In the wake of all the news about perversion and coverups among clergy and the hierarchy of the Church, one of the questions so many wonder about is, how can these men become so corrupt?
(By the way, I'm not talking about all sin, or even all sins against chastity. Some are entirely private, and some involve an Internet connection. These are grave sins, and can be a doorway to worse. But I'm talking about the sorts of things we're reading about in news reports: anonymous sex, ongoing relationships with others, male or female, preying on others who are less powerful, whether priests, seminarians, or minors.)
I've been thinking about this a lot lately, and I came up with five answers:
1) You know what you're doing is wrong, but you have given up on actually overcoming these sexual sins, and you reached a kind of compromise: "I'll only do this and this, but not that." Maybe this works for some, but I suspect it doesn't in many (if not most) other cases. I'm guessing that somewhere down the road, the cleric tries this again: OK, you can have this, but no more!
Why not leave the priesthood? You might rationalize that you're doing good in other ways; or that your sins don't really hurt anyone; or that people need you; or that people will be scandalized; or that you don't know what you'll do if you leave; or you have a lot invested in the priesthood -- you have a pension; or embarrassment about having to explain why you left.
2) You are deluded. You tell yourself you're going to change, and you are making some effort. You go to confession; maybe you periodically straighten up for awhile, only to lapse back. Any little victory is hailed as "progress." But the bigger picture is that you aren't really getting better, and you may be getting worse. For for whatever reason (pride, shame, fear), you don't get help. Here I might point out that since the 2002 "Dallas Charter," priests probably feel no safety in going to their bishop, because bishops are no longer "fathers" to their priests. They are, rather, employers, surrounded by lawyers and accountants.
3) You don't believe the Church's teachings that you are violating; either you don't believe the sins are all that bad, or you don't believe in mortal sin, or the necessity of confession; or all of the above. Perhaps you don't believe much of anything anymore. Perhaps you think you are owed something?
4) You have gotten used to living a compartmentalized life. One part of you is the priest; the other part is devoted to perversion. It's hard to imagine, but it happens.
5) You have actually surrendered to evil. This can happen implicitly: you surrender to the perversion and the mindset that goes with it. Justifying that perversion and considering it good. If you are interacting with others who share your perversion, you buy into their mindset and celebrate what you're doing. And the explicit way of surrendering to evil? I shudder to write this, but: you give into the devil.
This is my list; perhaps it's incomplete. Would you add anything?