Like a lot of other people, I've watched the Perverted Priest Parade march through the media as it has become grander and more eye-popping with every float. And like a lot of other people, I'm shocked, but not surprised. People are clannish. They guard their own and cover their heinies, and whether they cover them with white collars, business suits or legal footwork doesn't seem to make much difference. They are merely people, and they do bad things; only the very young should ever be surprised by that.
It's the young who have suffered for those bad things, and -- of course -- any priest who molested a child should have been ratted out by knowing superiors instead of being sent down the road to become another parish's problem. The question has even been raised whether the Catholic Church should reconsider its requirement of celibacy for priests, which seems like a no-brainer. Denying an adult any sexuality and then investing them with the responsibility for other people's happiness is like putting someone on the Slim Fast program and then having them serve dessert.
Starving people don't make good waiters, and people who pretend a part of themselves does not exist are unlikely candidates to help others feel whole. I'm sure there are many good priests out there. I'm just sure they would be better off if their own psyches were more reasonably looked after.
As I weighed this matter, I began to think about encouraging the Catholic Church to consider a few changes. Certainly, everyone has rituals, whether it's saying special prayers, washing our hands 50 times a day, or rising and making coffee like clockwork. But every once in a while you look at your rituals and see where they no longer serve you, and you change them. For example, when you were 6, your ritual might have been to have your mom wake you up every morning and trot you off to kindergarten. If you're 30 and still having mother rouse and dress you for work, you're not following tradition; you're just crazy. It pays to regroup every few decades.
So, I was going to talk about this and how the rules of the priesthood should be reformed to attract different types of people and perhaps fewer pedo-philes. The priestly love life seems to be the area most in need of overhaul, as in, maybe they should get to have one.
I was also going to offer lots of snotty suggestions for priestly dating, like, "Pants should be worn under vestments lest a high wind kicks up; garter belts and stockings may be worn under pants only"; "Appearances on "Blind Date" must be cleared through the bishop"; "Missionary positions will not be limited to those doing missionary work"; "Wear condoms unless you want Ã?Father' to be more than a courtesy title"; "Do not turn bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ while at a restaurant to impress a date." Then there's the big kahuna, "No pedophiles. No exceptions."
Then I realized it's really not any of my business.
Bound to fail
I'm not Catholic. My parents tried to make me so by putting me through eight years of Catholic school, but that took about as well as one of those failed pig-liver transplants you read about in a science-news column. I'm not religious and don't figure Jesus is coming back to earth any more than Rhett is coming back to Scarlett. The Bible is a good collection of stories, open to interpretation and full of imagination and drama, but for me personally, basing one's life on any book is a prospect bound to end in disillusionment followed by antisocial behavior. Just ask your bigger fans of "Catcher in the Rye." I'm sure there are some people who are able to do it successfully, but not me.
While I believe I have as much right as anyone to think that the taking advantage of children and the covering up of such things ought to be stopped by law tout de suite, as a non-Catholic, it's not my business whether priests should be allowed to marry, date, enter sexy (adult) chat rooms or carry on in any other way.
If the Pope wants to make them wear chastity belts and throw all the keys into the Mediterranean for good measure, that's his choice. Pedophilia is obviously wrong, as is any non-consensual sex, but outside of making an obvious comment like that, I suppose I should keep my big snoot out of other people's personal lives. I'm not really involved.
Now that I've taken the high road (and yes, it's new scenery for me), I just hope the church -- and that's all churches -- will be equally considerate of the rest of us. If religious organizations would stop whining, "Don't be gay," "Don't have sex" and "Don't veer from the traditional nuclear family," I would promise never to say, "Oh, get laid once in a while, for God's sake."
But then, it's hard to expect some people to do unto others as they would have others do unto them.
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