Q: Can you comment on the continuous sexual scandals in the Catholic Church, and why it is that western people and the Catholic Church never understood what celibacy is about?
First, such scandals are not just in the Catholic Church, but in Protestant churches as well. But they, too, get hushed up. Because of the Catholic Church’s size and prominence in the Western world, a scandal regarding it gets more public interest than other religious groups. (Especially if anti-Catholicism is a major part of their personal religion or anti-religion.) I know many instances of sexual scandal among so-called mainstream Protestant churches, but they never made the newspapers or television.
In my late teens I went one summer to Ohio to do volunteer church work. There I found that the entire town (not small) was agog with the news that the minister of a local church had “run away” with a twelve-year-old girl from his congregation.
In Oklahoma there was a minister of a local church who almost daily at the end of the school day drove around one of the high schools and picked up young boys whom he paid for sex. When it was discovered and did get in the papers, his denomination claimed he had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. Later he went to another state where he was made a bishop!
Sexual scandals in India, too
In India, too, there are scandals among Hindus and Christians. And for many centuries what should have been scandals were considered ordinary. For example, it was the custom for men to offer the company of their wives to the priests of a temple he visited on pilgrimage. In many temples the devi-dasis (handmaids of the goddess) who lived there and danced before the deity were freely violated by the priests and often by their friends and temple patrons. A friend of a friend of mine rescued many of these girls from temples in the Calcutta area at the risk of her life. As a result the British government gave her an award for bravery.
The Remedy to sexual scandals
Being religious is no safeguard if a person does not cultivate inner, Atmic consciousness. Otherwise they are “in the world” of lust and greed just like everyone else. The solution was given by Krishna to Arjuna: “Therefore be a yogi” (Bhagavad Gita 6:46).
- How to Be a Yogi
- Twelve Pointers For Maintaining Brahmacharya
- The Role of Celibacy in Spiritual Life — an interview with Swami Chidananda