As Peter Said: `Repent, Be Baptized'. (Viewpoint)

By Oldershaw, Bob | National Catholic Reporter, May 24, 2002 | Go to article overview

As Peter Said: `Repent, Be Baptized'. (Viewpoint)


Oldershaw, Bob, National Catholic Reporter


The following was an Easter homily delivered by Fr. Bob Oldershaw, pastor of St. Nicholas Church in Evanston, Ill.

I want to speak with you today day about clerical sexual misconduct conduct with minors. The constant flood of reports about the church, priests and bishops tells us of sin, failure, betrayal of trust, a reckless ineptitude and a disregard for truth and justice.

How can we not be affected? How can we not be absorbed in powerful anger, grief and sadness? How can we not be "cut to the heart" by this profoundly troubling scandal, like the people in Jerusalem blistered by Peter's preaching? Can our question be any different than theirs? What must we do?

First, we must look at the wounded body Of Christ of which we are all members, the Christ who "himself bore our sins in his body on the cross so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness." This body is wounded by sin and evil.

When we look at clerical sexual abuse we are looking into the jaws of sin and evil. There is the broken trust of priests and bishops with individual victims. There are the attempts of some bishops to cover up their crimes in order to protect their image instead of addressing the reality of evil in their midst. There is the sin of reassigning abusive priests to other parishes where they could again violate children. This sin, whether it happened 10 months ago or 30 years ago, whether it is the abuse itself or the attempt to deny, avoid or camouflage it, is fundamentally about the use and misuse of power.

This was understood in a letter I received this week from a parish member. She wrote: "Most, if not all the problems surrounding clerical misconduct both with children and women religious, stem from related systemic aspects of the church--an abuse of power and the complicity of the all-male priesthood in protecting and serving that power." These are harsh words but we need to hear them.

This abuse of power is not only a sin. It is a crime. The abuse itself that has physically, psychologically and spiritually damaged hundreds, perhaps thousands, of children and their families, and the failure on the part of church leadership to report credible allegations to public authorities is criminal. No one is above the law, especially when it comes to the protection of children. Being beyond the statute of limitations or where reporting is not mandated makes it no less criminal.

It is a psychological aberration in most instances. Most abusers are in the grip of a crippling, compulsive disorder that is marked by denial and self-delusion. Current research indicates that pedophilia, the sexual abuse of prepubescent children, is treatable but not curable. Ephebophilia, the attraction to adolescents, appears to be both treatable and curable. This was not clearly understood 20 years ago. It may not be fully understood even today. But in no case should a person who has been so-called "cured" be in a situation with either prepubescent or adolescent children. None of this exonerates either the abuser or the church. Over the years, young people have been hurt and scarred forever. The denial and self-delusion not only marked the abuser but branded the church's leadership.

The most common abusers

Clerical misconduct with minors is not restricted to Catholic priests. It is a subset of a much larger and pervasive problem of child victimization found in every religious community, in every profession and mostly in the family. The Christian Science Monitor reports that most congregations hit by sexual abuse are Protestant, and abusers are church volunteers. Psychologists tell us that the profile of a pedophile is a white, middle-aged, married male. This would challenge assumptions that sexual abuse of minors is necessarily related to either celibacy or homosexuality. None of this data mitigates the terrible evil and often irreparable damage done by priest abusers who, held to a high standard, violated a sacred trust bestowed on them through ordination. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

As Peter Said: `Repent, Be Baptized'. (Viewpoint)
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.