A Commentary Article

Wolves in Shepherds' Clothing
The Protection of Pedophile Priests

by Kathy Coogan

We all know the bucolic story of the Creation of Man. The Almighty created Man and Woman and so loved them that he placed them in a Paradise called The Garden of Eden. Their every need was anticipated and their every comfort was provided for. They were given just one restriction. They must not eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Little to ask of this beloved new species.

We know that eventually Eve and ultimately Adam ate from the forbidden tree. We know that when the Creator saw what they had done, Adam and Eve could not hide. The One who loved them most responded with fearful righteousness. The visual image of this decree is overwhelming. A muscular fist from which a finger points pierces the clouds and a voice thunders to the cowering sinners, "Out!"

We know that the Roman Catholic Church loves its priests. It affectionately refers to them as Shepherds, the gentle overseers of its flock. It anticipates their physical, spiritual and emotional needs and provides them with every appropriate comfort. In order to fulfill the obligation of their vocation, these priests voluntarily adopt certain vows. Ultimately, the priests are expected to do no harm to those in their care. Little to ask of the beloved priest.

To our horror, priests in Cincinnati, as well as in 46 other states have been accused of the worst form of sin, the sexual abuse of minors. However, unlike Adam and Eve, these pedophile priests have been given a place to hide. Camouflage has been provided these predators by the very Bishops who should have thundered, "Out!"

The Supreme Being, confronted with the evil sin of his beloved subjects, ousted them from Eden. The Bishops of the Church, confronted with the evil of their fellow priests didn't even recognize evil when they saw it. Or worse, recognizing it, they dispassionately, weakly failed to uproot it.

These Bishops, whose golden rings are kissed by devout Catholics everywhere, mutter instead of the difficulty of modern celibacy and of the rewards of Reconciliation. They do not comprehend that this is not a crisis of the failure of celibacy. To imply that pedophilia among priests is simply a crack in the vow of chastity or celibacy is appalling. To suggest universal forgiveness and understanding as the cure is criminal.

Pedophilia is not simply an aberrant flipside to celibacy but rather the secret bedfellow to the violent act of rape. Pedophilia, like rape, is a crime of the abuse of the powerful over the weak. Whether hetero or homosexual, it manifests in the form of forced sexual activity upon minors. To repeat: this is not an issue of the failure of celibacy, which implies consensual sex between adults. It is the act of sexual violation of children, who have neither the power, nor the legal standing to consent.

On her last day in the Garden of Eden, Eve approached the forbidden tree, knew the consequences of her choice, plucked the apple and tasted of the forbidden fruit. She then gathered gullible Adam as her willing ally. Together they would endure God's wrath.

In rectories, schools, and loving parishioners' homes, pedophile priests approached their innocent victims, knew the sin of their actions and in acts of despicable inhumanity satisfied their personal lust. Like foolish Adam, many Bishops, far removed from the pain of the victims, became co-conspirators of the original sinners. It is not enough that they plead “No contest” and render $10000 to Caesar’s court. They too, should experience God's wrath. For the clouds of denial have been parted and the Bishops should begin to hear the rolling thunder echoing, "Out! Out! Out!"

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