Guilt and shame. Staples of a Catholic education in the 50’s and early 60’s. The very foundation of Catholic moral instruction in this era, especially in the area of human sexuality.
So how is it that the priests themselves did not seem to feel the guilt and shame they preached?
Young boys were tormented with threats of hell if they masturbated, but chasing altar boys was the topic of dinner time jokes in seminaries and rectories. For teenage boys touching yourself was a shameful and guilt ridden exercise in self damnation; but for priests, touching young boys was an exercise in power and control.
What about when they were found out? The boy victims were beaten by their fathers or by another “Father.” “How could you say such lies? You are going to hell for such sins.” And the priests were told by their bishops “We will pray for you, my son, that you can overcome this temptation from the devil. Remember he strikes hardest at the holiest among us.”
Oh, so if priests are tempted that is a sign of holiness; If young boys “give in” and “allow” themselves to be touched, that is a sign that they are agents of the devil. The shame and guilt is theirs. The priests deserve our support, our pity, our prayers; the victims deserve our condemnation.
So, the problem lies in the lack of shame and guilt on the part of the priests, and their bishops. And their complete lack of compassion for young children molested, raped, and sodomized by members of the clergy.
We won’t get anywhere in the search for justice unless the Church begins to teach its priests about shame and guilt.