Monday, January 2, 2012

Rules: You're Doing It Wrong

This post deals with child rape, pedophiles, and religion. 
If you'd like to leave a comment, I will be moderating this time.
The opinion is mine.  I am entitled to it, just as you are to yours.
That being said, here goes. 

I am a church going Catholic.  I may not always understand or agree with some of the doctrine and teachings but I choose to still remain faithful to the Catholic Church.  Here's the way I look at it.  If you want to play regulation basketball there are certain rules that MUST be followed. No traveling, no double dribble, no shooting from the bleachers unless you are a member of the Harlem Globetrotters.
Motto: We Don't Need Your Stinkin' Rules

If you want to run in the 400 meter relay for the Olympics, you have to stay in your own lane and not cut through the center field.  If you're on Iron Chef and are told not to use any onions, then you can't use the fucking onions because it will disqualify you!

Now, I have NEVER claimed to be perfect, to follow all the rules all the time, to even like some of the rules.  I've broken some (See: Sex, Premarital), been tempted to break others (See: Theft, Do Not Do It), and at times really hated following others (See: The Sabbath, Go Celebrate It). For instance, some Sundays I'd rather bite off my finger than attend Mass; sometimes I'm in no mood to give thanks and celebrate The Lord's Ultimate Sacrifice because I'm in a bad mood or I really want to sit around in yoga pants and play on the Interwebz.   

However, I can choose to do or not do these things.  To follow or not follow the rules.  If I'm not following the rules then I'm not acting like a Catholic should act. And if I'd rather do push ups on the basketball court, rather than do a free throw, I'm not following the rules and therefore not playing basketball properly.

So I choose to remain a Catholic, even when I don't feel like it.  And when I've broken the rules, I (eventually) muster up the courage and humility to go to Confession.  That's it.  The Catholic Church, like other organizations whether it be sports, academic teams, or cooking contests, has a set of rules that must be followed if one wants to be considered a Catholic.

When it comes to the rules of priestly celibacy, Karl Keating states "It is true that Catholic priests in the West may not be married, but no one is obliged to become a priest. Marriage is not forbidden to them as human beings, but as priests. A Catholic man is free to choose the celibate priesthood, the married life, or even the single life (which also is celibate). Celibacy is forced on no one." (Emphasis mine). 

This vow is not easy and is not entered into lightly.  It means sacrificing progeny, companionship and physical comfort of a spouse.  It means going at life alone.  It also means having a flock of people as your family.  It means bringing comfort to a family when a child is in a coma.  It is blessing the little couple that has been married for 50 years.  It's restoring a fallen Catholic in persona Christi back into the church.  It is commemorating the death and resurrection of Our Lord.

I have gone to school with some wonderful men who have joined the priesthood.  One of my favorite college professors was a priest, hard ass and impossible to please that he was.  The pastor at my church is a fun, loving man has sat down to dinner with me, beer in hand and who dispenses solid advice to guide me when I walk astray. I have been blessed to know some wonderful priests.  

So it has been troubling, gut-wrenching, sickening, maddening to discover that for decades there have been priests who have raped and molested innocent children.  Rather than being held accountable by the Church and by the State, these men were often shuffled off to another region of their diocese or order where they continued to wreak havoc on more lives. 

These men broke the rules and vows they took.  What they did was wrong on every level.  There is no excusing it.  In my world, these men with other rapists, molesters, perverts, monsters of the world would be tossed on Alcatraz, air dropped food and supplies, and left to fend for themselves.  In my mind, there is no one deserving of mercy for the crimes committed against children. 

So when a priest/bishop/deacon/monk have been exposed for the horrible actions they have committed, the first thing under scrutiny is the priestly vow of celibacy.  Many times I've heard the argument in the news and from family and friends that "If your priests could get married, then they wouldn't have to rape little boys."  (As if to say, it's wrong to rape a child because you are a sexual deviant, but it is okay to act on your deviancy on a companion)

First of all, as the survivor of rape, it's not about sex.  It's about power and control.  The need to hurt and belittle someone because the rapist is lacking, twisted, sick, and incomplete.  So even if priests were permitted to marry, it doesn't mean that these actions may not have occurred.  There are sadly too many examples of rapists and molesters that were married: John Wayne Gacy, the couple that abducted Elizabeth Smart, along with Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo.

Most will agree: rapists are sick people.

So when I heard of the allegations against Jerry Sandusky, my heart broke for those innocent children whose lives were shattered.  I was sickened.  Angry at those who stood silent while they were aware of the abuse.

But at the same time, I breathed a sigh of relief.

"See!" I want to shout.  "It's not just priest and ministers and bishops that abuse children.  It's not celibacy that drives them to do that.  It's not Catholicism.  It's about being a deviant!"

More stories of abuse are coming out of other sports organizations as I type.

Sandusky was married when these abuses began.  We can't blame celibacy on his actions.  Even if he was in a loveless, sexless marriage I can't imagine that a person who enjoys raping little boys would be adverse to visiting a male or female hooker or have a mistress. 

Rape is not about love or sex.  It's about power and control, things which these men, priest and married men alike, have abused.  It's not Catholicism and celibacy that forces these priests to do these things. 

It's just plain sickness and deviancy.  And sadly, no one area of our lives, has been unaffected by it. 

I don't have to be a Catholic, I don't have to follow the rules set up by my Church, but I choose to.  Just as Jerry Sandusky choose to rape those children.