Cat Fight: Garry Wills, Phil Jenkins, et al have at in the letters section of the NY Review of Books.
Discussions of the scandal generate more heat than light - of course it is hard not to be angry, but at some point it is necessary to begin sorting out the issues.
Wills (and others) have criticized Jenkins because Jenkins has pointed out that most of the priestly misdeeds have involved adolescent males (ephebophilia) rather than children (pedophilia). The distinction may or may not be useful in trying to figure out what to do, but it does not seem to be a maliciously motivated distinction. Joined to this however is Jenkins's writing on the variations on the age of consent and his libertarian attitude, a mistrust of state power, which always seems to be directed against social outcasts rather than big offenders. The public also has a tendency to have periodic binges of anxiety about real, chronic problems, and then drops them from emotional exhaustion. These binges often damage innocent people without really addressing or solving the problem. But Jenkins sometimes adopts a fashionable academic "nothing can shock me" attitude, and some things should shock and anger us.
History, 9/11 & 9/14
Now that 9/11/01, the Terrorist Attack, just yesterday has been superseded in our immediate experience and more recent memories by 9/11/02 the Anniversary, September 11, 2001 has now passed into history. It is no longer something that has happened to us in the past year, having passed into memories called "in years past." This is not to minimize it. Great sorrows do not disappear but take their proper place and find their right proportion in our lives and memories as time passes. This would explain why the first anniversary of the death of a loved one is both so painful and also important to observe as we thereby in a sense resign our loss to becoming a fixed part of our personal history, with all of its sorrows and joys.
There were so many devastating losses in New York and Washington. There were material losses as well. To mention just one, St. Nicholas Orthodox Church near the twin towers was completely destroyed when the second tower fell.
We think we build for permanence. But does anything remain on earth? On September 11, 2001 I was far away on a tiny island off the Scottish coast. The islands have many ruins of monasteries, churches; Scotland itself, once a center of a vibrant Christian civilization, is now a very secular country in need of the gospel. In the countryside are old parish churches now abandoned or turned into houses; in cities some churches have been turned into nightclubs. We cannot take Christianity for granted in our own country.
Nations and cultures„all come and go. The World Trade Center is no more. And the Taliban is no more. The Soviet Union finally fled as a bad dream in the dawn after a night as long as an arctic winter. Empires seemingly invincible fall apart and leave behind scraps of things that people once lived and died for.
In two days, Christians of liturgical churches will celebrate the Triumph of the Holy Cross on September 14. We celebrate an event that from all human vantage points looked liked a defeat, a tragedy. But when the Light shone forth from the Tomb, the Cross not only became a past memory and entered into history„it became the fixed center of all history and its meaning.
Ours is the faith that overcomes the world. The Cross of Christ redeems and sanctifies the ravages of time; it transfigures history. In Christ "sufficient unto [each] day is the evil thereof," including September 11. Even that infamous day shall be transfigured, as shall all be who are in Christ Jesus, who cling to his Triumphant Cross, that changeless and fixed anchor in our storm-tossed world.
Andrew Sullivan noticed the lack of public reaction to Tadpole, a film abut a middle-aged woman seducing a 15 year old boy. This lack of reaction led him to suspect that the fuel for the outrage against the Catholic scandals was not a dislike of pedophilia, but of homosexuality.
Marty McCauley in the Baltimore Sun notes:
Tadpole, now in its seventh week at area movie theaters, is a charming, unpretentious comedy about love, longing and statutory rape.
The director and the characters take the whole thing lightly:
Director Gary Winick and the actors have said in published interviews that they were aware of this pitfall, but surmounted it by making Oscar wiser than his years - "a 40-year-old inside a 15-year-old body" - and by confronting the issue head-on.
Only, no one in a 15-year-old body has the life experience that real 40-year-olds rely on to navigate sexual skirmishes. It's simply not a fair contest; the odds (and the power) are too skewed in favor of the older partner. It's like putting a bantamweight in the ring with a heavyweight.
Nor do the characters in the movie confront the statutory rape issue head-on, as the moviemakers claim. Diane feels so little guilt about her tryst that she boasts of it to her women friends, and encourages one to give Oscar her phone number.
McCauley notices the difference in the reaction to the film and the reaction to the scandals:
And hasn't an identical practice - turning a blind eye to the sexual exploitation of teen-agers - precisely what has gotten the Roman Catholic Church into so much hot water? If we chuckle at the film, how can we condemn the priests?
Two previous films about similar situation, Lolita and Lovely and Amazing both showed the evil of the relationship and the bad consequences that the relationship had. Tadpole is PG-13.
McCauley forgets the 1958 movie Gigi, about a young girl in training to be a courtesan. One reviewer notes:
I must admit that hearing 70-year-old Maurice Chevalier croon "Thank Heaven For Little Girls" seems creepy in today's climate; it's not actually a paean to pedophilia - after all, Chevalier makes it clear he digs little girls because they get big eventually - but it appears uncomfortably close to that territory.
Pedophilia and pederasty are constant dangers. Adults, who by definition have power, are frequently temped to exploit their power to enjoy the bodies of youths, male or female. Statutory rape laws are designed to protect teenagers and children from those who would use and discard them. Pedophilia is no joke, whether it is heterosexual or homosexual.