Sex scandals in the church

Exposing sexual scandals in the church is good for religion.

Sexual scandals of the Catholic Church unfolding everyday in the media must be extremely distressing to the faithfuls but ultimately I think it is good for religion.  For one thing, it makes clear that religions are human institutions.  I am not saying this because I belong to the United Church and not the Roman Catholic Church.  The churches are all in the same boat together.  All the churches suffer from the loss of credibility.  I was in an administrative position of the United Church during the 1990’s in Quebec, and I can tell you that we had our own share of sexual scandals.  Predators were mostly clergymen (sic) abusing their positions for personal gratification.  On my watch in my jurisdiction alone the United Church lost two court cases arising from the complaints of sexual harassments.  However,  I believe ultimately it is good that the problem is now being exposed.  It is cleansing.  It reveals the truth about human nature: power corrupts all of us.

It is good that those scandals force the churches to examine the power of the clergy and the role of the church hierarchy.  In the final analysis, Christians are supposed to believe that power belongs to God only as we pray, “For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power…”  We also believe that no human has a monopoly on truth.   No human, no clergy nor hierarchy, should have unimpeachable power and the unquestionable knowledge of the ultimate truth; only God does.  Those scandals force us to pull the clergy class and the church hierarchy down from the false pedestal.  We are all humans, good and bad, beautiful and ugly: the clergy class no exception.

Religious people now and then claim an exclusive access to the divine power and truth, and abuse such presumption to exploit others for personal benefit.  No human has such power.  The same rule, by the way, should apply to all job categories where one is given licence to exercise power over others because of their special knowledge; be it a financial adviser, a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, a politician, or a car-salesman.   Some people may have special gifts for sure, by nature or by training. Even then they must be subjected to checks and balances, because all humans are fallible.

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