Friday, July 11, 2008
"CONFRONTING POWER AND SEX IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH"
by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson
Yesterday I promised quotes, so I'll deliver some.
From the Introduction:
Spiritual power is arguably the most dangerous power of all....The worst case is that of the 'messiah complex', where a person believes that God is calling him or her to be, as it were, a messiah, a chosen one who is called to some special mission and is, therefore, above the rules that apply to ordinary mortals, including the moral rules.(p. 12)
While the abuse of children has been the object of almost all attention, there has also been abuse of adults, especially women, and this, too, has caused great harm to the victims. It has not received attention because the police have normally responded that it appeared to be a consenting relationship and so no crime had been committed. In almost all cases, however, there has been the sexualising of a pastoral relationship, and in many cases an abuse of spiritual power to obtain sexual favours. It is hard not to see celibacy as contributing to these cases of abuse of adult women. (p. 16)
There is one other way in which celibacy has contributed to abuse. A significant reason why the response of many church authorities has been poor is that many bishops and religious superiors, not being parents themselves, have not appreciated just how fiercely, and even ferociously, parents will act to defend their children from harm. If they had been parents, there would surely have been a more decisive response. (p. 18) [I've said the same thing myself.]
'How many abused children is celibacy worth?' (p. 19)
Granted the present structures of the church, what we must cry out for is a pope who will say publicly, 'Yes, I am genuinely serious about confronting both abuse and the response to abuse, and I will ruthlessly change whatever needs to be changed in order to overcome both of these problems. (p. 20)
When, in front of several journalists at a public meeting, I answered a victim's question by saying that I was not happy with the level of support we were receiving from 'Rome', I received an official letter (7 August 1996) expressing 'the ongoing concern of the Congregation for Bishops that you have in recent months expressed views that are seriously critical of the magisterial teaching and discipline of the Church.' I was told that "in a recent audience, the Holy Father has been fully apprised of your public position on these issues and He has shown "serious preoccupation in your regard.' Two months later (16 October 1996) I received a further letter informing me that 'The relevant documentation will be forwarded, for its information and review, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith', implying that I was suspected of some form of heresy. (p. 21)
I eventually came to the point where I felt that, with the thoughts that were running through my head, I could not continue to be a bishop of a church about which I had such profound reservations. I resigned my office as Auxiliary Bishop in Sydney and began to write this book about the very foundations of power and sex within the church. (p. 22)