Because I wrote a novel about a priest, people have been asking me about my thoughts on the most recent scandals revolving around child molestation and abuse.
My thoughts on the matter aren’t very complicated. If there is a hell, I don’t think there are enough rosary beads in the world to save the perpetrators who committed such acts or the church elders who not only covered such things up, but shuffled priests around, in essence allowing them access to a fresh crop of victims. Roast away. And, for the record, I’ll tell ye, there’ll be no butter in hell!
The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival didn’t deal with the subject of altar-boy abuse. Why? It certainly wasn’t out of respect for the Church. I’m not one of those folks who walked out of St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Sunday with panties in a wad because the Cardinal decided to broach the subject during the homily. How DARE he invade upon my one hour of pretend religiosity with this horribly real situation!?! Outside of weddings, funerals and baptisms, I haven’t set foot in a church since my first weekend in college. So I’m not “covering” for the Pope.
No. I wanted to write a comedy. And you know what isn’t funny? A faithful child of faithful parents being sent into the realm of the respected representative of God on Earth only to have said child sexually assaulted. Even less funny is that everyone from the priest up to the Pope likely knew about it. I guess I could make jokes about that, but I’ll save those for nights out with the guys. In fact, I actually did write a joke into this paragraph, but I blushed while writing it, so I deleted it. But trust me. It would be totally hilarious to anyone with no taste or common decency.
And, yes, call me a hypocrite, but I feel more comfortable making Michael Jackson jokes.
What does surprise me here is that there are a number of rather intelligent people who think this most recent scandal is going to result in sweeping changes or, more laughably, prosecution of the Pope or his resignation. Hell, I don’t even know if a Pope can resign. And, as for prosecution, who’s going to do it? I doubt that it would happen in Ireland. That country’s government may have severed the more toxic of its ties to the Church, but the roots are still deep. Even in the more secular Catholic countries in Western Europe, the politics wouldn’t play well.
And it’s not like this is the first time it’s happened. Besides which, ask yourself this? Who in the upper levels of the Church ISN’T tainted by knowledge of these things. You simply don’t get that high up in the organization without having had a hand in the cover-ups somewhere in some parish. I thought for a second that maybe a contingent from Africa might have an innocent or two, but any serious digging there and you find out that abuses in the African church are as widespread and, in some cases, worse.
There’s already been an apology. There may be a few folks thrown under the bus. But I’d be surprised if the Pope stepped down.
I do think, however, some change may come out of this. Increasingly, I’ve become convinced that the Church will change its rules on celibacy before I die. It has no choice, really. Not if it wants to continue to attract priests who aren’t rushing into its arms to run away from sexual depravity. (And please note, this scandal has nothing to do with homosexuality. If those altar boys had been altar girls, we’d be looking at the same results. Hell, the numbers might likely be higher.) Already the Church is quietly letting married Episcopalian priests convert to Catholicism while keeping both their job titles and their spouses. That might seem a little unfair to current Catholic priests, but I think it’s a matter of testing the waters.
Will that make up for past abuses? No. Nothing can. Will it be a magic cure-all, eradicating all the perverted priests? Not likely. But it could go a long way.