The sex abuse scandals by the Roman Catholic clergy in several countries, including the United States, Ireland, Germany and Australia, are causing grievous damage to the Roman Catholic Church.

For non-Catholics like myself, the Roman Catholic Church is now a disgraced institution.

Among Catholics, especially in the United States and in Ireland, the Church has lost its trust and its credibility. For how can Catholic priests be credible in preaching good morals to others when hundreds of their fellow priests have committed such crimes as most laymen are loath to commit?

The sexual abuse of boys by priests has been going on for decades - and so have the cover-ups by the Church, as The Times reported on May 22, 2009: "Sexual abuse was endemic in boys' homes in Ireland and Church leaders turned a blind eye to it." Irish Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said: "There is no escaping the cruel irony that the Church, partly motivated by a desire to avoid scandal, in fact created a scandal on an astonishing scale. In many cases, the welfare of children counted for nothing, and abusers were left free to abuse - to visit evil on the innocent." (November 27)

Cover-ups of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests have in fact been going on for centuries without being exposed as they are nowadays. A write-up on this topic was published in The Sunday Times of August 13, 2006 as a review of a book entitled Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes - The Catholic Church's 2,000 Trails Of Sexual Abuse.

In a review of another book entitled Fallen Order by Karen Liebreich, the reviewer writes: "Father Josè de Calasanz, who founded the first school of the Piarist Order in 1597, was made the patron saint of schools and education by the Pope in 1948. He might just as well be the patron saint of the cover-up for, back in the 17th century, he was covering up child abuse in his own schools." (The Sunday Times UK, Culture magazine, April 18, 2004)

Another scandal that is slowly emerging is the scandal of homosexual priests who engage in sexual activity with adult males. On December 31, 2009, The Times reported: "The Catholic former archbishop of Argentina's Santa Fe province has been sentenced to eight years in prison for aggravated sexual abuse against a seminarian."

On March 5, 2010, The Times reported about a lay member of an elite choir in St Peter's Basilica who colluded with one of Pope Benedict's lay ceremonial ushers in allegedly procuring men for seminarians, according to wiretap transcripts published by La Repubblica.

In the late 1990s, Mgr Hans Hermann Groer, Cardinal Archbishop of Vienna, was dropped like a hot potato by the Vatican after he was accused of having sex with young men.

I lived in North America for 24 years and during my time there I met several Catholic priests, both in the United States and in Canada, who led double lives - as priests and as sexually active homosexuals.

The Church is aware that it has homosexual priests in its ranks, as Bishop Wilton Gregory, president of the US Conference of Catholic bishops, observed: "It is an ongoing struggle to make sure that the Catholic priesthood is not dominated by homosexual men" (The Malta Independent on Sunday, April 28, 2002).

But I very much doubt whether Pope Benedict and his bishops know about the sex lives of their homosexual priests and what these priests are actually up to when they doff their clerical collars to assume their alter egos as practising homosexuals. Isn't it ironic that the homophobic Roman Catholic Church turns out to have had hundreds of paedophile priests in its own ranks as well as other priests who were sexually active with adult male homosexuals?

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