Catholic Priests and Pedophilia

...the truth about pedophilia

There is no easy way of approaching this subject, but it is necessary, because a recent "letter to the editor" in the Rockford Register Star confirms that even after so much education has been given the public, some people still misunderstand the dynamics of childhood sexual abuse.

The woman who wrote in [ Mrs. B], thought that the boys "being old enough to know better should have said, "NO", and saved the priests all this heartache". Mrs. B is a Catholic and truly loves her religion and all the priests that she has associated with in her lifetime. But then again, from her statement, I assume, she had not been personally molested by any of them.

Before I delve any deeper I do want to express my respect for the majority of the priests. Many are good men who have dedicated their lives to God. Whatever religion, I can think of no higher calling. And, before we get smug and feel secure, this is not just a problem in the Catholic church, it exists in all religions and socio-economical levels of society.

Sexual abuse is uncomfortable to talk about and there are far more cases then we like to admit to or know how to deal with. The truth is someone you know has suffered abuse at the hands of another. You may not know it. They may not wish to share it with you, nor know how to share it with you and if you are quick to blame the victims [as Mrs. B] - they won't feel safe to share it with you. And in some circumstances, they have buried it so deep in their own memories, they are unable to recall or deal it themselves [yet].

It is difficult to be a survivor. It often feels as though you are living a lie. I commend these men and women, the victims, for coming forward and sharing their tortured pasts - pasts that still affect them - evidenced by the flowing tears while re-telling their stories. It takes immense courage to admit that one has been abused - not knowing if you will be believed, or if anyone even cared. It takes a desire to make your life better. It takes a caring heart to also make things right for the others who have suffered or are currently suffering abuse. These are all signs of healing.

In answer to Mrs. B, there is a difference is being molested by a stranger and being molested by someone you love and trust. These boys were taught that priests are "men of God" who do the work of God and should be trusted in all things. Mrs. B expected young boys who are trying to understand the world, to be strong enough to withstand the pressurings of someone they had always been taught to respect and obey? Unrealistic.

Complications that come as a result of a trusted person [parent, grandparent, relative, clergy, teacher, etc.] being the abuser are intensely deep. If it is clergy, working in the name of God, one questions God's callings of clergy. And it complicates one's understanding of God's role as protector. If in the position of clergy, he is called "Father," complications with their own father may arise. If their parents taught them to trust the clergy unquestionably, then how can they trust and believe their parents anymore? Trust is essential to all healthy relationships and their ability to trust anyone has been seriously damaged. If the person is of the same sex, questions and doubts of sexual orientation or preference may arise. If the abuser is a parent, grandparent or relative, the damage is severe and future relationships are difficult without some counseling and support.

Many think, in today's society, with all the sexual information available, that no one would unwillingly be abused. It simply isn't so. An abuser may spend years gainning the trust needed to proceed with the intended abuse, thereby decreasing the chances of being reported. If the abuser can convince the victim that they wanted it and the abuser is just taking care of them, then the guilt and shame is placed on the victim. When the guilt and shame is upon the victim, there is less chance the abuse will be reported.

An abuser is a deceitful, selfish, sick individual who will stop at nothing to get what he [or she] wants. They are not concerned with the damage they cause because they convince themselves that they made the child - feel good, instructed them, befriended them, loved them, etc. And most have convinced themselves that the did not cause any damage.

The bottom line is: Our children are not protected. We must be ever vigilant - without being paranoid. We must provide education for everyone. And critical to end the secrecy of abuse - assistance for the abused, their family and friends - [however long it takes]. We must expose and punish abusers and those who harbor and cover for them [that would be the accused priests and those in charge of transferring them]. We must put the safety, health, and innocence of children above the rights of others.

Think of sexual abusers as terrorists after the innocence of our children - their most-precious gift.

Connie Eccles, CEO of ComPortOne
Survivor, Counselor, Advocate

Another note: There is an idea circulating implying - that if priests were allowed to marry these problems wouldn't exist. Not true. A man who is sexually drawn to children is not likely to be satisfied with a relationship with a mature woman. He desires sex with children. That preference may be for boys or for girls but the age and innocence are significant. If a man, who desires children, acts upon his desires, having a wife will not deter nor alter his behavior [and possibly, he will act out his sexual fantasies upon his own children.] Also, a grown man may marry to throw suspicion off himself as being a pedophile.

If you or someone you know is a victim or survivor of childhood sexual abuse, check with your area sexual abuse counseling center for help.

For the Rockford Illinois area - Rockford Sexual Assault Counseling

And may God be with you on your journey to healing.

Other articles by ComPortOne Editor, Connie Eccles
ComPortOne Home Page