"Since the primary motive of the evil is disguise, one of the places evil people are most likely to be found is within the church. What better way to conceal one's evil from oneself, as well as from others, than to be a deacon or some other highly visible form of Christian within our culture? In India, I would suppose that the evil would demonstrate a similar tendency to be "good" Hindus or "good" Moslems. I do not mean that the evil are anything other than a small minority among the religious or that the religious motives of most people are in any way spurious. I mean only that evil people tend to gravitate toward piety for the disguise and concealment it can offer them"
- Martin Buber in "Good and Evil" -
Footnoted in M. Scott Peck's "People of the Lie"
We've all been hearing so much about "clericalism" as the root of the "Bishops/Priests/Cardinals having sex with young adults" scandal.
That notion has been challenged in many places. I've argued from the moment I heard the "clericalism" defense that it is a convenient thing to blame because we can't even define clericalism. We've been preaching to seminarians for 50 years "BE LESS CLERICAL" and all we've seen is the sexual crimes by clerics MULTIPLY. So maybe we need a new strategy besides telling priests and seminarians to be less "clerical"?
In reading all of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and any other accounts I can get my hands on, one thing has become clear to me - the clerics who are sexually assaulting people are the ones that BLEND IN.
The criminals are the ones that get the parents/families to TRUST THEM
Whatever clericalism is, its opposite is being able to blend in with families and be "one with the people"...BUT THAT'S EXACTLY WHAT ALMOST EVERY SEXUALLY ASSAULTING CLERIC DID...THEY BLENDED IN
No one was saying "Let's let our son Johnny go on a camping trip with "Father arrogant" and "Father entitled""
If we are going to lay this scandal at the feet of "clericalism" (which we can't even DEFINE) then the evil wins because it continues to remain hidden
Here's an idea - let's study the actual criminal clerics. What were the patterns? Some quick things we might learn scientifically:
1) What percentage of them were praying a daily holy hour?
2) What percentage of them prayed a daily rosary?
3) What percentage of them fasted once a week?
4) What percentage of them prayed their breviary faithfully?
5) What percentage of them took their annual 5 day retreat?
6) What percentage of them were striving for going to confession once a month?
You could ask them these questions in about 30 seconds. I'm sure there are other questions we could ask them as well.
I GUARANTEE you the percentages for all 6 of those questions above is VERY low. There may be other data as well.
But I am completely dismayed that we don't seem to be taking any kind of a psychological nor a scientific approach to this crisis in the priesthood, but are instead blaming some term that can't even be defined.
We are fighting an enemy that WANTS to remain hidden, even hidden from those who are guilty - to root it out is going to involve enforcing external policies that help root it out and make it easier to spot, both by the clerics themselves and by those who supervise them. As Jesus said: "Some demons can only be exorcised through prayer and fasting"