02/12/2013 12:00 pm ET Updated Apr 14, 2013

The Catholic Church Needs to 'Man Up'

It is time to for the church to really take responsibility for the pain it has caused, the innocence it has stolen and the lives it has ruined.

The almost-unheard-of step of resignation by a reigning pontiff has touched off a feeding frenzy of speculation. What's the real reason behind this act? Certainly the Catholic Church is under investigation, as is the pope himself, concerning the horrible, disreputable crime of pedophilia which has been pretty much swept under the expensive Vatican rugs, so to speak. Pope Benedict is right in the midst of the turmoil because it is to his attention cases of pedophile priests have been sent. His actions of doing nothing concerning the horrible misdeeds may have something to do with his resignation. Age? Illness? Popes die in office, they don't resign. Pope Paul II was ill and never was it bruited about that he should resign. No, the resignation of a pope is made for a reason.The last pope to resign, Gregory XII, did so in 1415, 10 years into his tenure, in the midst of a leadership crisis in the church known as the Great Western Schism. He was, technically speaking, the fall guy.

Somewhere along the way, I was taught by my father that if you did something wrong, you should "man up" (or, in my case, "woman-up") and take responsibility for your actions. It isn't always easy to do so but it should be done. It is unfortunate that leaders in the Catholic Church never met my Dad; they may have learned to own up to their horrible mistakes.

You've got to hand it to the people behind the scenes trying to redeem the very tarnished image of the Roman Catholic Church. They've come up with a "logical reason" for the priestly sexual abuse of untold millions of children. Even Dick Wolf and his brilliant team of writers at Law and Order couldn't have come up with this scenario. A study commissioned and funded by the U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference, explains exactly why priests molested and sexually abused children.

Called the "Woodstock Defense" it states that the crime of sex abuse committed against innocent children by your friendly neighborhood priests only occurred because (are you ready for this one?) "vulnerable priests were influenced by the increased deviance of society during the psychedelic 1960s and 1970s."

"The increase in sexually abusive behavior in general was consistent with the rise in other types of deviant behavior such as drug use and crime, as well as changes in social behavior, such as an increase in premarital sexual behavior and divorce."

The study called the church crisis a "historical problem." Rest assured, it says, the bulk of clerical sexual abuse cases occurred 40 to 50 years ago. The number of reported incidents began to decrease in the 1980s. I'm sure that's a comforting thought for anyone who has had the innocence of their childhood stripped away by a lecherous priest.

As Benjamin Disraeli was fond of saying when confronted with so-called societal studies, "There are Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics."

The study on the reasons for sexual abuse went on to say that the commonly used term "pedophile priests" is "a misnomer." Really? What term should we use for a grown man who sexually abuses little children? Pedophile seems fine with me and with millions of others worldwide.

Let's be perfectly clear here about what these "Fathers" did just so there is no misunderstanding in anyone's mind. They raped little boys and little girls, they touched little boys and little girls in the most intimate of places. They used the fear and power of their position to force these children to perform sexual acts on the priests themselves; they molested them. They robbed them of a normal childhood because of what they did. If that isn't a pedophile, then I don't know what is. "Pedophile priest" is a totally apt description.

Chairman of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Committee on Protection of Children and Young People (can you see the irony in this title?), Bishop Blase Cupich, said in a recent statement that "child sexual abuse is a scourge that affects more than the Catholic Church."

Uh-huh, so that makes it alright for priests to abuse children? Everyone else is doing it, so it's OK? Please. Clean your own house first and stop pointing the finger at others.

Thank God, the survivors of abuse refuse to remain silent and are speaking out. David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, was critical of the report:

Predictably and conveniently, the bishops have funded a report that tells them precisely what they want to hear: It was all unforeseeable, long ago, wasn't that bad, and wasn't their fault. It gives bishops even more reasons to avoid what they desperately want to avoid: questioning celibacy, married priests, secular laws, serious reforms, or their own virtually limitless power as kings in a medieval monarchy.

Ah yes, limitless power; the power to move an abusive priest from one parish to another, keeping him safe from prosecution. That certainly is medieval, as medieval as the infamous Inquisition.

Granted, certainly not all clergy are pedophiles and many abhor the tragedy of this heinous crime against children. (Some have left the church in disgust and anger over what they know has been swept under the rug for centuries. Yes you read that correctly: centuries; this is an ongoing abomination.)

But for the church proper to dismiss it as a sign of the times is ludicrous and cruel. It is saying to the survivors, "Sorry, it happened, it was a sign of the times, everyone was sexually active. Get over it."

Problems such as this remain and can be well-hidden unless certain legal actions are taken. Religion and religious groups stop having privileges when they break the law. The Roman Catholic Church, besides being a mainstream religion, is a well-run business and like any other business with a CEO who has not played fair with the public, a resignation is in order.

What should a country where the abuse has taken place do? Prosecute the church leaders in that country, all the way to the top, to the fullest extent of the law the same as it does to any other group or group of persons who commit the horrible crime of child sexual abuse. They should be made to pay and not only financially.

What should the church leaders in the highest echelons do? Take full and unremitting responsibility for what has happened, stop trying to place the blame elsewhere, and stop protecting pedophile priests. Report them and have them incarcerated. That's a start.

And on the subject of what the church leaders should do, there's one more thing: They should not bring God into this mess they have created to serve as their protector against prosecution. Be realistic, please, and stop feeling you are untouchable simply because you are "men of God."

I'm pretty sure God is fairly disgusted with this entire horror.

© 2013 copyright Kristen Houghton

"And Then I'll Be Happy! Stop Sabotaging Your Happiness and Put Your Own Life First" ranked in the top 100 books by Tower

Kristen Houghton is the author of the hilarious book, No Woman Diets Alone - There's Always a Man Behind Her Eating a Doughnut in the top 10 hot new releases at Amazon available now on Kindle, Nook, and all e-book venues.

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