What secular media makes of statements that do not correspond to the worldview of the reporting journalists might well raise certain questions. But I was concerned with scandals that are more important than how I am being dealt with as a person.
You’re referring to the abuse scandals and their coverup?
Well, I would argue that the real scandal is that when it comes to this issue, clergy and employees of the Church are not sufficiently distinguishable from society overall. The apostle Paul admonished the Romans, "do not be conformed to this world." [[12:2]]
[But] sexual abuse - in whatever form - is anything but a specifically Catholic phenomenon.
How is that to be understood in this context?
The sexualization of society over decades - think of Oswalt Kolle and Beate Uhse - has left its mark on Catholics and those in the employ of the Church. This statement may help explain the heinousness of the transgressions, but is by no means an excuse!
[ed. Note: Oswalt Kolle was an author, filmmaker, advocate for the sexual revolution in Germany, prominent during the 1960s and 1970s. Beate Uhse AG is a German distributor of pornography, “sex toys,” and lingerie.]
In other words, the role and self-conception of the clergy are at the heart of the issue?
First of all, it must be emphatically emphasized that hundreds of thousands of priests and religious people faithfully and selflessly serve God and men. To put them under general suspicion is just as offensive as unjustified, considering the tiny percentage of abusers. On the other hand, it equally is an excessively narrow view of reality to look only at the Catholic Church.
But surely one must be differentiate between abuse in the Church and across society?
It would be no less unrealistic to forget or conceal that 80 percent of cases of abuse in the church context were perpetrated against male adolescents, not children. This relationship between abuse and homosexuality has been statistically proven - but it has nothing to do with homophobia, whatever one might mean by that term.
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How can sexual misconduct and abuse be prevented in principle? Irrespective of whether it is perpetrated against minors or adults, men or women?
In the first place it will be necessary, before any religious consideration, to once again refamiliarize and deepen our understanding of the principles of sexual morality brought about by human nature being that of man and woman. John Paul II, with his Theology of the Body, has made a groundbreaking contribution on this matter.
Surely such an understanding would particularly be required of the clergy, and anyone in a teaching capacity, both in terms of educating on this matter and themselves actually living it?
Indeed, this doctrinal teaching of John Paul II should also form the basis for the selection and formation of future priests and religious educators. Then we should pay attention to their psycho-physical constitution. However, it should not be forgotten that all of this is not just about psychology and sociology, but rather about recognizing a true vocation coming from God. Especially when it comes to priests! Only when these aspects are duly considered and taken into account can a candidate be admitted to ordination.
This is also what Pope Francis has said on several occasions.
By the way: Experienced rigor in the selection of candidates also leads to a higher attractiveness of the priestly profession.