Considering this, many have contended that once a priest's pedophilic drives have been revealed that "All minors are potential victims in [their] presence." (Wheeler, 2005). But this is analogous to saying that all women are in danger of having sexual relations with a heterosexual priest. Clearly, such an act is not necessarily a crime, as pedophilia is, but both opinions suggest that celibacy is impossible -- doubtlessly it is not.
So, the question is: can a pedophile be an honest and honorable priest? The answer most certainly is, yes. But it is also essential that if there is any evidence of sexual misconduct, whether by a priest or any other member of society, it must be reported to authorities; the "family" of the Church cannot avoid this obligation. Accordingly, the argument that, "Zero tolerance may be appropriate in cases where a serious crime is known to have been committed and as long as there is a palpable risk of its being repeated," is altogether too weak (Dulles, 2004). Palpable risk should not enter into consideration: if a crime has been committed it must be investigated by the proper authorities. These authorities are necessarily from outside the Church as they are upholding the laws that pertain to everyone in society, irrespective of their religious faith.
Most centrally, the issue regarding sexual molestation is exceedingly delicate because it boarders upon invasion of privacy. For requiring religious authorities to report existing sex offenders, and having them to be registered and publicly identified as such makes it virtually impossible for such individuals to live a life free of sigma and shame. Yet, the risk is the utter ruin and permanent damage done to the innocent; preventing this should be the prevailing concern of lawmakers, and certainly, clerics as well.
Sexual crimes, by their nature, discredit the supposed cycle of punishment and rehabilitation of crimes. There has never been any conclusive evidence that a pedophile can be "cured" of pedophilia, just as there has never been any evidence that a homosexual can be "cured" of homosexuality. The vow of celibacy does not override human sexual urges, but instead, diverts them. One priest believes, "His religion taught him that physical and emotional love were gifts from God," and that the proper expression of them was through devotion to Him (France, 113).
In short, incursions into the privacy of convicted sexual offenders is justified, providing that they have been investigated and prosecuted appropriately. Only notification of their past can be tolerated as a suitable measure once their debt to society has been paid. Since the Church falls under the jurisdiction of society as a whole, despite their spiritual position, they must be obligated to report crimes of all sorts, as well as the past sexual crimes of their members. Ideally, the reporting of past crimes should not be left up to the Church, but instead to public officials whose duty it is to uphold Megan's Law. Yet, reporting current crimes should be the responsibility of any party available as a witness -- including other clerics. Additionally, mere sexual preferences -- pedophilia or homosexuality -- do not justify incursions into privacy or public announcements; only past or current acts of rape can validate such exposure. Pedophilia is not a crime unless it involves the exploitation of innocents; although it does much of the time, it cannot be used as the sole criteria for tarnishing a priest's reputation. Considering the fact that there is no cure for sexual deviance, all sex offenders of any occupation known to the justice system, should be known to the general public as well.
The Boston Globe. Betrayal: the Crisis in the Catholic Church. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2002.
Breslin, Jimmy. The Church that Forgot Christ. New York: Free Press, 2004.
Curtis, Kim. "Oakland Priority Housing Sex Offender Priests Draw Neighborhood Ire." The Associated Press, April 11, 2005.
Dulles, Avery. "Rights of Accused Priests." American Society, Jun 21-Jun 28, 2004. Vol. 190, Iss. 20. pg. 19.
France, David. Our Fathers: the Secret Life of the Catholic Church. New York: Broadway Books, 2004.
Greeley, Andrew M. Priests: a Calling in Crisis. Chicago: University of Chicago, 2004.
Jost, Kenneth. "Will the Catholic Priest Scandal Spur Changes?" CQ Researcher, May 3, 2002.