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Pedophilia among catholic priests

Homosexual priests, celibacy. Married priests.

Rama Coomaraswamy, MD


It behooves the priest to be most vigilant, to live by the spirit, to excel all other leaders of men in solicitude and zeal, to guard by day and by night the army and the camp, to work unto exhaustion.
St. John Chrysostom

"The priest who is responsible for pedophilia commits spiritual murder. He who rejects the Church because of this scandal commits spiritual suicide."
St. Francis de Sales

There is a great deal of talk about how marriage would solve the problem of both homosexuality and pedophilia among the clergy. First of all, with regard to homosexuality, it is clear that marriage is not at issue as the innumerable examples of married men engaging in homosexuality proves. If this is true for homosexuality, it is also true for pedophilia.

While homosexuality is offensive to God, and hence to man, pedophilia is of a slightly different order. The fundamental impulse in pedophilia is not so much sexual pleasure as the destruction of innocence. The victim is for ever scared and only with difficulty can come to accept the sexual act as both sacred and beautiful. This is far worse when someone who purports to be a representative of Christ (be he the child's father or the priest) is the perpetrator.

Current psychological treatments hold out little realistic hope for "curing" the pedophiliac. I think the reason for this is that the "disease" is not so much of the psyche as it is of the heart.1 The perpetrator of pedophilia has allowed evil to enter into his heart - for how else could he wish even in part to corrupt the innocent - and the only cure of the heart is a genuine conversion. By conversion, I do not mean joining any group or society, religious or otherwise, but rather a "change of heart" whereby evil is as it were ejected. Psychological treatments may encourage an individual to understand his motivations, but in general - there are of course exceptions - tends to ignore the problem of evil, and certainly do not aim at true conversion.

What is clear however, is that once a priest has indulged in this most horrible of crimes, he is no longer able or suitable to serve as a priest. This does not mean that God cannot forgive him, for indeed God could even forgive David who murdered and committed adultery. It does not mean that such an individual is cut off from divine grace (only he can refuse to accept grace), or that he cannot achieve high levels of sanctity. It simply means that he can no longer serve as an altar Christus - another Christ = within the community. Justice demands that he be defrocked.

Returning for a moment to homosexuality, which as mentioned above is offensive to both God and man. This does not justify our discriminating against them in the public forum. However, one is fully justified in protecting one's children from their influence (and the influence of school programs which strongly push their agendas). Just as one would not let a leper into one's home, so also, one would not encourage close relationships with homosexuals with one's children. One should remember that both in the Old Testament and the New, the homosexual is clearly condemned. In the Old Testament he was to be killed, and in the new, sodomy is listed as one of the four sins which God is said to punish in this life - along with murder, abortion and defrauding a workman of his just wage. The fact that we take none of these "sins" seriously is quite beside the point. But how can we take them seriously if we don't take God seriously.

One must be careful as to how one defines pedophilia. Older definitions such as Webster's or the Dictionary of Psychology characterize it as sex with children. Current psychiatric texts tend to define it as sex with a pre-pubertal child - usually under 13 - by someone who is at least 5 years older (Ismund Rosen, Sexual Deviation Oxford, 1996). It is however well known that young men who are post-pubertal are often confused and unsure of their sexual orientation and hence vulnerable to abuse. To consider homosexual relationships with such individuals distinct from pedophilia is a matter of semantics (ephelbophilia) rather than reality.

One might well ask why the current spate of Pedophilia and Homosexuality among the Catholic clergy. While sin is nothing new, the increasing prevalence among those who are meant to be representatives of Christ on earth is truly shocking. Here one inevitably falls into the realm of opinion - and for what it is worth, I suspect it has a great deal to do with the change in Sacramental practice. The new mass - the Novus Ordo Missae - no longer provides grace ex opere operato. However devoutly said, it no longer provides the priest with those graces which flow from the act itself independent of the insufficiencies of the person saying it. Perhaps equally important is that priests trained in the spirit of Vatican II no longer tend to see their primary function lies in performing the Sacrifice that is in saying Mass - a condition that implies that they make every effort to unite themselves with Christ's sacrifice. How can one who comes off the Cross turn around and abuse a child? Deprived of these graces, the priest, whose life is at best rather difficult, is exposed without protection to both temptations and evil.2

One should not let these scandalous events, however terrible, distract us from the far more serious problem of the mutilating alterations in the sacraments, and the almost certain destruction of the Apostolic Succession - such as are documented on this web page.

And so it is that these comments are offered in hopes that we can return to a certain sanity - that is health - in our thinking.


1 Treatment modalities center around castration, either anatomical or chemical. Since anatomical therapy is considered radical, it is rarely used. Chemical castration is dependent upon the individual cooperation. In any event, there is no change in the mentation achieved.

2 It will be argued that prior to the liturgical changes there were cases of pedophilia, and this is certainly true - a case in point being that of Rousseau. It should be clear that just because a priest is properly ordained and says the true Mass in no way guarantees that he has joined himself to Christ in any spiritual sense. Whether in ignorance or from lack of belief, he is in the same state as one who says a false Mass - though one who receives the sacraments from him is still protected providing he does not have a contrary internal intention. The difference is that even the best intentioned priest-president who says the novus ordo missae cannot unite himself to the Sacrifice of Christ because in the novus ordo there is no sacrifice of Christ - there is only a "sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving,," but no true sacrifice that makes present "here and now" the true Sacrifice of Christ.

The fact that other religious leaders are guilty of similar violations of trust is beside the point. The priest is meant to be an alter Christus. His violation of trust (vows, commitments) is far more serious.

Pedophilia among catholic priests. Homosexual priests, celibacy. Married priests.

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