Archbishop Emeritus Peter Akwasi Sarpong must know by now that the very notion of a celibate Roman-Catholic priesthood is decidedly a jaded phenomenon that is nowadays accepted or believed to be practicable or normal by only the most naïve of parishioners or congregants. Indeed, so ridiculed has this institutional practice been subjected that it has become a veritable joke among even the global Catholic prelate itself. Which may well explain why the retired Oxbridge-educated Bishop of Kumasi would seek to relatively downplay this most immoral of moral misdeeds (See “Sexual Acts Involving Catholic Priests Not Worst of Sins – Archbishop” Ultimatefmonline.com / Ghanaweb.com 7/1/16).
At its worst, sexcapades among the celibate priesthood has taken the patently criminal form of pedophilia, the wanton abuse of children, the most vulnerable and defenseless of the human species. And the irony here is that it has taken the sinister guise of priests as mentors and role-models of these largely innocent humans. It well appears that minors have been made the prime targets of pedophile priests because so blindly trusting are their adult parents that in a legion of instances, it has taken decades for the parents of the victims to come to a woefully belated realization of the lethal harm that has been done to their now-adult sons and daughters.
For an institution that is so morbidly homophobic, it is curious to note that most of the instances of clerical pedophilia, especially in the West, have been between Catholic priests and male underage children well below the age of consent or discretion. In the Third World, particularly in Africa, these illicit sexual encounters have largely taken place between philandering priests and young women. And to be certain, there have been quite a remarkable number of cases in which such encounters have ended in the deaths of these women who, faced with unwanted pregnancies by priests who were either not emotionally and psychologically mature enough and/or responsible enough to accept parental responsibilities, sought to abort these pregnancies.
And so it is rather scandalously facile for Archbishop Sarpong to presume that virtually each and every one of these illicit sexual encounters between Catholic priests and the women they have sworn not to sexually violate have largely been one of pleasure devoid of pain. And so the decidedly lame notion that people who oppress, murder or steal to support their ill-acquired habits or further their political ambitions are, somehow, more malicious in both intent and practice, is inescapably chimerical. And the last person that any fair-minded Ghanaian would have expected to harbor such inexcusably lame ideas is Dr. Akwasi Sarpong.
Maybe it is the trivial characterization of predatory sex among members of the celibate priesthood as a “sin of weakness,” rather than one of the Seven Deadly Sins, which it definitely is, that enables men of the cloth like Bishop Sarpong to indulge their basest instincts with reckless abandon, while also assuming an imperious sense of moral superiority over the laity. And by the way, quite a considerable percentage of priests, both Catholic and Protestant, have been known to steal church money to support their sexual habits. To be certain, there is ample documentary evidence of the deleterious impact of illicit conjugation on the coffers of the Church and its properties as well, dating back as far as the European Middle-Ages.
Then also, there is this lurid and pat notion that the Church has been very forthcoming in its apportionment of punishment for priestly sexual predators. Well, Bishop Sarpong and those who reason like him would do themselves and the rest of us great good by watching Spotlight, the 2015 movie that meticulously exposes the globally infamous pedophilia scandal that rocked the Boston, Massachusetts, Arch-Diocese under the virtual monarchical leadership of Cardinal Bernard Law. And I bet you thought a “God-fearing” prelate with the surname of “Law” was what the proverbial doctor ordered. Or didn’t you?
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