Those who know me also know that my older brother was a Catholic priest. He died in 2011. Anyone who knew Fr. Steve Tokarski also knew that he was a man of impeccable character and credentials. Nary a hint of scandal came within a thousand miles of him during his life, and for good reason.
The logo to the left, taken from a Meanwhile in Art post, was designed for a Catholic Archdiocesan Youth Commission in 1973, and seems appropriate. It won an award at that time, and now appears creepy. But there is a reason for the misbehavior of priests.
I can explain part of it. I do not condone it. I can explain the behavior of an abused child who in turn abuses other children as an adult. That does not mean that jail sentences, shame and shunning are not in order. Explaining does not justify.
My brother endured the same training as most priests of that era. It was rigidly disciplined. The young men entered the seminary right after high school, and were confined to a campus with others of similar ambition. They lived a life of prayer, study, and discipline. Part of it was a nightly shut down where they were confined to quarters after dinner and prayer, and had to maintain silence until morning prayers. They were not allowed to wander or interact with any but their roommates. Any secret fraternization with roommates would lead to expulsion. Surely it went on, but was not condoned.
Of course, there was an over-representation of homosexuals in those communities, as the priesthood was one occupation where non-involvement with women was seen as normal. The important thing to remember is that sexual development was stifled at that age.
Later, when these men entered the unsupervised life, and were given power over children, they picked up where they left off in development. Sex is a far more powerful motivator of human behavior than religious belief. They really made a mess of things, these men, and perhaps all thorough European history, only to be recently outed. It’s about time.
The men in question are a problem, of course, but a passing one – they are either removed from power or have stopped the behavior to a large degree, as they are again scrutinized as in seminary years. The problem is the notion of celibacy. There exists among fundamentalist Christians a cloak of righteousness wherein sexual impulses are repressed (and which emerge in aberrant behavior of many kinds). Among Catholics, asexuality was made saintly.
It all needs to stop. Catholic priests need wives and husbands* and partners, need to sneak room-to-room in their training years, and to develop into fully functioning and mature adults in all manners of human behaviors and attitudes. It’s the only answer.
I write this as a man who spent twelve years of his life under supervision of cloistered and supposedly asexual women wearing heavy garments and crosses. C’mon, gals. It’s OK now. C’mon out.
*Of course there should be woman priests! Why is that even discussed?