Sunday, June 20, 2010

Satan and the Pope

On June 1, 2010, Pope Benedict XVI ended the Roman Catholic Church's "Year for the Priest" with an historic mass in St. Peter's Square, Rome.  During his homily, he asked for God's forgiveness for the seemly endless revelation of sexual abuse perpetuated by a multitude of priests on young male parishioners.  (I wonder how long it has been going on. We only know of what has been reported in our time.)  He asked forgiveness for the individual priests and for the church at large.  However he stopped short of accepting responsibility by either the church, it's repressive dogma or the actual perpetrating priests. Instead he cited "the enemy" Satan as the culpable party in this horrendously common problem which came to light a decade ago here in the United States and much more recently throughout Europe.   

(Satan!  Really?  I will NEVER understand how churches of so many denominations subscribe to the dogma of a character barely mentioned in the Bible and elevate him to the level of the Almighty God in which they purport to believe.  In fact, most of what people cite about Satan and Hell is from LITERATURE.  Read Dante's Inferno.  How did the church wind up using  a book of fiction to inform canon?)

It would take a book of writing to attack the dogma, so that won't be done here. Instead let's look at a little bit of history and then propose a theory of causation for the pervasive issue (which must be dealt with properly by the Church as well as the countries in which the offending parishes reside). 

Celibacy was not always required for priests.  One of the events which caused the oppressive and unrealistic rule is based on the fact that priests were begetting children with parish women while their husbands were off fighting the crusades. Obviously this was a problem that needed to be dealt with but to deny the nature of a man's humanness with an all-or-nothing rule based on a handful of obscure scriptural citations and the unsubstantiated belief that Jesus led a chaste life, was not the best answer. (There is evidence in the apocryphal books of the Nag Hammadi to the contrary.)  And since the final version of the Bible we know of today was determined through political debate at the Council of Nicea also lends to the notion that corruption may have played a role in canon as in all activities of the body politic.  The Bible is first and foremost a political book aimed at the goal of crowd control. There had to be a better answer.  

The theory of causation about which I have thought for many years is this:  The Church's reactionary and phobic view of homosexuality created the problem and is thereby culpable.  It is my belief that homosexuality is genetic, hardwired in to a person's make-up. I cannot imagine how painful and conflicted it would be for a young man in the throes of puberty, finding himself naturally attracted to other young men and living in an oppressive environment indoctrinating him that what he is experiencing is not only sinful but the work of Satan or demonic possession.  The fear and self-hatred that would ensue for these young men in devout households must have been unbearable.  Being emotionally adolescent and unable to discuss their feelings with anyone,  what could he do?  He could shut down and forcibly repress his sexuality and attempt to purge himself of his self-perceived sinfulness and seek refuge in the protection of the priesthood or monastic life. For some this repression might last a lifetime, but for others their sexuality may percolate back up into their consciousness.  It is my contention, that when repressed feelings emerge, they do so at the same emotional state at which they were repressed.  Therefore, these now older adult men, who are responsible to spend time with young men as youth leaders and altar boys find themselves attracted to them.  Why?  Because sexually and emotionally they are dealing with the issue as pubescent boys.  Some of these men then act on their newly surfaced sexuality. They act because the sexual drive is one of the strongest human drives and they feel compelled to the point that they cannot deny it, regardless of the knowledge that what they are doing is wrong. This is not what they should do of course because in so doing, they rob young men who trust them of their innocence which is absolutely unconscionable.  Instead, they should seek counseling outside the Church and an eventual exit from the priesthood so that they can live fully realized lives and seek adult partners with whom to share their liberated selves. 

It is my ardent, though admittedly unlikely hope that the Church would wake up and begin to accept the fact that the very God in which it says it believes created homosexuals in his/her image just like s/he created heterosexuals in his/her image.  If that happens, then true healing for the harmed young men, the priests and society at large could truly begin. It seems that believers don't really understand the part of the book of Genesis where the creation occurs and God pronounces it all GOOD.