San Diego While the Catholic Church is waiting for the media's next horrific revelation of sexual abuse, many non-Catholics are also intrigued by the recent news. Locally, non-Catholics aren't especially surprised by recent revelations, as much of the news seems to reinforce what they already believed about the Catholic Church.
Jo Ann Sclaurent, 26, is visiting San Diego from Montreal. A self-described Jehovah's Witness, Sclaurent says she is indifferent about the Catholic Church. "I have friends who are Catholic. I'm not embarrassed to talk about these stories with them. It was very common before, but to be truly honest, I never talk about this. Sometimes we learn of priests who are like that, and it's, like, 'Oh, what a shame,' you know? They told me that the priests and nuns who taught them in school were very severe. The worst I have heard is about this sexual abuse, but I don't know anyone who had that happen to them. My father left the Catholic religion, so we always had respect for priests, but we wouldn't kiss their rings and all that. Now when I see a priest, I don't think anything. It should be illegal for adult men to have sex with teenage boys, and it should be reported to the police. If a priest owns child pornography, that's disgusting. They should be reported and have consequences for destroying lives. A Catholic priest is more likely to engage in illicit sex than a Protestant minister because they are not allowed to get married. I know that sex outside of marriage is a mortal sin for Catholics, but they always do it -- they don't care. I think that God instituted marriage and gave us laws of what to do with our body. I think that by honoring our own bodies and waiting until we are married to have sex, we honor Him, and that's very important. But priests don't know nothing about sex. How can they counsel people?"
Ruby, 27, works at Gelato Vero. A North Park resident, Ruby considers herself anti-Catholic, although many of her friends are Catholic. "I try to avoid that subject with them, because it's such a sensitive subject. I had a crazy uncle who told everyone that he was molested as an altar boy, and my whole family refused to even discuss it. That was years ago when I was a kid. I've listened to the statistics, and I know they have a higher rate of molestation in the Church, so it's obviously a problem, and the cover-ups are a problem. This has always been happening, and my opinion has always been the same: It's creepy. It's kind of like a running joke, like Michael Jackson with little boys. Everybody talks about it, and nobody really knows if it's true. They have control over the boys' minds, and these are people who are supposed to be close to God, and they're powerful authority figures, and it's not okay for them to take advantage of young men. It's obviously not consensus when someone else holds so much power over the other person. The bishops should absolutely report these guys to the police. And if they have child pornography, that's illegal too. Just because you're a priest doesn't make it less illegal. I think Catholic priests are more likely to engage in illicit sex than Protestant ministers because Protestant ministers can get married. Whenever you make something taboo, it becomes more desirable, and you create a fetish. I think that by making sex unattainable, it's become fetishized. I know premarital sex is a mortal sin for Catholics -- another one of the many reasons I'm not Catholic! Priests are obviously not qualified to counsel married couples about sex."
Matthew Byrd, 25, lives in Pacific Beach. Byrd describes himself as "pro-Catholic" and claims to have friends who are Catholic too. "I'm not at all uncomfortable talking with them about the recent scandals. I want to get their opinion on it. I've heard that priests would actually pull down their pants and spank their bare ass in class when they taught -- the nuns would do this also -- sometimes with their underwear on. These are friends who went to Catholic school in San Diego, actually. I've always looked at priests as kind, gentle souls who want to help, maybe someone you can trust or bring your problems to, maybe someone who is perfect, morally. Now, it's a little questionable, but ultimately, most Catholic priests are probably nice people who can be trusted. Not just Catholic people, but everyone in general is going to have some strange people in their line of work. It's a very high-attention job, I think. You're commanding the attention of the Church, and you're supposed to lead a certain life, and I don't think you should resort to violating people sexually and making advances at them. It should absolutely be illegal for adult men to have sex with teenage boys. The bishops should report them, even if it's just owning child pornography. Heck, yes. I haven't seen the statistics, but I don't think they are more likely to get into sexual trouble than a Protestant minister. There's not a religious reason why people do that but more personal reasons. Maybe it's their own upbringing." A new thought seizes Byrd. "Maybe it is religious. Perhaps they were brought up Catholic, and other Catholic priests have molested them so they become molesters as well. I was not aware that premarital sex was a mortal sin for Catholics. I think that's good guidelines. It's a little harsh, but if you believe in hell, that's good. Maybe you'll do more positive things with your life rather than becoming sexually active at a young age. Why not save it for marriage? Priests counseling about sex may be out of their league, but I think it's a good idea. They know that one side of it. But you might also want to talk to a psychologist or a counselor or someone else who knows more about that."