Violating the Privacy of the Mind And the Body
Oh yeah, they swam nude and the priest fondled him when he was 12 years old but it wasn't "rape or penetration or anything like that," so "let bygones be bygones." "Remember the good times we had" and get over it already. And the neighbor, what a BRILLIANT insight: "He couldn't have done this because he was so quiet." Let's make her our new poster girl for community denial.
It goes on and on and on. Generation after generation. This is why we have to have rules and laws that legislate morality -- because so many men still don't get that you don't treat children in a sexualized way, period. You don't fondle, you don't rape, you don't penetrate, you don't exploit them for your pleasure. Why is this so hard to understand? Why is this still considered a grey area for so many men, and even priests, who should be more deeply in touch with the inherent dignity and privacy of the developing child than the average guy?
We blame a lot of Catholic sexual abuse on the hierarchical structure of the Church. There's good reason for that blame, but I am beginning to think that this is more than an ecclesiological corruption. I am beginning to see a correlation between violating a child's private inner life in the form of catechisms and doctrines that permit no freedom to privately discern important existential truths, and the tacit institutional permission to similiarly violate the privacy of the child's body. I'm not trying to be a theologian here, just an angry woman who would like children to be able to come of age unmolested by adults.
If it's part of the Catholic tradition to penetrate children's minds at a young age and demolish their privacy regarding theological reflection and decision-making, can it really be so shocking that penetration and violation of the privacy of their bodies is not far behind?
We must protect children's freedom of religious imagination just as surely as we protect them from physical molesters and exploiters. They are two pieces of the same cloth.
[This post has generated HOT STUFF with some readers. Wally Nut posts his own thoughts here http://grandfathertree.blogspot.com/2006/10/power-corrupts.html and here's Sallie Ellis responding in the "nay" at http://missellis.blogspot.com/2006/10/response-to-peacebangs-privacy-post.html-- PB]