This week's Economist contains a brief article demanding the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, declare paedophilia not only a sin, but a crime. Many priests accused of such disgusting acts (as well as the bishops who covered them up) are still practicing and "remain free to abuse boys" long after their misconducts were enacted. The Catholic church maintains that it is being singled out; that many other groups such as orphanages and other care centers (mostly in despotic and authoritarian areas of the world) are also inflicted by this outrageously filthy practice. The reponse of the writer was simply that "if [the church] preach[es] absolute moral values, [it] will be held to absolute moral standards.
However, the quote that sparked my interest was the following. "The church now has exemplary child-protection rules - so strict, in fact, that they sometimes stifle healthily affectionate behaviour." Growing up in the church (albeit Episcopal), I have fond memories of my priests in the past. I served as an altar boy and in the choir for the majority of my childhood and was never mishandled. On the contrary, several of my priests (even now) were important and affectionate people to me. They continue to comfort me when I'm upset, advise me when confused, celebrate with me when I am happy, and are not afraid to show (appropriately) their love for a member of their flock...all the while leaving their frocks on. Part of my love for the church is the friends, mentors and confidants I have gained within its care. It is very necessary to personalize the clergy in order for trust and respect to gain full ground with parishoners.
Therefore, if children in the Catholic church are not allowed some sort of close friendship, it risks losing followers and therefore its own future. There is not a fine line between friendship and abuse. It is a BIG CLEAR LINE. Anyone who can't understand those parameters and abuses them deserves immediate defrockment and serious mental help. The children are the future of our churches. They need to be welcomed as genuine lamb of God and need to be treated as such. Children need guidance in the church so they may be able to grow into strong believers and future peacemakers. I pray that His Holiness will set records straight and begin a path towards openness and affection in his ministers of faith so that the powerful Catholic church might go from the bottom of the moral barrell to a leader in fair treatment of our precious children. He needs to criminalize paedophilia no holds barred.