Will Militant Atheists One Day Celebrate Clerical Sexual Abusers?

Often, in comboxes on different sites around the web, I have witnessed the fury of self-avowed atheists whose favorite piece-de-resistance against Catholic presentations of the Gospel and morality consists of the ritual invocation of the clerical sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Church as a rhetorical mace with which to slam Catholics. Their aim, if not to shame Catholics into silence, is to undermine the appeal of Catholic moral arguments in the public arena on issues such as abortion, same-sex “marriage,” gender ideology, and religious freedom, by making Catholic arguments sound ridiculous and hypocritical.

The Sexual Abuse of Children is Soul-Murder
These are the facts we must contend with: the depraved men who perpetrate this abuse against children are nothing but soul-murderers. This attack against a child’s most intimate personhood often kills the victim’s inner self. Many victims end up committing suicide; others become incapable of functioning as psychologically integrated persons. Too many renounce their faith in God and leave the Church.

I have no doubt that the damage caused by the sexual abuse scandal also extends far beyond the victims. Family, friends, onlookers, and many faithful Catholics have come to question their loyalty to an institution they perceive as intent upon protecting the criminals to avoid scandal and financial liability. That these circumstances were often allowed to fester by bishops and leaders of religious congregations who were ill-equipped to handle this evil does not escape me.

Recognition of these facts by conscientious and still loyal Catholics is not enough in the eyes of militant atheist critics. The critics still relish holding the scandal before of us as the only true mirror reflecting the ugly reality of the postmodern Church.

Atheists Fall Short On Their Criticism
However, these atheist commentators often suffer from a deficit in self-awareness. They miss the fact their objections to the sexual abuse of minors has no basis in any objective moral code. In fact, their objection is subjective and merely aesthetic: atheists find abuse of children ugly without further ado. Their objection is also sentimental, deriving from an undefined sense that protecting childhood innocence is some sort of value, like not telling children until they are older that Santa Claus is a well-meaning but false story. Modesty to them is a nebulous concept, but worth preserving even if not understood well.

The atheists’ objections to pederasty do not derive from a sober reflection about the intrinsic dignity of human beings. Nor do the objections derive from a similar reflection of man’s transcendental destiny, or even from his right to develop his personality and sexuality apace. Since, according to atheists, there is no such thing as an objective morality to be found outside of whim, fantasy, or ideology, atheist objections against pederasty hang from the thinnest of intellectual threads.

Now Comes “The Science of Gender”
Increasingly, we are being confronted with the assumed “scientific fact” that gender is flexible and malleable and that binary sex is nothing but a social construct. Exclusive cisgenderism is looked at as oppression, and gender activists often depict the defenders of heteronormativity as ignorant and fanatical bigots. We also have gender “scientists” and ideologues to thank for gender neologisms and jargon, a Newspeak intended to entice legislators and opinion-makers to accept the new reality. Though scientists are often loath to tally the number of all the genders out there, some gender ideologues have fewer qualms about it. Estimates vary widely. For example, this writer at APath.org has tallied 63 genders and organized them in an impressive, detailed-filled table.

Businesses have also gotten into the act. In 2014, Facebook managers, always ahead of the curve on progressive issues, came up with 50 genders for their users based in the United States, and 71 for those based in the United Kingdom. If Facebook users are dissatisfied with the pre-populated lists, users can add their own.

Gender activists don’t know for sure how many genders there are really, only that there are more than two, and that each one is endowed with its own claims to identity rights and recognition. Another thing they have in common is their uniform ridicule of Catholic morality regarding sex as a mutual gift and of gender as a gift from God. Atheists grow very uncomfortable when faced with an argument dismissing their view of human sex as intrinsically evil and destructive of human nature itself. For all their self-proclaimed tolerance for ideas, atheists are quick to denounce any claims favorable to the existence of an objective morality outside of subjective taste.

Pedophilia as a “Gender” and “Sexual Orientation”
I have seen, since 2012, a surge of claims, under the gender ideology rubric, that pedophilia is one such “gender” or “orientation” and that the sufferers cannot help themselves because this is who they are. Conferences favorable to pedophilia and ephebophilia have been held; supportive papers have been written and legal briefs filed; and some psychologists have begun to engage the media pushing for the normalization and decriminalization of sexual activity between adults and children. Backed by gender studies and other “scientific” findings, and walking upon the well-trodden path that led to the normalization of homosexual activity, a community of interest is fighting to normalize sex between children and adults.

Once, adult homosexuality was socially unacceptable. Today it is protected by law and an object of public celebration—and woe unto those who dare disagree with this new gospel of acceptance and inclusivity! Can the same thing happen to pederasty?

Today, sex between children and adults is seen as reprehensible and criminal. Tomorrow, once gender ideologues succeed in removing all the qualms, revulsion, and opprobrium linked to pedophilia, sex between adults and children will become a normal activity; it will be accepted, protected, and even celebrated. Former Catholic clergymen who perished in prison for their crimes will be hailed as misunderstood heroes and trailblazers victimized by a sexually repressed Church, like their fellow, “other-gendered,” and “differently oriented” folks before them.

Hence my modest proposal: atheists should stop vilifying pedophile priests, and start hailing them as heroes instead because “science” and niceness demand it. If atheists would embrace my proposal, they would be once again ahead of the curve, fighting for the next, great civil rights issue of our times.

Teófilo de Jesús

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Teófilo de Jesus is the name Pedro Vega adopted when he became a lay Oblate of St. Benedict attached to St. Vincent’s Archabbey in Latrobe, Pennsylvania. Teófilo holds a B.A. in theology from St. Mary’s University of San Antonio, TX, and will soon start studies to earn an M.A. in pastoral theology from St. Joseph’s College of Maine. He is also a retired Naval Officer and an Afghanistan combat veteran. The former blogger of the Vivificat blog and current Knight of Columbus, Teófilo or “Theo” is the father of two and grandfather of four. He and his wife of 32 years live in the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, where they tend assiduously to their three beloved basset hounds. His opinions are his own and in no way representative of the organizations he belongs to.

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