I agree that it has everything to do with availability, but I think the altar boy/girl thing is a red herring. Boys are more available to priests than girls because of counseling, sports, and religious retreats. On retreats, the girls are chaperoned by nuns while the boys are chaperoned by priests. Also, in many areas of the country parochial schools are still segregated into boy and girl schools, with priests and nuns as teachers respectively.
Finally, most altar boys/girls are around age 13 or 14. As has already been pointed out in this thread, this is more of an issue of phebophilia than pedophilia.
Ephebophiles really do have a sexual orientation that fits the homosexual/heterosexual model. The age is not central to the attraction- someone who prefers to be involved with adolescents may also have involvements with adults. If I remember correctly, there’s some evidence that the preference for adolescents is in part driven by the likely balance of power in a relationship between an adolescent and an adult.
While I certainly I dismayed – beyond dismayed – at the conduct of the priests at issue here, I feel I ought to offer some of my reactions beyond that.
I’m not persuaded that a sexual attraction to teenagers - post pubsescent boys or girls - is such a filthy thing. I think a normal person doesn’t experience it all that much, for a vairety of reasons.
But many people are perfectly willing to countenance sexual relationships based solely on how the other person looks. In fact, we’ve had many a debate on this board about whether or not that makes you “shallow” and to what extent… seeing a hot guy or girl at a party and being attracted, without knowing the first thing about their personality, and being willing to initiate a sexual relationship based solely on that, is not unheard of, nor universally despised.
We’ve also had heated debates about what age of consent really ought to be… why is 18, 17, 16 such a magic number? Obviously, whatever the law is in your state, it’s not the case that it marks a universal constant. A person legally having sex with a sixteen-year-old in one state does not become a moral pervert merely by crossing a state line, even if he’s now acting illegally.
Based on this… I guess I’m trying to say that what I find despicable is the abuse of the position of trust and authority… not necessarily the underlying sexual attraction. Priests are men, and certainly subject to the same drives and desires of other men. LIke other men… heck, MORE SO than other men, we ought to look to them to exercise control and maturity. But that goes to their actions, not to the underlying desires.
I don’t know how many Catholic priests are gay. But from a guy who once looked lustfully at Leelee Sobieski (her “Here on Earth” role) I’m not prepared to condemn all lustful looks directed at teenagers.
PS (In fairness to me, in was more how she reminded me of Helen Hunt than anything else. Still, not the point)
I think there is a tendency to think any man in one of the helping professions as possibly gay. That could well take in priests in the popular imagination, as it more famously does the same with male nurses, flight attendants, and even teachers and guidance counsellors.
You might say the gaydar of popular culture casts a very wide net these days. Someone on this board once said they always thought John Lithgow was gay (can’t find the thread; I think it’s too old). And I thought, why? He’s a versatile actor, and one notes a tendency to peculiar voice modulations in his comic roles, but I never thought he seemed gay. Just different. So being different makes you possibly gay these days, and who could be more different from the norm than a priest?
Do you have a citation for that? I think it’s more likely that what’s going on is a struggle for the definition of “gay” or “homosexual”. In PC usage, there is no easy way to distinguish someone who is attracted to someone of the same sex (sometimes abbreviated SSA) from someone who is actively participating in (or seeking, etc.) a sexual relationship with someone of the same sex. I think it’s likely that man strong statements which appear to be negative towards someone who is SSA are mostly intended to be against active homosexual relationships, and are trying to reinforce the teaching of sexual immorality as a serious sin. I can’t imagine how a man who is attracted to men but neither acts on it nor entertain immoral thoughts is any less appropriate to be a priest than a man who is attracted to women, but who neither acts on it nor entertain immoral thoughts.
Unfortunately for some SSA who may accept the teachings of the Catholic Church (or other churches with similar teachings) the nomenclature tug-of-war leaves them stuck between two worlds. I know that I (as a Mormon) have tried in the last several years to be very careful to stress the role of the love of Christ and the power of His Atonement as much as the rules we’ve been given.
1 I’ve noticed that the controversy centers on priests has any one studied the nuns for this type of behavior also?
2 Now back in the medieval days it wasn’t common for a “Deviant” to join the monastery in hopes of being reformed or paying penance I’d think this type of thinking prevailed well into this century even
3 All this is showing the catholic church needs reforming in its rules and theology but will it happen since the conservative clergy still seems to dominate it?
Maybe the church needs an another reformation but from the inside and start from the beginning
Just thoughts and questions that came to me as i read the posts