Sunday, September 15, 2013

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Narcissism . . . Is the Most Determinate Factor in the Sexual/Spiritual Abuse Crisis of the Church, Not a Person's Sexual Orientation"

And another excellent comment from the past week in a discussion at a Catholic blog site--in this case, the thread following Dennis Coday's report at National Catholic Reporter that Father Shawn Ratigan was given a 50-year sentence recently in Kansas City for production and possession of child pornography: this is Mark 13 Fs responding to Father Joseph O'Leary, who (astonishingly, given the facts in the Ratigan case), wants to explain the Catholic clerical abuse crisis as "ordinary gay guys slipping over the line between minors and adults." O'Leary then goes on to say that "Bilgrimage" goes berserk if one makes that observation.

To which Mark replies eloquently,

Narcissism and poor to pathologically poor social-emotional development is the most determinate factor [in] the sexual/spiritual abuse crisis of the Church, not a person's sexual orientation. As a former special education teacher, I worked in a treatment setting for sex offenders for over 18 years. The most important factors which the offenders acted out from were mostly  developmental, psycho-pathogenic and criminalgenic (a desire to seek power through criminal acts and practice of manipulation of others in place of pro-social development) coupled with very high rates of being a victimized by sexual crime and heavy exposure and universal use of pornography. In every single student I worked with pornography use was present. Both the kind of pornography used and the victimizer's fantasies were predictive of the kind of crimes they were most likely to commit and repeat over and over until stopped by someone else. 
Most of the sex offenders I worked with were astonishingly and unbelievably self-centered and selfish (narcissistic) and already well practiced at deviousness based on fear and an unrelenting lust for power. Many had the formal diagnosis of narcissism. However their narcissism did not generally have much institutional support (even thosein gangs), unlike the sex offenders in the clergy (sexual crime rates among Catholic and Protestant clergy over a 10 year period were almost equal according to a study by AIG). Almost all the sex offenders I worked with had poor or pathologically poor social-emotional development and poor to pathologically poor social skills well below their chronological age. This was by far the most frequent condition that qualified them for special education services. And the finding that priests who enter at a young age have poor or pathologically poor social-emotional development and poor to pathologically poor social skills well below their chronological age is well established in research. Sex offenders typically acted out obsessively with children (any children they can get at and control) because of the primacy of their own narcissism and selfishness, their own poor and/or pathologically poor social-emotional development and subsequent predatory behavior based on manipulation, control and domination, all soothed by their own thought distortions. 
For most sex offenders, their own sexual preference was not a generally an important factor in their many crimes. Achieving a clear sexual orientation is usually a developmental task beyond their developmental level and often, determining a sexual orientation is tackled during the last part of their 3-4 year treatment program. 
For the vast majority of sex offenders I worked with, their many crimes had almost nothing to do with their own sexual orientation and almost everything to do with their narcissism coupled with criminal and malignant use of power over their victims: most typically those who are smaller, weaker and more innocent and more easily manipulated--children. Then these offenders worked very hard to cover their crimes by incredible and adroit manipulations. Unlike the sex offenders in positions of spiritual authority in churches, the sex offenders I worked with came from jails and juvenile halls. They did not have superiors, who covertly or overtly identified with them, and assisted these sex offenders in supporting and in covering up their many, many crimes.

As AileenUSA says, Mark's response to O'Leary is excellent, and it's a shame it's buried so deep in the thread discussing the Ratigan case. Hence my decision to unbury it by posting it here . . . . 

This is a thread that begins with the observation of one Becca Robinson--a homophobic piece of work: click on her name in Disqus and read her commenting history, if you don't believe me--that Ratigan "no doubt" had taken photos of boys. Robinson's comment reveals the extent to which homophobic Catholics persist in wanting to turn the abuse crisis into something all about gay men abusing teenaged boys, when it has been known from the outset that, in Ratigan's case, the photos he took were of girls aged 3-12.

And, of course, where there's homophobic dirt to sling around in National Catholic Reporter discussion threads, one can predict that our friend Purgatrix Ineptiae will weigh into the discussion with handfuls of fresh manure to smear about--even, and I ask again, Isn't this astonishing?, in a case in which a priest has been found guilty of taking pornographic photos of little girls. For Purgatrix, it's all about anal rape and disease, all about gay men raping boys.


I spent a painful hour last week listening to gut-wrenching testimony by a Catholic woman raped repeatedly as a little girl by her parish priest, who shared her with another priest to be raped by that other priest, too. She has told this story publicly, and so I am not disclosing any private information this courageous woman has not revealed in the public forum. A case Steve and I have been following closely, because it hits home for us in a direct way, involves a priest raping a number of teenaged girls in his Catholic parish, with dire consequences in at least one of the cases we are following closely for very personal reasons.

The monomaniacal fixation of some Catholics on gay men in explanatory memes about the abuse crisis, and the need to use those memes to keep alive toxic memes about gay men as child abusers, rapists,  and spreaders of disease and dirt, is truly sick, and the sickness is deeply apparent when one sees that some Catholics are willing to hijack discussions about a priest who has taken pornographic pictures of little girls to repeat these toxic claims. 

There is, I have to conclude, a sickness inside the souls of people who are willing to twist reality in this way, in order to persist in demonizing a targeted minority of human beings. When that soul sickness works its way into the soul of an institution like the Catholic church, as it seems to have done in at least some quarters in recent decades, the institution is in danger of becoming quite seriously ill--unless it can find ways to rid itself of the toxins being planted inside it by people whose game is hate and not love. 

Sean Ratigan produces and possesses pornographic pictures of little girls, and yet the discussion is about gay priests sodomizing and infecting boys: this speaks volumes, doesn't it, about what's seriously wrong in some parts of the Catholic community right now? And about the continued need of Catholics who care about the future of their church to push back against the attempt of some fellow Catholics like  Becca Robinson and Purgatrix Ineptiae to turn the abuse crisis into a story about the demonic nature of gay men . . . . And also about the continued need of Catholic blog sites to monitor the kind of homophobic discourse churned out on an ongoing basis by folks like Robinson and Ineptiae . . . .

That Joseph O'Leary can't seem to see the manure pile he steps into when he consorts with these folks while claiming to defend LGBTI rights is mind-boggling to me. I can only conclude--and I have said this publicly to him on more than one occasion here--that membership in the elite Catholic clerical club can provide some very powerful blinders for many of those who live comfortably and uncritically inside said club.

P.S. Please see the following footnote to this discussion in a subsequent posting.

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