Post failed rapture, we find ourselves knee deep in the Catholic church’s patriarchal illness. This time, we have a Salesian priest “Father Van B” on the board of an organization campaigning to end the Dutch ban on adult-child sex with the full knowledge of his boss, Delegate Herman Spronck. Father Van B was allowed to stay in the order even after he was fined for exposing himself in public because his boss said that adult-child relations do not necessarily have to be damaging.
Before we get all high and mighty, we might want to examine the patriarchal values that excuse this kind of absurdity. There is, after all, a self-serving cultural wall of silence erected around men of power in order to protect them from their sexually inappropriate behavior.
The AP News reports:
In a second interview, RTL quoted Spronck as saying he was aware of Van B.’s pedophilia and membership in Martijn, and even of two instances where the priest had been fined by police for exposing himself in public. But he said he didn’t think that was sufficient reason to ban him from the order.
“Removing someone from the order is something you would only do in the case of grave moral transgression, such as rape. There was never any question of that,” Spronck was quoted as saying.
Spronck added that adult-child sexual relations do not necessarily have to be damaging, including with children as young as 12.
The Dutch Catholic Church and the Salesian order are investigating the situation. I would like to suggest they start with a definition of rape by degree, as that may prove helpful unless they are planning on running as a Tea Party Republican in the US, in which case, they will be happy to know, there is no longer any such thing as “rape” for them. Please don’t put two and two together when you ask yourself why certain men are so interested in redefining rape to exclude almost anything but “force”.
Dutch Catholic Church spokesman Pieter Kohnen said Saturday that, even with sex abuse scandals rocking the church worldwide, this particular case was “unbelievable” and the church utterly rejects pedophilia. He said if Superior Claes did not act quickly to reform the Dutch Salesian order’s leadership, the matter would be referred to Rome.
I am left post-Schwarzenegger “shocker” and post Father Van B exposing himself and working to end the ban on adult-child sex wondering why it takes certain people so long to see the obvious. Are we really this obtuse or have we so readily sacrificed morality at the altar of patriarchal power?
How can anyone act as if they are shocked, or as if Father Van B’s boss didn’t essentially condone sex with children so long as it isn’t “rape”? How can anyone be surprised and disingenuous enough to suggest that if we knew then what we “know” now about Schwarzenegger, he would not have been elected. We did know. It’s just that somehow sexual assault perpetrated upon unwilling women was disregarded. We must figure as a culture that those women’s experiences of being humiliated and violated are not as important as the big man’s reputation. It’s only the love child that draws our ire, because now he’s messing with our “family values”.
We have a priest who works with young children (the Dutch arm of the Salesians supposedly “helps” poor children), who has been actively promoting to end the ban on sex with children and fined for exposing himself and yet, his superior thought there was nothing wrong with this. If or when further allegations come out, will they pretend to be shocked?
In neither of these cases were the allegations baseless “rumors”. In fact, in both of these situations, adults had to deliberately turn away from reality in order to allow the situation to fester in hiding. The Catholic Church is infamous for ducking under the covers at signs of trouble, hoping it will go away if ignored, and I can’t say our culture is much better than that when it comes to certain kinds of sex crimes.
Yes, believe it or not, the man who sexually assaulted numerous women also cheated on his wife and had a child out of wedlock, which he hid from the voters. Gosh, and he seemed like he had so much integrity, what with the sexual assault charges coming from so many different women none of whom wanted to talk to the press. He seemed like such a nice guy – what’s a little sexual assault? Who does it harm, anyway? If those girls would just hush up, we might elect ourselves a movie star!
And a priest who exposed himself and advocated to kill the ban on sex with children was allowed to continue working to “help” poor children and yet the Church is shocked when allegations of pedophilia rock its core because, what – they can’t see the connection? Are we really this morally bereft that we can’t see how we culturally exonerate criminal sexual attacks on the vulnerable?
Here’s some more shocking news: A serial sexual criminal is a criminal. Do not be surprised when they violate your trust or the law. And don’t be surprised if he goes after your daughter or son and no one cares. He’s such a nice guy, after all and we wouldn’t want to ruin his reputation over a few not necessarily damaging events.
I suppose that much like the sexual assault victims of Mr. Schwarzenegger, this is all a matter of perspective. What they mean to say is that neither is damaging to the perpetrator and isn’t it lovely that the adults and the public just turn a blind eye and then pretend shock when the inevitable happens.
Gosh, no one could have imagined that Father Van B might not have been trustworthy around children. It’s not like he gave them any clues. Maybe the Republican Party can run him for President and Fox can give him a contract as the Family Values host and we can all sit around pretending that it’s really his word against all of those childrens’ words and to be “fair” to him, we’ll cut it down the middle, after all, he is a “priest”.