I read with dismay, a headline in The New Times about two weeks ago. It screamed “Catholic Priest arrested over molestation” (The New Times, January 25th issue N01396). This story, written by a New Times correspondent in the Southern Province Paul Ntambara, was especially shocking because, unlike the usual victims of sexual assault in Rwanda i.e. girls, the victims in this case there two teenage boys.
Karama Parish Priest, Father Deogratius Misago, 40, admitted before police that he had lured the two teenagers into homosexual acts, which begun in 2004, as quid pro quo for the fact that he’d help them pay their school dues and other necessities.
The police learnt of the incidents when, according to District Police Commander Superintendent Bertin Mutezintare, one of the victims tested HIV positive and reported the priest’s deeds to the police.
This sickening story of a priest molesting young boys, to any observer of global events, isn’t new. The Vatican has been buffeted by scandals right, left and center involving priests and their young wards, paying millions of dollars in compensation to the victims of harassment; from Chicago, to Los Angles to Mexico City, the Church has been forking out money and transferring priests because of their immoral acts on both young boys.
I will not flog the dead horse that the anti/pro homosexual debate has become but, rather I’ll have a go at the institution that I believe is at the root of this problem; the vow of celibacy that the young men entering the priesthood must make. I believe that this vow isn’t only foolhardy but also against every instinct known to man.
Man- here I’m meaning both sexes- is hardwired by nature to seek a partner of the opposite sex for companionship and, later to produce and raise the next generation of Homo sapiens. The vow of celibacy doesn’t allow this natural instinct to manifest.
I believe that when natural instincts are suppressed nothing good ever comes from it.
Call me an advocate of Sigmund Freud’s school of thought if you so choose; however, even the most skeptic person will have to admit that, as compared to other kinds of faith worldwide, the Catholic Church has been buffeted by allegations of a sexual nature like no other. Most of these faiths let their leaders marry. I haven’t heard of a scandal of this nature coming out of the Anglican, Orthodox or Lutheran Church.
It’s interesting that all these other churches don’t force their priests in to celibacy. It’s an individual choice that each person in the position of priesthood makes.
It’s interesting that the vow of celibacy that the Catholic Church makes a prerequisite for priesthood isn’t one that has always existed. The early church wasn’t led by celibate men but, rather, men with wives and children.
It was only in the later years, as the Catholic Church became something akin to the state church in Europe, that the vow of celibacy was introduced.
The vow of celibacy isn’t based on anything other than dogma that can be changed. The Catholic Church once made holding of the Mass in Latin compulsory with the priests reciting Mass with their back to the audience.
This was changed by papal decree. The vow of celibacy should suffer the same fate.
I am of the view that this suppressed sexuality that is an effect of celibacy, is why priests have become, naturally, troublesome.
Some become stoic; others get girlfriends- and even bear children with these women- while the others engage in funny practices of a dubious nature. These dubious practices involve homosexuality and child molestation as in Father Misago’s case.
The church might say that Misago’s case is unusual and that many of the priests in Rwanda and around the world are good Shepard’s of their flocks; I’m forced to take this argument with a pinch of salt.
There is a saying that one bad apple spoils a whole barrel of good ones; well, there are so many bad apples in the Catholic barrel that I wonder whether if there are any truly good apples left untainted.