To: FR Phil Bloom
What I want to alert you to is what you said in Section "4" ... specifically .. "however, IF SOMEONE WHO PRESUMABLY WOULD HAVE BEEN SEXUALLY ATTRACTED TO ADULTS ...."
This statement of yours "presuming" this to be the case, identifies that you have not grasped the reality of what child sexual abuse is. It reveals what your belief system is, what YOU think. You obviously need to do some scientific research into this area as well as gain some realistic understanding of child development.
What should be patently obvious to you, but apparently is not, is that children are USED by perpetrators of sexual abuse. Children are tricked, manipulated, blackmailed, suffer extortion, overpowered, silenced, imprisoned by the authority and power of the abuser. Their experience is discounted, minimised to zero, hidden and denied by the adult abuser of them. The abuser attributes his or her feelings as being that of the childs, saying the child enjoys it, desires it, is sexual etc., so that the abuser does not experience any dissonance when he/she plans the assaults. The abuser introduces a variety of elements to ENSURE he/she has minimal chance of being caught out, using the cover of deceit and darkness, authority and control and power over, to quash any likelihood that the child will disclose, or that anyone will listen if the child did try to disclose.
At no time is there an equality between child and the abuser, which your "presumption" about a child being "attracted sexually to an adult" infers.
In working with offenders, after some time they each reach a point of owning their behaviour and responsibility for ..... planning the assaults, manipulating the child and the child's environment and adult care-givers, lying to and deceiving others so they can continue having access to the child to obtain gratification for their sexual deviancy, and deliberately building and maintaining an "external" image in the community as being respectable, and above reproach. The offenders also get to the point of owning the ways in which they have "excused" their behaviour and placed the blame/responsibility of others.
I say "after some time" because it does take time for each perpetrator in treatment, if the treatment is confronting the deviant behaviour not excusing it. If the treatment program is one that is honest about what CSA truly is, an addictive, intentional behaviour choice. Any treatment program that does not place the responsibility for the crime back fair and squarely on the offender, fails the offender and does not give him/her the opportunity to truly face his behaviour choices.
It does take time for the offender to become honest with themself and "own up to" himself/herself and others, how they intentionally went about ensnaring the child. How they over-rode and got around any obstacles. How they instilled fear in the child very deliberately and drove a wedge between child and caregiver/s. How they deliberately built up the child's reputation of being "a liar" or "problem child" that they were "trying to help" or support etc and using this "cover" to gain access to and abuse the child further.
Also using the child's perception that the offender was "protecting him/her" from others who were angry at him/her. Using this perception to consolidate in the child, that the offender was the one who had all the power, and that they could not turn to anyone else because everyone else had begun to hate/dislike them, so there was no-one to turn to.
It takes time for the offender to "own" internally how they deliberately set about "separating" the child from parental support, so that the child no longer had a trusted adult to disclose what the offender was doing to him/her. Of course, some pedophiles don't have to work as hard if they select out a child who is vulnerable and who does not have a caring support adult network around them in the first place.
I have worked for over two years with incest offenders and pedophiles, their victims and the children's non-offending parent/s (NOP), in a program where there is no financial windfall to victim or therapists. The Therapists get paid a salary that is the same as it would be working in a different area of welfare. It is a Government run mandated treatment program for offenders (2 years, with a possible extention of a further year), and voluntary participation of victims and NOP. It is a treatment program that deals with the offender as an alternative to jail, if he/she is found suitable for the program. To be in the program the offender has to have pleaded guilty to the charges, and he/she is not allowed to have any contact with children under the age of 16, must not live within 5 klms of the child victim/s home, must not use the same services (doctor, dentist etc) or shopping environment that the child victim/s do, must not work where he/she has access to children, must not live in an area near schools, nor go to eating places where families go (eg MacDonalds etc). He/she must not live in accomodation with shared backyards, or in caravan parks. To breach the conditions mean going back before the courts, and depending on the seriousness of the breach, being sent to jail (excluded from the program).
Fr Bloom, I would suggest if you DO want to get at the TRUTH, then you need to realign your thoughts from even imagining that a child is in the position of responsibility (equal or partial) for being assaulted. It is the adult offender who knows what he/she is doing, and who is manipulating everything in the child's world so that they the offender, can do what they want uninhibited by anything. They are driven by their need for sexual gratification, and they don't see the child as a person, but objectify the victim. The "love" they initially proclaim is a tactic to manipulate the child and people who would attempt to confront the offender's behaviour.
