common approach at the time when these abuses occured. For organizations that didn’t even keep secret files we may never know how pervasive sexual abuse was.

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