• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

ONE WEEK TO DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!

We are inching along, but not as quickly as we (or you) would like. If you have already donated, thank you so much. If you haven’t had a chance, consider skipping the coffee this week and drop CounterPunch $5 or more. We provide our content for free, but it costs us a lot to do so. Every dollar counts.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Sex Among the Sacred

An evolving sex scandal involving dozens of Roman Catholic priests and their often young parishioners has the media focusing on sexual predators concealed for decades within religious institutions. Complete with cover-ups by higher-ups, the disturbing stories of sex among the sacred has gained a life of its own in the mainstream media.

Over the past weekend, retiring Roman Catholic Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee “apologized” for having his archdiocese pay $450,000 to a 54-year-old man who said he had been sexually assaulted by the archbishop 22 years ago. On May 28, 2002 while visiting with the Pope in Rome, President George W. Bush said , “I am concerned about the Catholic Church in America.” Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer said the sex scandal was mentioned in the context of how it is damaging the influence of the Catholic Church in U.S. society.

On May 28, 2002, Dateline NBC ‘s lead story dealt with allegations of widespread child molestation within the Jehovah’s Witnesses religious organization that has been kept secret. Former Church elder Bill Bowen called the Jehovah’s Witnesses a “pedophile’s paradise.” Mr. Bowen maintains a web site that documents the shocking abuse: http://www.silentlambs.org/.

Here in Columbia, South Carolina on May 26, 2002, The State newspaper revealed that the 5,500 member First Baptist Church is facing a lawsuit alleging a church deacon working as a youth volunteer raped a 12 year-old girl he knew through the church. The suit also alleges that the church’s pastor failed to check the deacon’s past criminal record of such abuse and ignored parent’s complaints about him.

What’s new? Remember Sinclair Lewis’ “Elmer Gantry”, a 1927 novel and 1960 movie that satirized the life of a slick and sleazy preacher who used and abused his congregants as prey for sex, money and power. Gantry, the ever-upwardly-mobile evangelist employed sex to save-the-souls of his young female believers. Throughout human history, religious dogma has distorted the beauty and reality of human sexuality into an ugly aberration of guilt and repression.

When those “closest to God” in the priesthood and higher echelons of the Roman Catholic Church take the vows of celibacy, they purposefully turn away from the “aims and desires of the world.” Turning away from the “aims and desires of the world” is a most unnatural course for those who are the ultimate purveyors of spiritual advice on human sexuality to all the Roman Catholics in the world. Antiquated and unrealistic doctrines about sex like celibacy and chastity were not of the Hebrew tradition. The first words God utters to Adam and Eve are found in Genesis 1:28: “Be fruitful and multiply.” The Christian Church has used a presumption that Jesus never married or engaged in sexual activity, but no biblical or authoritative sources in the early Christian communities affirm his celibacy.

Some contemporary Catholic theologians suggest that behind the image of Jesus-the-celibate-male lies an imbedded sexism that seeks to support a social system affording men dominance and privilege. The thought of a non-celibate Jesus was an anathema to the Church Fathers of the first centuries who established the connection between sex and sin. St. Ambrose wrote that, “The ministerial office must be kept pure and unspoiled and must not be defiled by coitus.” St. Augustine (354-430) became the Church’s greatest advocate for celibacy. He felt sex was always tainted and the “original sin” of Adam could only be passed on by intercourse and conception. Remarkably, St. Augustine said he considered an erect penis a visible sign of man’s inner revolt against God.

Celibacy was used to expand the political power of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. It was used to separate every priest from the economic and political ties of family inheritance and local politics and bring them into a powerful international bureaucracy centered in Rome. The Church’s economic power was further enhanced as celibacy was used to discontinue the inheritance of real estate from priest to son. The Church became the owner as celibacy made Rome a power broker in real estate.

Meanwhile, monastic orders gained great power from mandatory celibacy in the 11th and 12th centuries. Catholic scholars describe the phenomena of monastic homosexual activity as reaching proportions that the Church had never known previously. The celibacy-centered monastic movement and its asceticism also found a powerful ally in St. Thomas Aquinas who taught that women were inferior beings whose bodies cause their emotions to rule over reason. Celibacy’s sordid history is based on the pursuit of power. The issues of birth control and women in the clergy lurk behind the ugly revelations of sexual improprieties among the men in the clergy.

