The embarrassment of the New York Times, Ross Douthat, seems to think that liberals are at least partially to blame for the fact that Catholic priests have been raping the hell out of children for decades:

Liberal Catholics, echoed by the secular press, insist that the whole problem can be traced to clerical celibacy. Conservatives blame the moral relativism that swept the church in the upheavals of the 1970s, when the worst abuses and cover-ups took place.

In reality, the scandal implicates left and right alike. The permissive sexual culture that prevailed everywhere, seminaries included, during the silly season of the ’70s deserves a share of the blame, as does that era’ overemphasis on therapy. (Again and again, bishops relied on psychiatrists rather than common sense in deciding how to handle abusive clerics.) But it was the church’ conservative instincts ‚Äî the insistence on institutional loyalty, obedience and the absolute authority of clerics ‚Äî that allowed the abuse to spread unpunished.

Wait, when in the 1970’s was child rape part of the “permissive sexual culture”? Just curious!


Here’s why this is happening:

1. Enforced celibacy is not only weird, it’s completely unnatural. Hetero- or homo-, we have bodies and brains that are wired for intimacy with other consenting human beings. Normal human beings can go through non-sexual dry spells, but that’s entirely different from “You may not have intimacy with another person.”

2. Because of the rape culture environment of the Catholic church, people are pressured and shamed into relegating their sexuality to the strictures of, oh what do you know, celibate men:

Rape culture crops up when male power over women and children is exalted, when sexuality is demonized, and when men are encouraged to think of women (and children’) bodies as their property. All these aspects of patriarchy aren’t only part of the Catholic church, they’re celebrated. The exuberant love of male dominance that is the Catholic dogma is going to turn men into rapists who get a rise out of sexually dominated people they believe are lesser than them.



Rape culture specifically likes to make big distinctions between different kinds of rape. Part of this is innocent enough—attacking children is a special kind of horror, after all. But when we put rape of women in one category and rape of children in another and rape of men in another, we’re discouraging people from seeing the connections. But there is a line between tolerating the abuse of women and tolerating the abuse of children. In a culture where male sexuality is assumed to be domineering and debasing, then some men will, for various reasons, skip right past raping women on to raping children.

3. Likewise, because sexuality, and along with it, sexual paraphilias and disorders, are taught to be good and evil and, again, in need of reconciliation with the ruling men in dresses and fancy hats, those with psychosexual issues often end up signing up for the only life they think might protect them from themselves: the celibate priesthood. The underlying issues, however, remain unaddressed.

4. Finally, this thing has festered for decades because the dominance of the Catholic church is hanging on by a thread in the developed world, and they care much more about protecting the church than they do about any pesky 10 year old rape victims. Educated people are leaving the church in droves, and though the church is having some success in recruiting starving people in the third world by giving them false hope for a better life, they’re also doing their part to kill those very same people with their discredited, sex-shaming policies on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention. So the faster it becomes public knowledge just how widespread the Catholic child rape problem is, the more people (including their own parishioners) will realize that the jig is up and that they really don’t need to be opening their souls and their pocketbooks to men in white frocks who just might have been diddling their children thirty minutes ago.

So there you have it. Maybe one day the Times will realize what a disastrous mistake they made when they hired Douthat, but I’m not holding out hope.