Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Catholic snivelling may have positive effect

My first reaction to the news that the Vatican has issued a statement on priestly sex abuse that basically amounts to, "So what? All the churches are doing it!", was one of disgust. When it is revealed that one's organization is responsible for years of covering up sexual abuse, the appropriate response is not to point out that "only" 1 in 20 priests were involved in sexual abuse, or that clergy from other religions are just as guilty.

But maybe it will do some good in the long run. Clergy of all stripes are in a position of false authority, and worse than that, there is a default assumption that they are exemplars of morality, an assumption not granted to your average authority figure. So it seems quite plausible that clerical sex abuse could be a serious problem in most religions, if for no other reason than that clergy would typically have an easier time getting away with it. If the Vatican's desperate finger-pointing inspires investigation into the wrongdoings of other religions' clergy, that can only be a good thing.

I do want to highlight one particularly despicable thing from the Holy See's statement, though:

The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would "be more correct" to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.

"Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17."

I actually think it's fair to distinguish between paedophilia and ephebophilia (though both are obviously terrible crimes), but what really bothers me is the phrase "sexual orientation minority." It seems like the Vatican is trying to co-opt the language of political correctness to somehow portray the priestly perps as an oppressed minority. Maybe next they can throw in with NAMBLA...

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