A priest who has campaigned on behalf of victims of clerical sexual abuse for more than three decades has criticized the Catholic Church’s ‘toxic and misguided teaching’ on human sexuality.
Anon lawyer Fr Tom Doyle linked the crisis of the Church’s mishandling of allegations of abuse and abuse to “a misconception of clergy and bishops as the essence of the Church” which are “essential for salvation”.
He warned that there was “still a lot of pushback and resistance in the church” towards victims of abuse.
“The good of the Church really means the good of the ecclesiastical aristocracy,” he said.
Speaking during a “Stolen Lives: Abuse and Corruption in the Catholic Church” webinar, hosted by secular reform group Root & Branch Reform, he said: “It’s not a few bad apples in the barrel that pose a problem, it’s the barrel.
According to him, “the violation of the most innocent in the Church is a scourge which neutralizes all that is Christian in Catholicism”.
Father Doyle, who served as a pilot in the US Air Force and was one of the first to highlight the sexual abuse of children by priests in the 1980s, denounced “the unrealistic idea that priests and bishops are sacred exalted beings” which he said still exists in the church and prevents many people from speaking out.
The priest said this belief, which had created “a clerical aristocracy” in the church, needed to be changed.
“We all know what clericalism is. It’s a disease. It is a virus that the Catholic Church has, which means that the clergy and the clerical way of life and its values come first. This is total nonsense,” he said.
Calling on the laity to ‘stop tolerating a clerical church’, he said they needed to challenge the hierarchy when they saw evidence of clericalism which ‘fuels the constant and systemic nightmare of child and adult sexual abuse. by clerics and non-ordained religious”. .
The abuse crisis also stems from the emphasis on protecting the prestige, power and economic resources of the Church’s hierarchical system, he said.
Father Doyle said that at the top of the hierarchy was “a small aristocracy who ran the whole show while the rest of us were at the bottom”.
“If you look at the positions of power, the men who actually decide, about 3,000 men run the Catholic Church.
“They are all bishops. None of them were married, presumably.
“Certainly none of them were parents presumably, because if they had been parents, they would have clearly understood the horror of what was happening to children.”
On the issue of compulsory celibacy, he told the webinar, “It seems to me that in some ways you have to be more Christlike to be a husband or wife or parent than to be a priest because you need to learn what it means to be altruistic.
“You constantly have to get up in the middle of the night to take care of sick kids, you support your kids when they make mistakes, you get them out of jail, you do all these things.”
He warned that the majority of abuse victims still suffer in ‘cocoons of guilt, shame, fear and silence’ as studies have shown that only 37% of those who have been raped come forward and reveal what that happened to them.