A sense of entitlement
prevailing among ordained men
is conducive to exploitative behavior.
The issue is not
whether the men are gay or straight,
but that they have, by reason of their clerical status,
access to privilege and power
within the ecclesial community that insulates them
This clergy/lay, top-down structure
conditions relationships and functions in the church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says
ordination confers an indelible spiritual character on a priest
that cannot be repeated or conferred temporarily
and marks him permanently.
A priest is seen as ontologically different from a layperson.
His place in the hierarchical structure reflects this difference.
His roles as a sacramental presider
and as a decision-maker are contingent on it.
Moreover, the institution that pays, feeds and eventually buries him
is built to maintain its own well-being as well as his;
he is expected to exhibit similar loyalty to the institution.
No wonder bishops and superiors
have re-assigned, covered up and otherwise protected clerical criminals.
That is simply how the system works,
not some rare, anomalous case
as any honest participant would affirm.
Even if all of the U.S. bishops were to be fired from their posts
and be replaced with yet more clerics,
little would improve.
The structure, not just individuals who err,
is the problem and structures can be changed.
But when all is said and done,
in church circles, priests’ most heinous crimes
and most egregious breaches of trust
merely consign them to lay status,
where the rest of us live our entire lives.
Something is radically wrong with this picture.