Parents: What are You Telling Your Kids about the Sex Crimes?

With the Catholic church and the priests in the news regarding sexual abuse among the ranks, what are you telling your children? Do you defend the “Church” but condemn the sinners? Do you discuss the flaws in their system? Do you allow them to participate in church activities? Have they expressed anxiety over the situation? Are they afraid? I’m curious…

… Or do you tell 'em, “See, that’s why we’re not Catholic”?

(ducking and running)

It explains why the Boy Scouts prohibit homosexuals from their organization, something the media in general is loathe to explore, obviously. (It’s taking longer than we thought)

I answer whatever questions my kids ask. I don’t need to defend the Church.The Church is not the priests and the hierarchy, but the people .My children understand both that concept and the concept that priests are men, not God, and therefore are as capable of sin as anyone else.They still participate in Church activities.

Tedster The Boy Scouts explicitly stated on at least one ocassion that their ban of homosexual leaders was not based on fears of sexual abuse, but on the moralityof homosexuality. They have a pretty strict “Youth Protection Policy” which applies to all leaders, but still, they’ve had their own scandals in the past (including keeping quiet when an accused leader moved and joined a new troop), and just in the last couple of days a Scoutmaster in NYC was convicted of abusing one of the boys in his troop.

The reason I allow my children to still participate in Chuch ( and Boy Scout) activities is because in every case of sexual abuse I’ve heard of in either organization, something happened that would have set bells off in my head.It is never appropriate for a priest to invite an altar boy to sleep over, or for a Scout leader to take a single Scout camping, or for either a priest or a Scout leader to spend a large amount of time with an individual boy.


Pedophilia does not equal homosexuality.

In fact, as has been cited recently in the Pit, very often the adult sexual orientation of the molester has nothing to do with the gender of the person who gets molested.

Many pedophiles, in fact, have no adult sexual orientation - they are attracted exclusively to children - of either gender.

If you want to continue in this vein, let us kindly take it to another thread, rather than dragging this one the rest of the way off topic.

As to the OP - I don’t have children, but if I did what I would tell them would depend largely on:

a) their age
b) their awareness of what’s been happening (I happily avoided the news until I was seventeen or so, and would have had no clue about any of this)
c) Opal
d) the questions they asked me

I never claimed “pedophelia equals homosexuality” although the media is doing a good job of that I guess. The fact is, most of the priestly buggery deals with teenaged boys, nearly adults, not children.

I haven’t told my son anything. But then, he’s only two-and-a-half, and the only questions he asks regularly is whether or not he can hang from the ceiling fan. :slight_smile:

And while homosexuality != pedophelia, IMO the Catholic Church has sown the seeds for these scandals with their decades-long condemnation of homosexuality. From what I’ve been reading, some of these folks got into the priesthood because they were confused about their homosexual feelings in their teenage years, and thought that joining the clergy would “fix” the problem. If the Church had accepted homosexuality sooner, then we wouldn’t have these gay folks trying to supress their sexuality and getting bent out of shape (figuratively speaking) as a result.

Doreen, I disagree that the church is solely made up of “the people”. They are governed by a group of leaders who make the rules and regulations. The people, particularly in the Catholic church, have voiced their opinions time and again, and the pope almost never gives way to secular viewpoints.

As far as looking up to these people as leaders, I would have a hard time asking my kids to follow a group of men who are hell-bent on protecting the law breakers amongst them. Also, many of these incidents happened when other children were around, i.e., group camping trips, or in the church when others were around doing their church chores. It sounds like you’re trying to blame the parents for not hearing the bells going off.

This is a good question, and I don’t want to hijack it.

I’d just like to reflect to Doreen that it’s my understanding that the Scouts (and I was one, and a junior assistant scoutmaster, in my youth) do not make the distinction between orientation and act, and extend this both to their leaders and to the boys themselves. If one of your boys admitted that he was curious about what it’d be like to have sex with another boy, he would be immediately subject to being thrown out of Scouting altogether. When you hear of people being offended with Scouting for its anti-gay stance, remember that it’s not exclusively whether an adult gay man can be a role model for the boys, but whether they’re excluding some boys themselves as “evil” by their standards. That judgmentalism is why I’m against BSA – if they think gobear is a poor role model for the boys, that’s their loss (I don’t), but if they throw out a 13-year-old for being honest (required by the Scout Oath) about his sexuality, then they’re being Pharisaical, hypocritical, and judgmental.

rjung wrote:

The centuries-long insistence that Catholic priests must be completely celibate – even masturbation is forbidden – might have something to do with it too.

