I wrote about confession a few days ago, suggesting that, as individuals, and as a culture, we need to go to confession. Could help, and it certainly couldn’t hurt. I’m not advocating, that anyone necessarily do the traditional church confession, although that is a sound option for adults, but I am suggesting that confession is a good practice, however one might choose to engage in it.
But today I want to talk about how confession is used in the church, secretly, to enable, and perpetuate its long-standing culture of pedophilia. We are all aware of the culture, some more than others. It’s been in the news enough the past few years to allow anyone to be informed who is interested in being informed. But what troubles me is that after all the headlines, the arrests, the pay-offs, the proclamations by the pope, the bishops and the other PR spokespersons for the church, there has still not been any significant investigation into HOW such a culture could develop, to become, and remain ensconced so profoundly in the church. It’s as if the public wishes to believe that it’s all cleaned up now, so it is all cleaned up now. But that’s like pretending that, after the major league baseball steroid scandal, and all the attention paid to it, that there are no longer any more steroids being used in baseball. Actually, we just got tired of it. But, pedophilia in the church is not just a bunch of overpaid athletes poking themselves in the ass. It is (excuse my description) kids being poked in the ass by supposed representatives of God, whom they have been conditioned to trust and respect. There can be no more abhorrent abuse of power and trust imaginable.
I know how this culture feeds itself. I’m not the smartest guy on the planet, but if I know, how is it that the church supposedly doesn’t know, or the Pope, or the authorities, or the parents of these children?
I was raised in the Catholic Church, went to Catholic school, first through ninth grades, and, as a child, did the whole confession thing every Friday morning with the rest of my schoolmates. Went and sat in the church as a class, and, one by one, took our turn in the confessional telling a priest our secrets and sins. We knelt in the confessional booth, and the priest sat in the booth in the dark on the other side of a screen. Who knows what he was doing? It was kind of mysterious, and it was kind of scary. But we told the priest our impure thoughts (of which, as young boys, there were always many), how many times we masturbated during the past week, how many times we tried to look up Megan’s dress, or down her blouse, and the number of lies that we told our parents. Things like that. A kids confession. The priest would ask us about some of our ‘sins’, and then give us absolution (forgiveness). Now, what’s wrong with this goddamned picture? And people still ask “how is it that priests target their victims?”
Well, that’s exactly how it happens. And that’s how it continues.
We always wondered why some of the boys, and girls, at the school were chosen to spend special days with the priests at the rectory (priests house), and others weren’t. And why some boys were invited to be altar boys, and others weren’t. I was (I got to help the priest ‘get dressed’ for Mass). Icky vibes. And why it always felt just a little bit creepy how a priest might relate to me during the week following my confession. And why priests just disappeared from the church, or school. Here one day, gone the next. We were always told that they had been ‘called back, unexpectedly, to Ireland’. Now I know that the church was feeling heat, and they were reassigned.
I will just say this to any of you practicing Catholics who have children attending Catholic school. Do not ever let them go to ‘confession’, and particularly if their school is connected to that church.
Here’s what I think. No male priest should EVER hear a child’s, an adolescent’s, or a woman’s confession. That privilege should be given to nuns, who would be more trustworthy in matters of sexual exploitation. Unless the church is willing to deal honestly with HOW the culture of pedophilia exists, and change it’s historical structure, then I would advocate that civil authorities investigate the practice of confession within the Catholic church in the same way they have investigated child marriage in the Mormon church. I am not one to welcome the intrusion of government into private life, but the cultish practices that perpetuate the abuse of children need to be brought to light. If not by the church hierarchy (and that’s not going to happen), then by any means necessary.
I believe in the redemptive power of confession, and primarily for adults, but it is a personal matter that may, or may not, include the participation of a priest.