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Sunday, October 20, 2013

High-Profile Cases in Congress and the Church (Part Seven)

Some stay in the "poor me" victim stance, whereas others flip into aggressive offenses. From the victim's stance they do not ask what their role was in the abuse, or what they need to do in order to take care of themselves, they attack from a victim's stance. From either the victim's or aggressive stance, all abuse takes place, not only priestly abuse. These attacks take the victim from one-down to one-up. Addiction, which is always a one-up posture, is often concomitant with the victim stance.

Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and former Benedictine monk and priest, has researched the institution and practice of priestly celibacy for more than thirty years. He contends that the culture within the church does affect the emotional maturity and sexual expression of the individual. In his book, Sex, Priests and Power, he writes:

Priests may be ordinary men, as stated in the 1972 Kennedy-Heckler study of priesthood, but they do not exist in an ordinary social-moral culture. Theirs is a culture apart. It is an exclusively male world bounded by mandatory celibacy, where power, control, employment and even financial reward are dependent on the exclusion of women and the appearance of a sex-free existence. No one can say that this culture has nothing to do with the problem of child sexual abuse. Experience demonstrates clearly that cultural factors inherent in the celibate/sexual system are crucial and pivotal in some instances of sexual abuse, not only of minors but also of women and men.
Sipe also states that 70 percent of priests who sexually abuse others were themselves abused as children, some by priests.As we have already explored, a traumatized person will react or adapt to his abuse, often re-creating it from the power position. This re-creation is an attempt to have power, control, or mastery over the original trauma. If a sexually abused individual enters the priesthood -- a system that Sipe reports is an abnormal social-moral culture -- his sexual health will continue to be arrested, meaning he will be more likely to remain in the adapted self. Or his behavior may worsen or progress if untreated in this environment.

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