How, precisely? I see this tossed around a lot in the wake of this scandal, but it doesn’t really make sense to me. There are plenty of men in non-Catholic, and non-Christian, monastic orders who have managed to successfully live celibate or chaste lives; I don’t know that the Catholic requirement of celibacy for its clergy is really a factor here. I do agree with rjung’s comments, though.

Curiously, though, I think there is a corollary to your comment that is worth noting. The fact that, even as members of the clergy, these men still sought sexual contact, should indicate to certain “Christian Right” political activists that an abstinence-only education isn’t going to keep anyone from having sex.


“Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain.”

I didn’t mean that the Church is solely made up of the people, only that it includes the people (and the many, many priests who have done nothing wrong ). I see nothing wrong with them being role models. And I won’t condemn the Church because some of the leaders didn’t follow its teachings, anymore than I would condemn America because some of its leaders have broken its laws.

I’m sorry if it sounded like I blamed the parents. I don’t. I don’t know enough to. Most of the incidents coming to light now happened in the past, some up to 30 years ago. That was a different time, and it’s quite possible that people were more trusting then (or just more trusting than I am). And there were some incidents where there were a couple of kids around-the significant words, to me , are "couple " and “kids”. A priest accompanying the parish Boy Scout troop and their leaders camping is appropriate.A priest taking three boys camping by himself is not. In all honesty, I can’t think of a legitimate reason why one, two or three kids should be in the company of a priest with enough privacy to allow molestation. And that’s why I allow my kids to participate in church activities. If I hear about a priest molesting a child in the sacristy five minutes before the full church expects Mass to begin, or molesting one kid in the Confirmation class while 30 others are present, I’ll rethink it.

You’re correct, the BSA doesn’t distinguish between sexuality and orientation. I was just pointing out the the BSA explicitly stated that the objection was not because of a fear of molestation.

Most of the priestly buggery deals with teenage girls who are nearly adults actually.

Well, maybe not in this thread . . .

That’s from Asimov, isn’t it? I just started reading that book today.

Apparently the media is loathe to describe the priests as homosexuals, thus the “Pedophile Priest” moniker (which is catchy) and deflects any criticism that might come from “those people”… Who’s going to defend a child molester in print? Nobody, practically. The fact remains, however that most of the abuse is directed towards teenaged boys, not children. Oh Well.

And PL, for the record, I never once claimed (in that other thread) that folks buggering little boys are homosexuals, only that they aren’t strictly speaking, heterosexual. A crucial difference that escapes most. Good try, though.

Daoloth: No, it’s Schiller.

To address the OP: We’re not Catholic, my kids haven’t asked me, and I haven’t seen a need to volunteer any information.

I guess I should have put this in the OP, but I sort of just thought of it:

Any of you who are Catholic, have you or your children lost faith? I also want to know if the clergy addresses any of this in the weekly sermon. It seems to me it would be rather “telling” if they didn’t discuss it in church when every tv and newspaper is addressing it almost daily.

I’m Catholic, with no kids.

I’ve heard at least five sermons explicitly on this subject since the news broke (two sermons given by the same priest at different times, even). I’ve heard at least two others where the subject was alluded to. The prevailing theme is that this is a time of purification for the Church, that it was so good that this has come to light because reform and healing can now begin.

I admit that my human faith in the clergy was shaken a bit, but not my spiritual faith in Christ.

When I went to the service on Good Friday, at one point I found myself with the impulse to look around at the congregation and all the priests and deacons around the altar (I went to the National Shrine in DC, so there were 20-30 priests up there), and think about how much love we all had for God and how good that is, but I couldn’t do it. I wasn’t sure that that was true. That made me feel bad, but I couldn’t help it.

But then later in the service, there was a moment when the veiled crucifix was unveiled and people (in our case, just the priests and deacons because of the size of the congregation) were invited to kiss the crucifix. I saw that most kissed the feet, but two kissed the knees. This puzzled me for a few moments, and then I remembered that it’s traditionally “known” that when Jesus fell on his knees for the third time when He carried the cross to Calvary, He was making reparation for the sins of the clergy. (For example, the visionary Luisa Picaretta writes about this in her “Hours of the Passion.”) That was a comfort to me, that they were as disturbed as I was.

I’m very sorry that the evil that some priests have done has made me look at their brothers with narrowed eyes. There are a lot of good priests. My family is good friends with an old Italian priest who lived in Rome during WWII, who hid Jewish families in his rectory and risked his life administering last rites to the wounded in the streets as bombs fell around his ears. To me, that man is the closest model of Christ I have ever encountered, and I try to remind myself now that there are many others like him…don’t lose heart.