If you were the Pope, what would you do?
I’ve been trying to put myself inside his head recently, slightly revolting as that may be. From inside his head, what I’d be thinking about is the institution of the Church. I’d be rationalizing, though I doubt I’d even realize that’s what I was doing. I’d be saying okay, well all this stuff happened a long time ago, and things are different now (maybe not, but I wouldn’t let myself think that either); and there were a few (well, quite a few, but that wouldn’t occur to me either) bad apples; and all those bishops transferring all those priests were just trying to protect the reputation of our Church, which after all is the Highest Good and has to take precedence over all. The One True Church must be preserved from blemish.
From inside my own head, I can understand this. The Catholic Church is a big deal to a lot of people. But, given that it had and probably still has this cancer, this “filth,” as Benedict himself called it, my head says they need to understand the root of the problem of pedophiliac priests. They need a fundamental, not just cosmetic, Church Protection Plan.
Does celibacy lead to pedophilia (even though there seem to be plenty of married pedophiles)? Does the Church’s sex phobia (sex is a mortal sin unless you’re married, and even if you’re married you should be doing it only in the service of procreation) lead to repression, which then rears its head (so to speak) uncontrollably? Does the Church’s condemnation of homosexuality force young boys into seminaries, hoping celibacy will cure them? Do they then imprint their sexual desires on other young boys? Does sexual abuse of boys by priests lead to grown-up sexual abusers?
These are tough questions, and Pope Benedict doesn’t quite seem like the type to be curious about the answers. If I were Pope, though, I’d set up a commission (of scientists, psychologists, medical professionals and both priests and nuns) to investigate the problem, and I’d write a Papal Encyclical to tell people about it. It would follow quite nicely from his previous three encyclicals: On Christian Love, Saved by Hope, and Charity in Truth.