Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Richard Sipe on Sex, Obedience, and Disclosure: Getting to the Roots of Catholic Clerical Abuse Crisis

For the sound of a really prophetic voice in American Catholicism today (no vroom, vroom, vroom here), I recommend Richard Sipe's latest article at National Catholic Reporter on sex, obedience, and disclosure in the Catholic church.

Its conclusion:

Woven into the fiber of Catholic sexual teaching and celibate operation are unresolved factors that make immoral behavior, secret lives, and sociopathic patterns of personality adjustment not only common, especially in the upper echelons of power, but also inevitable across the board in too many clerical lives. The unresolved issues form a sick system.

The Vatican insistence that every question about human sexuality is settled and beyond discourse—it is only for a person to obey and conform—takes important life decisions out of the realm of moral inquisition, responsibility and decision. The refusal of the Pope and Vatican to enter into serious dialogue about the sexual/celibate agenda has stripped the Church its moral leadership and credibility and been an essential component in the worldwide Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis.

As Sipe notes, the adamant refusal of the Vatican to open issues of sexual morality for respectful, free, public dialogue "clogs up" the entire Catholic agenda.  It is impossible to talk credibly about human rights for everyone, for instance, when we refuse to talk about our persistent violation of the human rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters—as if they simply do not exist.

And we won't and can't talk about our ongoing assault on the rights of our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters when we won't and can't open the topic of homosexuality (among other matters of sexual morality) for serious, respectful, public discussion.  Better, if it's image we value and not substance, to go on talking about rights as if those whose rights we violate just aren't in the room.

And meanwhile, we can now drown out pesky questions about who matters and who doesn't with the loud vroom, vroom, vroom of Archbishop Wenski's hog.