Like with the offenders I have treated, it may take for you, a complete "conversion" of thought, attitude, belief system, to really grasp the intentional evil choice that perpetrators of child sexual abuse make against a vulnerable child. Then you may get the light to be more realistic about adult survivors of CSA. About how much treatment they will need to be able to live a functional, healthy life. Your focus on money as a reward system for survivors clouds the issue. The reality is there is lifelong suffering for survivors, with many triggers that plunge them back into a myriad of psychological battlefields. (If I can put it metaphorically).
It is also not helpful for you to ask whether being a victim of CSA is the worst thing that could happen in a persons life. There are no brownie points for working out which trauma is worse than another. The point is, that we as a society can reduce the number of victims, the number of children and adults who have to struggle with the fallout of CSA, if we take the matter seriously. If in all truth, we face that fact that the adult perpetrator of CSA is alone responsible for his/her behaviour.
I think that maybe the child victims that the treatment program has worked with may hopefully experience a more healthy, wholesome future life as a consequence of intensive therapy in childhood after disclosure. Hopefully, they may not require as much therapy in the future because their experience of CSA has been validated and issues of the time dealt with, and the offender has finally taken real responsibility for the mess and destruction. For these kids, their experience is no longer secret, and so they do not bear the weight of carrying such a burden and trying to pretend that everything is normal. Also these kids have had a positive experience of treatment, and the pathology of dissociation (and other aspects of PTSD) have been addressed. They have been re-linked strongly to their parental supports, and the parents have worked at getting to truly know their kids, and "liking them" again. The communication and access that was broken, is restored, and understanding and appreciation between child and parent/s is growing. A strong bond is being re-established. To the glory of God.
I hope what I have said has given you food for thought.
ps ... I didn't get into the %'s of priests who were or were not pedophiles. To me it is not a relevant discussion in that I know the % are small and probably less than the % of pedophiles in the normal population.
Also from my professional work, I know that pedophiles do not sexually assault children because of not having adult sexual relationships. Rather that sexual attraction to children is a specific pathology, and that many offenders have sexual relations with adults of same of different sex as well as targetting vulnerable children. Among other things, it provides a good cover, while they use the physical sensation to fantasize about the target child.
So my interest is certainly not to "bag priests or religious". It is to address the lies and myths of CSA ... the presumptions and ignorances of those who speak out to defend offenders by putting responsibility on the child victim, or by slurring or blaming the child, or parents.
I think it is time we faced our own demons, our own warped beliefs ... or our own "wish list" and inability to face the truth that some adults do, deliberately and intentionally, choose to use and abuse the small, the weak, the voiceless under the guise of "helping". And these people who choose to abuse may be someone we respected.
Sincerely, and in the Lord's merciful love,
Thank you for writing and for sharing your expertise and experience. However, I am afraid this will be like one of those old Gilda Radner skits. Remember how she would give an impassioned commentary, but then be told she had gotten this original premise wrong? E.g.:
If you re-read that section in my review of Pedophiles and Priests, you will see that I never said I presumed the victims were sexually attracted to the adult predator. The sentence, from which you quote a part, states:
"However if someone who presumably would have been sexually attracted to adults can become oriented to children on account of abuse, what happens to the theory that sexual orientation cannot be significantly effected by environment?"
The full paragraph refers to the common observation that adult pedophiles were often themselves sexually abused as children. The question was whether childhood experiences could also contribute to the genesis of same sex orientations. Do you see what I'm asking?
Feel free to write again. And prayers for your important work.
Fr. Phil Bloom
A question about Bible's teaching on pedophilia.
Cardinal George Addresses Threat of Pornography
PBS Program on Darwin's Dangerous Idea
Boston Globe's Misleading Article on Catholic Church
Letter from Former Catholic
Is Celibacy the Problem?
Homily on Boston Scandal
Homily on Local Scandal
Not Hitler's Pope Articles on the subject of Pope Pius XII during WWII
Nazi Policy and the Catholic Church by KAROL JOZEF GAJEWSKI
Germaine Greer on Birth Control
Human Cloning: A Catholic Perspective (How the Unthinkable Became Inevitable)