It’s Not About The Sex

DougJ asks: What is it about religion and sexual abuse?

The answer is nothing. It’s not about religion and sexual abuse. The priest sex scandal was not about sex. It was about the abuse of power by the bishops and archbishops and cardinal archbishops and the Vatican hierarchy to deny and conceal sexual abuse, pressure abuse victims to retract their claims, and protect the abusers above all else. It’s not about sexual abuse. It’s about power abuse.

When this thing became known as the “priest sex scandal” that’s when I knew it wasn’t going to lead to either the downfall of the present church in America (which it could have) or to sweeping changes in the church’s hierarchy overall. Because if it’s about priests and sex, then we’re all still arguing about the wrong things.

But it’s a lot more titillating to talk about dirty vicars and whatnot than it is to argue legal cases involving the statute of limitations and the reasons for sealing court records and the case for having them unsealed. So “priest sex” is the shorthand, not “bishop fraud” or something similar.


6 thoughts on “It’s Not About The Sex

  1. It’s not about sex, not at all, as the doctor and the mother who were excommunicated in Brazil can attest. They arranged for an abortion for the woman’s 9 year old daughter, who was impregnated with twins by her stepfather. The pregnancy occurred after years of rape. The stepfather was not excommunicated. The mother and doctor were. No, indeed, it is not about sex.

  2. if the church wants women to be birthin babees one after another, and every sperm is sacred. shouldn’t priest’s sperm be better making babees than dying in an alter boy’s ass?
    chjurch logic sucks.

  3. I agree, it’s not about the sex. May be of interest:Zizek’s take on the pedophilia flourishing in the ranks of the Catholic Church:

    When the Church representatives insists that these cases, deplorable as they are, are Church’s internal problem, and display great reluctance to collaborate with police in their investigation, they are, in a way, right: the pedophilia of Catholic priests is not something that concerns merely the persons who, because of accidental reasons of private history with no relation to the Church as an institution, happened to chose the profession of a priest; it is a phenomenon that concerns the Catholic Church as such, that is inscribed into its very functioning as a socio-symbolic institution. It does not concern the “private” unconscious of individuals, but the “unconscious” of the institution itself: it is not something that happens because the Institution has to accommodate itself to the pathological realities of libidinal life in order to survive, but something that the institution itself needs in order to reproduce itself. One can well imagine a “straight” (not pedophiliac) priest who, after years of service, gets involved in pedophilia because the very logic of the institution seduces him into it. Such an institutional Unconscious designates the obscene disavowed underside that, precisely as disavowed, sustains the public institution. (In the army, this underside consists of the obscene sexualized rituals of fragging etc. which sustain the group solidarity.) In other words, it is not simply that, for conformist reasons, the Church tries to hush up the embarrassing pedophilic scandals; in defending itself, the Church defends its innermost obscene secret. What this means is that identifying oneself with this secret side is a key constituent of the very identity of a Christian priest: if a priest seriously (not just rhetorically) denounces these scandals, he thereby excludes himself from the ecclesiastic community, he is no longer “one of us” (in exactly the same way a citizen of a town in the South of the US in the 1920s, if he denounced Ku Klux Klan to the police, excluded himself from his community, i.e., betrayed its fundamental solidarity). Consequently, the answer to the Church’s reluctance should be not only that we are dealing with criminal cases and that, if Church does not fully participate in their investigation, it is an accomplice after the fact; moreover, Church AS SUCH, as an institution, should be investigated with regard to the way it systematically creates conditions for such crimes.

  4. It’s not a priest sex scandal, it’s a Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organization scandal, a continuing-criminal-enterprise scandal that ought to be gone after the way prosecutors go after the Mafia.

  5. Lex,
    Spot on. Baseball players taking steroids has had more ongoing coverage and official investigation.

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