|The Association for the
Rights of Catholics in the Church seeks to unmask and dismantle the structures
of unjust dominance wherever they exist. Consequently, we deplore and condemn
any and all cases of sexual attacks by priests, whether the victims are
women, men, or minors.
We realize that on the surface
these acts appear to be caused by enforced celibacy. However, among the
laity there is no evidence that being married or having opportunities to
engage in consensual sex keeps would-be rapists or child molesters from
assaulting their victims. Pedophiles suffer from a serious psychosexual
mental disorder; in the general population most are married heterosexuals.
Rapists are not primarily motivated by a quest for sexual gratification.
Rape is a crime of violence in which sexuality is used as the weapon of
choice. Rapists view their victims as objects whom they want to degrade
in order to gain power over them. We define rape as non-consensual sexual
relations involving physical or psychological force.
Of course, there are also
cases of mutual love and consensual sex involving priests and their partners.
In those cases, the rule of celibacy may keep the couple from getting married.
It may also be their motivation to resort to abortion. These cases must
be considered separately from sexual assaults. Individuals involved in
such cases -- especially if the woman is a religious -- are indeed victims
of enforced celibacy and clericalism.
While we do not agree that
celibacy directly causes sexual assaults, we believe that enforced celibacy
is itself a sexual assault on the priests who are its victims and that
consequently it contributes to the vicious cycle of the abused turning
into abusers. By claiming authority over the most intimate aspects of a
priest's manhood, church leaders (who are themselves products of the same
deforming formation process) keep him on a leash in a subordinate and semi-infantile
role. The relatively powerless tend to compensate by further subjecting
those over whom they have control. Hence enforced celibacy – in contrast
to freely chosen celibacy – contributes to a tendency within the church
to discourage all members, clerical and lay, from turning into independent
thinkers and responsible adults.
Finally, and most importantly,
we believe that the Catholic Church suffers from one cardinal sin that
is the systemic cause of such diverse pathological symptoms as demanding
loyalty oaths from pastors, forbidding the ordination of women, promoting
oppressive bishops, and covering up the crimes of priests in order to avoid
giving scandal to the poor, simple faithful. This primal flaw is the ancient
sin of the arrogant lust for power legitimized by presumed perfection.
Ultimately, the institution bases its authority on power rather than service,
on demands for unquestioning obedience rather than love. Since the institutional
church is in the hands of human beings and human beings are flawed, deceit
is justified in terms of Machiavellian utility. The illusion of perfection
must be maintained at any cost. Thus clerical rapists and pedophiles tend
to be rewarded by being transferred and at times even promoted, while their
victims are blamed and often find themselves disgraced, forced to abort,
and sworn to silence. After all, women have been held responsible for seducing
men since Adam succumbed to Eve. In addition, the natural tendency toward
secretive behavior of sexual predators and their victims is reinforced
by the policy of church officials to shield priests while blaming their
By continuing our efforts
to democratize the church and empower all the People of God, ARCC is determined
to confront and expose this unholy marriage of arrogance and sanctimonious
30 March 2001
to related ARCC Press Release