It is very easy to cast judgement on those guilty of committing acts of child abuse and easy forget that the abusers are often victims themselves. Sexual child abuse is of course, abhorrent, but the reasons why so many in positions of power in the Catholic Church have been abusing children are not as straight forward as people may like. Writes Andrew Sullivan:
Many of these tormented men have arrested sexual and emotional development. They have never had a sexual or intimate relationship with any other human being. Sex for them is an abstraction, a sin, not an interaction with an equal. And their sexuality has been frozen at the first real moment of internal terror: their early teens. So they tend to be attracted still to those who are in their own stage of development: teenage boys. And in their new positions, they are given total access to these kids who revere them for their power.
So they use these children to express themselves sexually.
They barely see these children as young and vulnerable human beings, incapable of true consent. Because they have never had a real sexual relationship, have never had to deal with the core issue of human equality and dignity in sex, they don’t see the children as victims.
This doesn’t in anyway excuse the priests for their behaviour or let the Church off the hook for its despicable policy of sweeping the matter under the carpet, but it does explain a lot. While the crimes are incredibly harmful to children, I don’t think society shouldn’t always throw the key away when it comes to treating those responsible for the crimes.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.