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Pope Speaks, Calling Catholic Priests’ Sex Crimes “Unspeakable”

Cross-posted at the Francis L. Holland Blog.

It's ironic that when the Pope apologizes for Catholic priests' sexual assaults on children and adults, as he did yesterday in London, the Pope calls these sex crimes “the unspeakable.” One of the most damaging aspects of these sex crimes by priests is that the Church has considered and pronounced them to be “unspeakable.”

The New York Times reports,

LONDON — On a day when he faced the largest protests yet of his state visit to Britain, Pope Benedict XVIRoman Catholic Church. used an address at a Mass in Westminster Cathedral on Saturday to reiterate his “deep sorrow” for the “unspeakable crimes” of child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

The Pope still doesn't understand this issue and why people are so angry at him and the Catholic Church. The problem over the last decades is that both the victims and the Church have considered these crimes to be so hideous that they ought not be spoken or complained about to anyone, ever.

These certainly are hideous crimes, but the more hideous a crime is, the more society needs to speak about “the unspeakable” and directly confront and communicate openly about “the unspeakable.”

Ironically, in his speech about the Church's sex crimes, the Pope implicitly asserted that the victims should never have come forward and spoken about “the unspeakable.” Well, the Pope simply needs to acknowledge that what was “unspeakable” before, and where secrecy had the effect of protecting serial rapists, that information is now eminently speakable. The victims are speaking about it; newspapers and television are speaking about it; the courts are speaking about it; and now, finally, the Pope himself is speaking about it.

The Pope needs no longer apologize for “the unspeakable,” but should instead acknowledge and apologize for that which remains unpsoken.  The failure to speak openly is part of the Church's sexual pathology. Instead, the Pope can begin talking about the notorious, widely and publicly debated and litigated sex crimes by members of the Catholic priesthood. The “unspeakable” has become speakable and notorious.

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