Religion’s reactionary role in defining human sexuality from the denial of birth control to the doctrine of celibacy in the priest hood is shameful. President George W. Bush’s order to cut off U.S. financial support for global population control efforts was political pandering to right-wing religious zealots. Using religion to gain a big turnout of your “base” vote by engaging in a political act that allows millions of unwanted and uncared for babies to be born in poor countries is disgraceful. It is wrong to debase your vow as a cleric by having sex with a young parishioner. It is also evil to use narrow, irrational, religious dogma for political purposes.

Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer, and civil rights activist in Columbia, South Carolina. http://www.turnipseed.net

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
October 21, 2019
Jeffrey St. Clair
The Wolf at the Door: Adventures in Fundraising With Cockburn
Rev. William Alberts
Myopic Morality: The Rehabilitation of George W. Bush
Sheldon Richman
Let’s Make Sure the Nazis Killed in Vain
Horace G. Campbell
Chinese Revolution at 70: Twists and Turns, to What?
Jim Kavanagh
The Empire Steps Back
Ralph Nader
Where are the Influentials Who Find Trump Despicable?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Poll Projection: Left-Leaning Jagmeet Singh to Share Power with Trudeau in Canada
Thomas Knapp
Excuses, Excuses: Now Hillary Clinton’s Attacking Her Own Party’s Candidates
Brian Terrell
The United States Air Force at Incirlik, Our National “Black Eye”
Paul Bentley
A Plea for More Cynicism, Not Less: Election Day in Canada
Walter Clemens
No Limits to Evil?
Robert Koehler
The Collusion of Church and State
Kathy Kelly
Taking Next Steps Toward Nuclear Abolition
Charlie Simmons
How the Tax System Rewards Polluters
Chuck Collins
Who is Buying Seattle? The Perils of the Luxury Real Estate Boom
Weekend Edition
October 18, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Anthony DiMaggio
Trump as the “Anti-War” President: on Misinformation in American Political Discourse
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Where’s the Beef With Billionaires?
Rob Urie
Capitalism and the Violence of Environmental Decline
Paul Street
Bernie in the Deep Shit: Dismal Dem Debate Reflections
Andrew Levine
What’s So Awful About Foreign Interference?
T.J. Coles
Boris Johnson’s Brexit “Betrayal”: Elect a Clown, Expect a Pie in Your Face
Joseph Natoli
Trump on the March
Ashley Smith
Stop the Normalization of Concentration Camps
Pete Dolack
The Fight to Overturn the Latest Corporate Coup at Pacifica Has Only Begun
Jeremy Kuzmarov
Russophobia at Democratic Party Debate
Chris Gilbert
Forward! A Week of Protest in Catalonia
Daniel Beaumont
Pressing Done Here: Syria, Iraq and “Informed Discussion”
Daniel Warner
Greta the Disturber
John Kendall Hawkins
Journey to the Unknown Interior of (You)
M. G. Piety
“Grim Positivism” vs. Truthiness in Biography
Christopher Fons – Conor McMullen
The Centrism of Elizabeth Warren
Nino Pagliccia
Peace Restored in Ecuador, But is trust?
Rebecca Gordon
Extorting Ukraine is Bad Enough But Trump Has Done Much Worse
Kathleen Wallace
Trump Can’t Survive Where the Bats and Moonlight Laugh
Clark T. Scott
Cross-eyed, Fanged and Horned
Eileen Appelbaum
The PR Campaign to Hide the Real Cause of those Sky-High Surprise Medical Bills
Olivia Alperstein
Nuclear Weapons are an Existential Threat
Colin Todhunter
Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: Trading Away Indian Agriculture?
Sarah Anderson
Where is “Line Worker Barbie”?
Brian Cloughley
Yearning to Breathe Free
Jill Richardson
Why are LGBTQ Rights Even a Debate?
Jesse Jackson
What I Learn While Having Lunch at Cook County Jail
Kathy Kelly
Death, Misery and Bloodshed in Yemen
Maximilian Werner
Leadership Lacking for Wolf Protection
Arshad Khan
The Turkish Gambit
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail