I suspect that I may get some rocks thrown at me for this column, but what is a columnist without an opinion? I most certainly DO have an opinion on the pedophile priests! In our town, (Louisville) we have just indicted another one, Father Louis E. Miller, who doesn't deserve the title, "Father." He is accused of 42 male child abuse cases, but the actual number is much, much higher. I saw him on TV yesterday as he was bailed out of jail by his brother. "Monster!" I heard myself say. I have heard about "Father" Miller for the last five or six years. I heard about him from my partner on the IV team. She is Catholic, and she would tell me accounts of this man and her hatred of him. The man she married was never able to get past the sexual abuse of this Father Miller, and was considered by my partner to be the reason that he never recovered, and the underlying reason for her divorce. "Father" Miller, of course, has pled, "not guilty." Miller is beneath revulsion. If this man were not a priest, there would have been no sanctuary for him. He would have been tried in a court of law years ago, served a sentence, and been made to register as a sex offender. He would have been seen as a scourge in any neighborhood he inhabited. I am reading accounts where congregations are standing and clapping and supporting some of these priests who are being defrocked. I find this appalling. What makes them different from your run-of-the-mill pedophiles? My opinion? They were pedophiles who were such before they ever went into the priesthood. The celibate priesthood was a cover for them, as they cunningly used the church as a sanctuary where they could continue to commit their evil deeds for their entire adult lives and, in many cases, until death. They left in their wake tormented, emotionally and mentally destroyed children. Some of these children, now adults, will never recover from the abuse of those whom they were taught to trust. Even now, the pedophile priest is often not seen as the vile creature he is. People are loathe to change long-held opinions. The priest is revered and seen as an instrument of God. To judge a priest of such a sin seemed sinful in itself. I blame no Catholic friend of mine, or yours, because they were duped. There are a lot of questions that have always gone unanswered to my satisfaction, about the required celibacy of priests and nuns. What I want to say here and now is that molesting children is not what a normal man would do to meet his needs, whether he is a priest or not. What these priests did was abominable, evil, inexcusable, and criminal. They should be treated like any other criminal. I admit that celibacy is puzzlement to me, but that is not the issue here. I know it is required of priests and nuns, but if they were given the option, would they make other choices? Would women enter the priesthood if they could? Perhaps they should be given that option, or at least the topic explored in conferences that are taking place. Our Methodist ministers are married, and I can't see that it hindered their ministry. Lutherans, Jews, Baptists, etc. all are allowed marriage. It isn't even an issue. I think that the decreasing number of young men entering the priesthood, the aging, defrocked and ostracized ones leaving, will certainly dramatically decrease the number of available priests. It's time that the eyes of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church open, and recognize the fact that we are dealing with human beings. Shouldn't priests and nuns have the choice to marry if they wish? Is it only for the church to decide? Perhaps it is for the individual to decide, within his or her own heart, and God, what path to take for his or her life. Furthermore, the secrecy that the Catholic hierarchy is trying to achieve in re. the pedophile priests, should never be tolerated. It is time to let the chips fall where they may. Get rid of the pedophiles. (I won't comment on how) and allow both Catholic men and women who want to be priests do so. Hopefully, known pedophiles will never be priests again. It is important to have self-respect and it is equally important to have respect for others. Some of these children who were deceived and used will never be emotionally healthy again.
Bless the children,