At this time, August 2018, I am articulating what is quickly becoming conventional wisdom amongst Catholics distressed by the allegations that Cdl. T. McCarrick et al. carried on homosexual activities while serving as a Catholic priests and bishops. This new received wisdom holds that when the clergy sex abuse scandal first broke in the early 2000s, we should have focused on stopping the sexual sins as opposed to focusing on sexual misconduct which was also illegal. We should have emphasized stopping sexual sins instead of emphasizing illegal sexual misconduct. Since sexual sins are a necessary condition for illegal sexual misconduct a focus on sin prevention would also have addressed preventing illegal sexual activity. Adherence to traditional sexual morality is necessary and sufficient for avoiding illegal sexual activity.
The focus on avoiding what is illegal has misled us into thinking that our problems were conforming to civil law rather than the moral law which expresses the unchanging will of God for human behavior. As a result, the bishops missed the opportunity of leading us in a much needed revival of traditional Catholic sexual morality.
There are a variety of explanations why the emphasis was on preventing and remedying illegal sexual conduct. They range from the neutral theory that the illegal sexual abuse of minors was the immediate and salient problem to be solved to the hostile and uncharitable theory that there was a goal of distracting from homosexual conduct amongst adult priests and even bishops. The explanations are issues for sociology. As a philosopher who has no intention of doing the empirical research necessary to test sociological explanations, I will not take a stand on explanations. I have to rely on others for sociology. But I will demand strong evidence for theories which attribute malice to priests and bishops. I fear that such evidence may be forthcoming.
However, I have no hesitation criticizing the bishops policy they should have required preaching of basic traditional sexual morality with a great emphasis on how to avoid occasions of sin.
My book on sexual morality makes a philosophical case for traditional sexual morality. My case does not assume any religious doctrines. I belong to a long Catholic tradition which holds that Catholic morality is simply morality which binds all people regardless of their religion.
My book Confronting Sexual Nihilism: Traditional Sexual Morality as an Antidote to Nihilism was released by Tate Publishing on March 11, 2014. See Book Web Page for information about the book. The publisher’s listed price is $26.99. Free copies can be obtained here by credit card by paying $3.75 for shipping and handling.
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