The Catholic Church is not immune to the secular world and its accompanying evils, and the recent sexual abuse scandal within the Church’s Pennsylvania Diocese proves this. But rather than turn away from the church, faithful Christians should consider this trial a blessing.
Over the past few weeks, a grand jury’s investigation revealed that more than 300 priests abused innocent children, or helped cover the abuse up. This is an embarrassment that mirrors the 2002 Boston sexual misconduct disgrace. One scandal, let alone two, is mortifying, inconceivable, and faith-shattering for many Catholics. Some seek to rectify the church’s sins through 40-Day fasts while others throw in the towel and leave the Church completely. In fact, one year after the Boston scandal, Catholic Church attendance was down 14 percent. And it’s easy to see why — placing your faith in men will only result in heartache, doubt, and anger. Man is flawed, and anyone who says differently should look no further than the Church and its pitfalls.
But, oddly enough, this heartbreaking scandal could be a blessing to society. After the Boston scandal, Catholics experienced a strengthening of conviction, despite lower Church attendance. The gruesome display of sexual deviancy helped de-normalize the Sexual Revolution, reverting its ever present influence at that time. The Sexual Revolution, which began in the 1970s, threatened the Church in perhaps a much greater way than corrupt, perverted priests ever could — it questioned the very doctrines on which the Church stands. If left to itself, this tidal wave of “acceptance” and “free thinking” could have led to the open approval of every form of sexual orientation, including pedophilia and pederasty.
In 1993, relationships between grown men and young boys were on the rise. The North American Man/Boy Love Association gained such momentum at this time that prominent poet and philosopher Allen Ginsberg did more than just vocally support the group — he joined it. And in 1998, scientist Bruce Rind released a study attempting to prove that child sexual abuse did not have lasting, harmful effects on the children.
After Boston, the media, reveling in the opportune moment to discredit the Catholic Church, came out in full force. But by attacking the church for its grossly unacceptable relationships between priests and children, the media was forced to condemn pederasty and pedophilia. It was a beautiful conundrum that helped discredit the philosophy of “acceptance.”
Now, 16 years later, the church is once again wrestling with the horrendous crimes of our priests: The abuse of power and sexuality. And once again, society is falling into the trap of tolerance by making way for all forms of sexual orientation. In fact, the acceptance of sexual deviations isn’t just encouraged, it’s celebrated. A Pedantic-romanticising movie “Call Me By Your Name” is a frontrunner among Oscar nominations. A recent TedX Talk given by Mirjam Heine claimed pedophilia is an “unchangeable sexual orientation” and should be accepted as such. And normally reliable sources like the Harvard Mental Health Letter attempted to make the same claim in 2010.
Catholics should hope and pray the media once again sets out to destroy Catholicism’s image, because in doing so, they will denounce the ongoing acceptance of pederasty and pedophilia, just as they did after the Boston scandal.
And as difficult as it might be to see the Catholic faith dragged through the mud, let it be a reminder to faithful Catholics: If we put our faith in the faulty foundation of men — be it priests, bishops, or the Pope — we will consistently be let down. And if Catholics can remember that, then scandals like this will serve as a beautiful oxymoron that can strengthen our faith. We must look past the faults of man to see the hand of God in this, and in every, situation.
Tess Ens is a sophomore studying economics.