An Uncomfortable Truth

All of us who have followed the scandal of Roman Catholic priests sexually molesting children have been horrified.

We have been horrified at the actual incidences of molestation …but we have also been horrified that the hierarchy of the Church apparently ignored what was going on and kept aberrant priests in the loop – meaning that far too often, these priests were merely transferred from one parish to another once their behavior was discovered or reported.

The late Joe Paterno, the beloved football coach at Penn State, was accused of much the same – ignoring something some say he knew was going on. Jerry Sandusky, who served as an assistant coach to Paterno, was eventually charged and convicted of multiple counts of sexual abuse of children; he was indicted on 52 counts of child molestation and was convicted of 45 counts of sexual abuse. After the scandal broke, the beloved Coach Paterno was fired by the Board of Trustees of the university. It was assumed or believed that he had known what was going on and simply ignored it, allowing Sandusky to not only keep his job but to keep on doing what he was accused of doing.

The commission of acts that are harmful to people over whom the alleged offenders have power is bad in and of itself, but the continual ignoring of those acts by superiors of those accused offenders, leaving them free to continue their harmful behavior, is just as disturbing. There can be no healing if the truth of what is going on is not acknowledged and the alleged offenders dealt with. At the least, those who abuse their offices ought to resign or be fired. What they should not be allowed to do is to continue in their positions.

Sexual offenses ought not be ignored, and neither should abuses of power as have been demonstrated by some police officers. Far too many unarmed, innocent black, brown and poor people have been beaten and/or killed by police officers – not just since Trayvon Martin, but, in this country, historically, perhaps heightening after the Civil War and during Reconstruction. Even when it has been obvious that police officers have been in the wrong, they have been either found to have used proper force or, if they have gone to trial, they have been acquitted of wrongdoing or given light sentences and …have been let back on the streets.

While sexual abuse of children is particularly heinous, so is the use of excessive and/or deadly force on innocent civilians. The “Blue Wall of Silence” has long protected police officers who are not in control of their emotions, any more than are sexual offenders in control of theirs. At the least, police officers whose actions have clearly been found to be questionable ought to have to go to some kind of treatment and be kept off the streets. Sometimes, the jobs we love to do are not the jobs we can or should do. That would be the case with priests (or others) who sexually abuse children, and that would be the case with police officers who believe that their badges give them an excuse to commit murders or horrific beatings, and know their behavior is sanctioned by law.

It is uncomfortable to think this way, but there is a truth within it which cannot be denied. It is clear that some officers, certainly not all, have some issues which they have not resolved. There is no reason for some of the excessive force situations which by now we have all seen via video. It is insulting that these officers do what they do and are not too worried, because they know they will be protected by their superiors and peers.

Sort of like the priests have been …supported and protected…by their superiors and their peers.

Lawsuits against people in power who abuse their power are a pithy way to deal with institutions which protect their members and continue to release them or reassign them so that they can be free to repeat their behavior. Survivors yes, get money …but far too often, offenders have been allowed to go free and the offenses never stop.

Something is wrong with that.

A candid observation …

God’s Imperfection?

Cleft palate. Baby feeding from a bottle.
Cleft palate. Baby feeding from a bottle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been watching the Jerry Sandusky trial with a lot of interest and a lot of questions.

I am angry at him for what he has allegedly done, but, as I have wondered before as I have listened to stories of men sexually molesting children, I have also been kind of confused about something.

Are people who sexually molest children sick, or are they evil?  If they are evil, were they born that way? Or does that kind of evil come about as the result of some childhood trauma?

I can’t look at pictures of Sandusky without feeling ill, any more than I can stomach the thought of Roman Catholic priests molesting children and the Church keeping quiet about it.  I was molested once when I was a child by a man, a delightful man, I thought, who lived down the street from us. The memory makes me ill…but the questions I have about why, how molestation is such a major problem make me even more ill.

If those who molest children are sick, is it a sickness that was present in them when they were born?  Is there a gene or something that went haywire during the time the fetus was forming?  On the other hand, if those who molest are evil, how did that, how does that evil make its way to individuals? And why is there so much of that kind of evil in the world?

It makes me want to ask, out loud, “O God, where art thou?”

I have often wondered about the creative process. There are so many children born sick – bad hearts, no hearts, cleft palates and lips, rare genetic diseases …It seems like if there was one place where one could expect perfection, it would be in the womb, during the formation of the fetus, where the hand of God seemingly would be most active.

And yet, so many sick children are born! I saw a program on CNN the other day where 10-year-old children were accused and convicted of killing other children. And I have wondered,  “Did God miss a day in the creative process? What happened, that made such imperfection a reality of a process which on the surface would seem to be one streamlined for perfection?

I say that God doesn’t make mistakes, but when I think of the evil and sickness that is prevalent, I shudder. I know, I am disregarding the words of God in Genesis where God said that because of the sin of Adam and Eve, there would be misery in the world…but, still, I find myself struggling. Can God NOT stop the prevalence of sickness and evil in the world, or does God simply choose not to stop it?

I know…there are no answers…I am still angry, sickened, really, at the thought of what Jerry Sandusky may have done to those boys. I am saddened when I see a child born into the world gravely ill. And I have questions that I really wish God would answer.

From what I have heard and read, Sandusky is guilty…but I cannot help wishing God, with all of Her power, would do something to keep evil (or illness, if it’s that) like that out of the world. Too many children have suffered, and I guess I like the notion of a God that sees suffering …and stops it.

A candid observation …