Comment 72743

By highwater (registered) | Posted January 05, 2012 at 11:39:41 in reply to Comment 72713

As much as I wish more Catholic priests followed Michelle Martin's advice to conceive their role in the context of parenthood, such an approach would require them to see themselves as fundamentally responsible for their conduct. Clearly, a number of priests did not so regard themselves.

In the absence of that deep personal responsibility, accountability would have acted as a secondary safeguard for at least those children who were abused after the first cases came to light. But tragically, farcically, the organization of the Church chose instead to close ranks around its abusive members and redeploy them instead of removing them.

MSC, but I believe the cultural shift Michelle proposes addresses both personal responsibility and accountability. But first I think we need to recognize the reason why the Church has been fundamentally incapable of valuing the vocation of parenthood sufficiently: even in our secular society, parenthood is still virtually synonymous with motherhood, and in the traditional family model idealized by the church, even moreso.

The nurturing and empathy that we associate with parenthood were until very recently the exclusive purview of women, and are consequently devalued by male hierarchies.

It isn't so much that certain members of the clergy didn't see themselves as responsible for their own conduct, but rather that they didn't view their responsibilities in the way that women/parents do; that is putting the welfare of your vulnerable dependants ahead of your own.

Likewise, it wasn't so much a lack of structural accountability on the part of the church that caused it to close ranks, but rather the church's distorted view (like that of any male hierarchy) of who it was accountable to, ie. the hierarchy itself. The sacrifice of innocents is just the cost of doing business in these types of cultures.

Asking the church therefore, to place a higher value on the parental vocation has the potential to change both personal responsibility and institutional accountability, but alas, as long as the nurturing, self-sacrificing aspects of parenthood, as opposed to the teaching/guiding aspects, are viewed as 'womanly', I'm afraid it will be an uphill battle.

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