Denes McIntosh: Catholic confessional recruiting ground for pedophile priests | TheUnion.com

Denes McIntosh: Catholic confessional recruiting ground for pedophile priests

Denes McIntosh
Other Voices

As individuals, and as a culture, it wouldn't hurt to go to confession.

In fact it could help. I'm not advocating that anyone necessarily do the traditional Catholic Church confession, although that is a sound option for some adults, but I am suggesting that confession is a good practice, however one might choose to engage in it.

But I want to illuminate how confession is used in the Catholic Church, secretly, to enable, and perpetuate its long-standing culture of pedophilia. We are all aware of the culture, some more than others. It's been in the news enough the past few years to allow anyone to be informed who is interested in being informed. But what troubles me is that after all the headlines, the few arrests, the payoffs, the proclamations by the pope, the bishops and the other PR spokespersons for the Church, there has still not been any significant investigation into how such a culture could develop, to become, and remain, ensconced so profoundly in the Church.

It's as if the public wishes to believe that it's all cleaned up now, so it is all cleaned up now. But that's like pretending that after the Major League Baseball steroid scandal, and all the attention paid to it, that there are no longer any more steroids being used in baseball. Actually, we just got tired of the issue.

It is kids being scarred for life by supposed representatives of God, whom they have been conditioned to trust and respect.

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But, pedophilia in the Church is not just a bunch of overpaid athletes poking themselves in the backside with a syringe. It is kids being scarred for life by supposed representatives of God, whom they have been conditioned to trust and respect. There can be no more abhorrent abuse of power and trust imaginable.

I know how this culture feeds itself. I'm not the smartest guy on the planet, but if I know, how is it that the church supposedly doesn't know, or the pope, or the authorities, or the parents of these children?

I was raised in the Catholic Church; went to Catholic school first through ninth grades and, as a child, did the whole confession thing every Thursday morning with the rest of my schoolmates. We went and sat in the church as a class and one by one took our turn in the confessional telling a priest our secrets and sins.

We knelt in the confessional booth, and the priest sat in the booth in the dark on the other side of a screen. Only God knows what he was doing in there. It was kind of mysterious, and it was kind of scary. But we told the priest our impure thoughts (of which, as young boys, there were always many), how many times we touched ourselves during the past week, how many times we tried to look up Megan's dress, or down her blouse, and the number of lies that we told our parents. Things like that. A kid's confession. The priest would ask us about some of our "sins," and then give us absolution (forgiveness). Now, what's wrong with this picture? And people still ask, "How is it that priests target their victims?"

Well, that's exactly how it happens. And that's how it continues to happen.

We always wondered why some of the boys at the school were chosen to spend special days with the priests at the rectory (priest's house), and others weren't. And why some boys were invited to be altar boys, and others weren't. I was (I got to help the priest get dressed for Mass, and undressed after it was over). Very icky vibes. I was just a boy, and I was aware that something was not right. And it always felt just a little bit creepy how a priest might relate to me during the week following my confession.

And I remember wondering why priests just disappeared from the church, or school. Here one day, gone the next. We were always told that they had been "called back, unexpectedly, to Ireland." Now I know that the Church was feeling heat, and they were reassigned.

I will just say this to any practicing Catholics who have children attending Catholic school. Do not ever let them go to confession, and particularly if their school is connected to that church. Confession is for adults, anyway. Let the kids be kids, for Christ's sake.

Here's what I think. No male priest should ever hear a child's, an adolescent's, or a woman's confession. If the church insists on continuing the practice, the privilege should at least be given to nuns, who would (conceivably) be more trustworthy in matters of sexual exploitation.

Unless the Church is willing to deal honestly with how the culture of pedophilia exists, and change its historical structure, then I would advocate that civil authorities investigate the practice of confession within the Catholic Church in the same way they have investigated child grooming in the Mormon church. I am not one to welcome the intrusion of government into private life, but the cultish practices that perpetuate the abuse of children in the Church need to be brought to light. If not by the Church hierarchy (and that's not going to happen), then by any means necessary.

I believe in the redemptive power of confession … for adults; but it is a personal matter that may, or may not, include the participation of a priest.

Parents, keep your children out of the recruiting grounds. Keep them out of the confessional. Priests do not need to hear the supposed sins of our little ones.

Denes McIntosh lives in Grass Valley.