Father Regis Scanlon thinks he has a solution to the rampant sexual abuse within the Catholic Church: Seminaries should refuse to admit any man who, in the past year, has ever had an impure thought or masturbated.
They should just set fire to the pile of applications and save themselves time.
Jesus taught that “anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart”… Is it really necessary to explain to Catholics why it is also true to say that, if a man lust [sic] after another man, he has already committed “sodomy” with him in his heart?
The Church has always taught that masturbation is “an intrinsically and gravely disordered action” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2352). Similarly, as Jesus said, entertaining impure thoughts (adultery in the heart) is a violation of the ten commandments which bind always and everywhere (Catechism. No. 2072). So, both entertaining impure thoughts and masturbation are intrinsically evil acts. This is the constant teaching of the Church.
Oddly enough, most people who masturbate and entertain lustful thoughts don’t commit child rape.
Throughout the entire article, Scanlon treats “homosexuality” as synonymous with “pedophilia,” inadvertently showing his audience he doesn’t understand either group. At one point, he even says the Church’s “focus on protecting pre-pubescent children enabled the problem of homosexuality among bishops to escape the notice of the Catholic Church almost entirely.” As if homosexuality was ever a problem or a cause of the sex abuse scandals.
If you’re looking for a root cause for abuse, the prohibition on priests having sex of any kind, even in marriage, may have something to do with it. But even then, it’s a prohibition the priests agreed to when they went into the vocation. It’s not like it was forced upon them against their will.
And if anything, masturbation helps them stay celibate.
Not that Scanlon is willing to admit that.
Early in seminary life these young men engage in sexual fantasies and masturbation, then after they’re ordained, they are so weakened spiritually that they cannot resist temptations of impurity when they arise in ministry.
So, here is a final recommendation for solving the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Church. And this recommendation applies to heterosexual men in relation to women as it does to homosexual men in relation to other men. No seminarian or religious should be admitted into a seminary, religious life, vows or ordination who cannot refrain from entertaining impure thoughts and masturbation for at least one year.
There you go, Catholic Church. By following this advice, you would either empty out your entire pool of applicants… or make sure the only people who enter seminary are liars.
What constitutes a lustful thought, anyway? Is it allowing your eyes to linger a bit on an attractive person? Glancing at the model on the cover of a magazine? Thinking about a woman precisely because you know you’re not supposed to be thinking about a woman?
Unrealistic expectations aside, it’s infuriating that Scanlon confuses — perhaps deliberately — homosexuality with pedophilia. While both acts are theoretically condemned by the Church, only one is actually harmful. But given the Church’s history of sheltering abusive priests from the law, it’s not surprising that Scanlon doesn’t understand consent.
Curbing lustful thoughts and masturbation won’t make a bit of difference when it comes to protecting children. What would make a difference is if the Church took allegations seriously enough to help law enforcement officials punish those priests to the fullest extent of the law.
By the way, Scanlon isn’t just some random priest. He’s the “spiritual director and chaplain for Mother Teresa of Calcutta’s Missionaries of Charity in Denver.” We already knew Mother Teresa was problematic in her lifetime. And just last month, we learned of a scandal involving Mother Teresa’s nuns selling babies. Now this.
Common sense and reasoned arguments are apparently in short supply in this organization.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Kerri for the link)