In the Wake of the Child Abuse Scandals in the Catholic Church

The recent scandals committed by clergy in the Roman Catholic Church with the thousands of victims, and these victims young boys and girls, is the focus of this essay.

I am not a Catholic Christian, but I am a Christian, and all of us who openly identify with Jesus Christ are tarnished by the events that go deep into the Vatican itself. And this is not something new, either.

What follows is a reporting of a conversation I had this morning with members of the local clergy.

First, someone said the exposure of the abuse has nothing to do with homosexuality but everything to do with pedophilia. And to suggest it has to do with homosexual behavior is homophobic. I take issue with this.

I have been around too long to cringe at this slanderous statement. As a pastor for fifty plus years, I have seen plenty. Yes, not all the molestations are of a homosexual nature, but most are. The altar boys are just right there.

Second, I mentioned that there is a pro-gay contingent at the heart of the issue, which is rooted, and deeply, in the Vatican itself. And the issue is not about celibacy either, meaning clergy has to find some sort of sexual outlet since marriage is not permitted them.[1]

Third, there is nothing new about clergy engaging sexually with youth under their care and guidance. It has been going on for centuries.

Everything changes when the molester holds the power of salvation over the victim’s head. In the Roman Catholic Church, salvation is only attainable through the Church itself, with the rites of baptism, confirmation, the Eucharist, and the other “sacraments.”

Sacraments are rites and rituals that confer salvation, and the Church’s clergy give out the sacraments. So what we are seeing now is none other than the abuse of power.

Fourth, power is always the corrupting element. For so long the molesters could get away with what they did because of the power they held over others, plus the ability to cover up the crimes in case there would be complaints.

We happen to live in a day when whistle blowers are honored and protected, and thus it should be. So a crisis is brewing in the sacred halls of clerical power.

Correspondingly, we live in an age when homosexual behavior is almost sacrosanct, and by this I mean, one dare not even suggest there is anything wrong with homosexual behavior. Even those who say they stand with the “Word of God” equivocate. But there are still those of us who will say, “No! homosexual behavior is wrong, it is sinful.”

Fifth, as a sinner myself it is no simple thing to point the finger at others. Quickly the story of the woman taken in adultery comes to mind. Jesus said to the woman’s accusers, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone at her” (John 8:7). Then the Apostle Paul referred to himself, and in the present tense, as the chief or foremost of sinners. (see 1 Timothy 1:15)

Sixth, a way out of this morass may be the recognition that no human being, no church, no group, gives the gift of eternal life. Jesus alone is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him. (see John 14:6)

This great truth frees people from being fearful of exposing clergy abuse. This alone must be the message of those who call themselves Christians.

Seventh, it is not homophobic, or hate speech, to call homosexual behavior sin. Yes, in a culture that is bent on appeasing and promoting homosexuality, there is a cost to pay. Indeed, many         will be cowed by the fear of being labeled homophobic. However, we who follow Jesus must be braver than this. We must make a decision. Will we strive to avoid criticism from those who want to fit into the massive trend to okay sinful behavior? Or will we desire to honor the One who created us male and female and gave us the gift of marriage?

Two final personal words: First, this is not a political statement. No one knows how I vote and I advocate for no one. But because I do not want this essay to be rejected out of hand by someone saying, “Well, what do you expect from a Trumpite!” I tell you right now I did not vote for President Trump. I advocate for Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

Second, people in all Christian churches, denominations, and branches of Christianity are sinners, including the leaders. No one of us can cast the first stone. Then the other religions of the world, including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and on and on, are lead and represented by sinful people as well. Then consider the politicians, and whatever “ism”, from the presidents, prime ministers, on down, cannot cast a first stone either. The corporate heads, of profits and non-profits alike, the great and mighty business tycoons, the stars of film, television, music, theater, etc., none can cast that stone.

Indeed, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 2:23).

Kent Philpott

October 2018

[1] There is nothing in the Bible stating that preachers, pastors, and other church leaders are not to marry. The history of celibacy is long and complex, but for it being a biblical mandate is absolutely false.

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