Sunday, October 28, 2007

Church of England to investigate child abuse

Well, this is certainly news.

In fact there is a veritable rash of news stories on the BBC website concerning the abuse of children by personnel of the CHURCH OF ENGLAND.

In 2002, when the most intensive spate yet of scandals concerning the abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests (in the USA and elsewhere) hit the headlines, it was widely alleged that the sexuality of the abusers had been warped by the discipline of compulsory celibacy. In other words, because these men had no legitimate sexual outlet, their inclinations perforce became twisted and perverted, and when they could no longer restrain themselves, they began raping children in order to ease their frustrations.

At least that is how the story goes.

Melancholicus considers that blaming celibacy for the sexual misdeeds of clerics is a disingenuous tactic used by those who wish to force the Church to revise her discipline, and to lower the high standards she expects from her clergy. This tactic is also used by those who would deflect attention from the real nature of the problem, and the profile of most clerical abusers — namely, same-sex attraction.

It is often alleged by those who blame celibacy for these horrendous crimes that permitting the clergy to take wives would, as it were a magic bullet, “solve” the problem of child sexual abuse among members of the clergy.

According to this logic, had Fr. Brendan Smyth been allowed to marry, he would never have raped so many young boys.

Leaving aside the fact that such claims are totally preposterous, they are also deeply insulting, not only to those clergy—the overwhelming majority—who do NOT abuse children, but to every other person, unmarried, or not otherwise involved in a sexual relationship.

The clergy of the Church of England have since the reign of Edward VI — 1549 to be exact — been permitted to marry. Celibacy is simply not an issue for Anglican clergy. On the logic of those vocal opponents of celibacy in the Roman Church of whom we have just been speaking, we ought not to find any hint of child sexual abuse in the Church of England, since in that church celibacy as a requirement does not exist.

How then, do these critics explain the occurrence of such crimes among not only the clergy of the Church of England, but among laymen also? Not to mention the fact that most abuse of children occurs within the family, and that there is a far higher proportionate incidence of abusers among married men than among celibates, and a higher proportionate incidence of abusers among men who experience same-sex attraction than among straight men.

Continence, self-discipline, chastity and restraint are not the cause of perversion in those who practice them; rather, they are a remedy for disordered inclinations. The sating of lust does not purify the soul of evil desires; it only increases them. And marriage, which is a holy sacrament — “an honourable estate” in the words of the Church of England’s Prayer Book — is demeaned by being reduced to the level of a mere outlet for sexual frustration.

It is also interesting that the Roman Church is not alone in its abject failure to deal with these reprobates in its midst; institutional dysfunction seems to be endemic in our time.

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