Sexual immaturity, poor formation behind abuse crisis

Sexual immaturity and poor formation are to blame for the sex abuse crisis the Church is facing, says a Canadian nun with a doctorate in clinical sexology.

The crisis does not mean “the end of faith” but rather “the end of a lack of formation and the end of deviance,” and a call to return to Jesus’ message of love, says Immaculate Conception Sister Marie-Paul Ross.

“If we really want to save the faith, the spiritual experience of the people, the depth of Christianity, and focus on evangelical values, we have no choice but to let go of the structures and build with the inspired heart.

“We must listen to the Word of God and the Holy Spirit.”

In her opinion, simply allowing priests to marry and ordaining women will not make sexual problems go away.

Ross says that when religious and priests come to her feeling stuck in their vocation under the pretext that celibacy is not livable, she always tells them the same thing.

“The problem isn’t your celibacy, it’s your immaturity.”

She says recently she’s been interested in the abuse of nuns. She’s found them to be naive.

“I told superiors: You don’t form women who stand up.

“You form little girls looking for their father, and who fall for every man who gives them a wink and tells them a pleasant word, who tells them that she’s beautiful.

“I say that there is a lack of formation, of knowledge. When you try to name these realities, they exclude you.”

Ross says she believes preventing abuse necessarily requires formation that leads candidates to religious life to “treat deep anxieties,” including traumas from their childhood.

“Sexuality is a power. Life and love pass through sexuality. We are beings of love and life,” she says.

The church is now “faced today with a humanitarian mess,” she says.

Above all, the crisis of sexual abuse occurs in a context where “society encourages pedophilia and sexual deviance,” mainly because of pornography, she says.

“Sexual deviance is created by repression and pornography. These are the two extremes. And often, the sexual formation of priests is made of both.

“There is a lot of repression and, in their solitude, with the internet, pornography.”

Ross says she has seen many such cases over her decades of practice as a nurse and a sexologist.

Porn creates an “inability to live human sexuality with genital, emotional, biological reactions, in love and commitment to love. It completely dissociates love and sexuality,” she says.

Ross points out younger children are exposed to pornography now. In her view, it’s up to adults to teach them how to deal with this reality which she says is “impossible” to stop, and to teach them how to develop a critical mind.

“Children have, it seems, a greater capacity than adults to capture the dignity of a human being and the dignity of a body.”


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