I couldn't help but be alarmed by the Editor's Note – that the writer of this homage to the Pope is actually a psychologist. How sad this is to me. Jack Wilson writes a lot about what a great job this man is doing as Pope, with tremendous admiration. As a Roman Catholic, I expect this kind of sincerity, humility and holiness from the Pope so I am not as easily impressed. I would have preferred a more balanced piece of news – one that more directly looks at the challenge the Pope has with the American Roman Catholic Church – for that is the real story for me and my Roman Catholic patients. That is where the Pope could impress, and did not. Mr. Wilson writes:
"Vicar of Christ, divinely designated head of the One True Church, infallible when he speaks on matters of faith and morals? On those matters most non-Roman Christians think he and his church are, well, mistaken."
Regarding the above, I would point out, that while there may be plenty of "non-Roman Christians" questioning infallibility on matters of faith and morals, there are plenty of Roman Christians as well – I for one. There is a Doctrine of Free Conscience recognized in the Roman Catholic Church. After trying for years to reconcile with the Pope's (who was then Cardinal Ratzinger) views on condoms, priestly celibacy (the REAL problem underneath the sex abuse scandal), the role of women and homosexuality, I have used my conscience to take a different path in my personal faith while remaining Roman Catholic.
As a psychologist I hope that the great people of the Virgin Islands know that the American Psychological Association and the American Psychiatric Association both have taken stands on these issues – all against the beliefs of this Pope who, I would argue, is doing tremendous psychological damage to a great many people. I know, because these people come to me for treatment. From personal experience I will tell you that I have treated many practicing Roman Catholics who cannot reconcile their homosexuality, need of gender equality and need of condoms with the teachings of the Church and it sometimes KILLS them! This is rare, however. Usually it just leads to a life of tremendous pain – a pain based on the gender with which you happened to be born, the financial poverty that cannot feed a large amount of children, or the sexual orientation God in His Wisdom saw fit to assign. Several come into my office every year, psychologically bleeding.
Perhaps the biggest pain caused by the current Pope's writings from the previous Pope's reign is the feeling by so many of being so outcast from society in their homosexuality that they ran to the "sanctuary" of priestly celibacy…. and while homosexuality does not, in and of itself, cause pedophilia any more than heterosexuality, trying to lead an entire life without sex does sometimes lead to a perverse leaking out of one's sexual needs…and in many cases, against children. The psychological pain on both the perpetrator and the victim is incalculable. This kind of problem along with having to have more children than mouths you can feed, or lead a celibate life because you are attracted to the same sex, or be denied priesthood because you are a woman is cruel. And to cause cruelty in an age when science should help to guide wisdom, even spiritual wisdom, is criminal. Hopefully, we will not have to wait the near 400 years Galileo waited. I fear our Church will not be so patient this time around. There was not the controversy there could have been during this Pope's visit because so many of the people he disaffected as Cardinal in the 70's and 80's are long gone from the Church. They simply don't care anymore and have found Christians with truly open arms.
For more on this view, I highly recommend reading "Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought" by Kosnik et Al., 1977. This brilliant work by Catholic theologians was commissioned by Pope Paul VI and is available on Amazon.com.
Sidney W. Binks III, Ph.D.
St. Croix and Washington, D.C.
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