Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Celibate Catholic Priests--An Interesting Twist

I am rendered almost speechless by this AP news article:
The interim head of the Springfield diocese apologized Monday for saying the Catholic sex abuse scandal stemmed from a belief once held by some priests that having sex with young men was acceptable.

Monsignor Richard S. Sniezyk said that as a seminarian and a young priest in the 1950s and early 1960s, he heard of priests who had sex with young men, but "no one thought much about it."

"They did good ministry, they were good to their people, they were kind, compassionate, but they had no idea what they were doing to these young men that they were abusing," Sniezyk told The Boston Globe on Sunday. "It was that era of the '60s - most of it took place from the mid-'60s to the early-'80s - and the whole atmosphere out there was, it was OK, it was OK to do.

"Certainly that atmosphere is not present in the church today," he said.
I am still trying to make sense of this.

Did they think that the Church's celibacy rule had been repealed? No. There were priests that married in secret, but they knew that they were breaking the celibacy rule.

Did they think that the Church's position on homosexuality had a special exemption for priests? I can't believe that any of them thought that.

Did they think that taking advantage of teenaged and younger boys was okay? Apparently so.

I am still flabbergasted that such a point of view was accepted among priests in the 1950s--at a time when homosexuality was not just illegal, but still widely regarded with disgust and horror in America, and when the pursuit of children for sex was not just illegal, but regarded as one of the great evils. The Catholic Church needs to come up with some pretty convincing explanation for why priests held such a point of view--and make sure that it never comes back.

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