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When will the Catholic Church make a stand?

By Mario Giardiello

4/29/2002

As a recovering Catholic (I am no longer practicing, but still have a lot of guilt), I am appalled at Pope John Paul II’s inability to confront the problem honestly and with conviction. He needed to be much clearer, and firmer to recover the trust of his flock. Even though he acknowledged that pedophilia is a crime (how can’t he), he fell far short of remedying the problem. He fails to admit, what every person working with pedophiles already knows -- that pedophilia is the crime with the highest recidivism rate; once a pedophile, always a pedophile. Even most pedophiles would admit to this distressing statement.

The pope must take a firmer stand to assure the world that this type of thing does not keep happening. Even Cardinal George from Chicago said that he wasn’t sure what the pope’s stand on zero-tolerance is. How can any policy be anything short of zero-tolerance? Even though he says "there is no place in the priesthood for those who would harm the young" he also says that these perverts (not his words) need to be given another chance. He needs to take his head out of the bible for one instant in order to get a fresh breath of reality. I do not believe that "Christian conversion" can work miracles strong enough to promote "extraordinary change." And most pedophiles do not think it is possible either.

It is time the pope protects children and makes a stand against abuse. He needs to start caring more about protecting people rather than protecting the Church’s reputation. He says to the victims, "…I express my profound sense of solidarity and concern." He puts "solidarity" before "concern" which shows that he is more concerned about his flock staying with him, than their safety. This meeting was more about saving their asses than trying to ensure this problem never happens again. Are they more concerned about the abuse, or about the whole world finding out about it?

When will the Catholic Church acknowledge that their priests and cardinals are men of flesh, and just like politicians, cannot be held to a higher standard? It is certain that the pedophile has committed a crime, and it is equally certain that Cardinal Law is guilty of extremely bad judgment. Surely this judgment was so awful that he should not be trusted with the welfare of anyone’s children. Did he commit a crime? That is not sure unless he aided, abetted, or encouraged such behavior. However, the Church should acknowledge the severity of Cardinal Law’s actions and set an example by forcing him to step down.

There is no excuse for knowingly putting our children in harms way. It is unconscionable. Law is not above the law. The Catholic Church must enter the twenty-first century and consider progressive ideas like allowing priests to marry and acknowledging that being gay is not a crime. Although this doesn’t sound like a great alternative to the Catholic problem, does extinction sound better?




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