A priest’s perspective on the Catholic Church’s systemic sexual abuse

Interview with the Rev. Kevin O’Brien, S.J., a Jesuit priest and dean of the Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University in California.

Fr. O’Brien and I discuss the Catholic Church’s systemic structure and how the Church has unintentionally created a system that has oppressed vulnerable community members.  We also discuss what the Church can to do earn the trust of its members, heal as a system and help those who have survived sexual abuse heal in the wake of oppressive practices.

One thought on “A priest’s perspective on the Catholic Church’s systemic sexual abuse

  1. Michael Ojo says:

    Sexuality is fundamental to the very depth of our beings. If we ignored it, we would miss the mark.

    1. Self-knowledge: I don’t think most people who embrace priesthood are really ruthless about their sexuality. They don’t. Do they? I don’t think so. This self-knowledge entails who am I? What is my peculiar sexuality? Do I keep virtue out of fear or it is out of personal conviction? Truth be told, let us not deceive ourselves here. Taking the vow of Chasity doesn’t stop a priest from committing sexual sin. It is not just about sexual sin. But, every priest must come to terms with the reality that he is a sexual being. He can falter. But, it doesn’t imply he will falter. Most priests know they can’t control their sexual passion but still carry it to the priesthood. Most carry sexual problems to priesthood. How? They are sexually wounded and not healed before they are raised to the order of presbyterate.

    2. We know grace is built on nature. Is there any platform priests can discuss their sexual needs. At this point, we need to be realistic. We need to be down to earth. Sexual abuse cannot stop. This is not to sound pessimistic. There will always be some bad examples. Of course, we are all striving to be holy. Sexual purity is not achievable on platter of gold. Apart from clericalism, another problem is pride and being secretive about sexuality. From my personal experience, I have come to realise that keeping sexual purity requires the Grace of God and our cooperation. We must also review our stand on celibacy. Of course, celibacy has no problem but people who practice it. Why must we pretend a man who is full of life and sexually okay not to fall into sexual sin? We tend to think individuals can take care of their sexual and emotional needs. Ask any priest if he doesn’t feel to have and hold at some point in his life? Yes. A priest is presented as a model of good example and if he messes up, people are quick to raise an eyebrow. We need the power of the Holy Spirit to live a virtuous life. We need faith community to help support emotionally and morally when a priest is down. Not in the negative way. Women are not evil. They are priests who actually want to do well but their passion is getting in their way. We need the help of one another to grow. We must be strong in the face of this crisis and pray to God to help us.

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