Monday, 2 June 2014


As a result of some comments to this Blog in the last few days I want to address the highly sensitive topic of what might be the Christian / rational approach to paedophilia.

This topic always - and understandably - generates very hysterical responses as any right thinking person has to feel very upset and even very angry about anyone hurting an innocent and defenceless child.

The sexual, physical, mental or emotional abuse of a child is one of the most horrific things that can happen in this world. It is, and always should be, one of the most serious crimes anyone can committ and should attract absolute condemnation by society and the heaviest of prison sentences. There is no excuse, no explanation and no justification for child abuse.  

I have ministered to many victims of child abuse. In fact I am a victim myself. I was sexually abused by a neighbour when I was 6 years old and the experience had profound effects on me. Thankfully, through therapy and the passing of time I have long since passed over from being a victim to being a well adjusted survivor. Sadly some of those I know of or have ministered to, have never been able to make this life-saving journey :-( A small number have taken their own lives. Dominus Flavit!


In my ministry I feel that I have discovered that there are two BASIC TYPES of abusers:

1. Those who admit they have done serious wrong; who are genuinely sorry for what they did; and are willing to engage in life long management of their condition to make sure they never reoffend. 


2. Those who do not accept they did wrong; who continue to deny what they did; do not want to change and deep down want to reoffend when and if they get the opportunity. 

There is NOTHING that can be done for TYPE 2. They are extremely dangerous human beings and need 24/7 monitoring. They should never be allowed to be within a mile of a child; they should be made to live in areas where there are no families, schools etc. It is even difficult to make a case against their permanent detention.  


I believe that TYPE 1 should be given a second chance. While they are in prison they should have access to intensive therapy. When they come out of prison they should engage in life long management of their condition. They should be given the support they want to make sure they are never tempted to reoffend. They should organise every aspect of their lives to see to it that they are never alone in the presence of children. In fact they should avoid the company of children as much as possible. 

I think that someone in this position is similiar to an alcoholic. They must admit that will always have their addiction. They must realise that there is no "cure". They should attend very regular meetings facilitated by professionals in order to manage their issue. Perhaps they should have a wise and capable "sponsor" to whom they have easy access if they ever feel under pressure.    

I have experience of someone like this living in such a way as to never reoffend. This type of "recovery" is possible. It is difficult. But it is possible.

As Christians - or even as rational people - should we associate with people like this who are in recovery?

I believe we should. I believe that we should forgive. 

As far as God is concerned there is no UNFORGIVABLE sin. 

We are all sinners - in different ways. Thankfully we have not committed some of the serious sins that others have. 

But we are all capable of anything - giving the right / wrong circumstances. 

Maybe when we see or have to deal with abusers we should say what the older generations said: "But for the grace of God - there go I".

In some ways abusers are the "lepers" of our day. Jesus cured the lepers. Mind you he only cured those lepers who wanted to be cured and and asked for a cure. He never forced himself or his powers on anyone. 

I know from experience that abusers can be very manipulative.

We cannot let anyone manipulate us.

But if a modern leper is truly truthful; truly sorry; truly sincere about the future; truly determined to live a new and amended life - on what grounds - human or spiritual - can we withold our hand?

It is on issues like this that our Christianity; our humanity and our rationality is challenged. 

That is why it is so hard to be truly human - and even harder still to be a follower of the Nazarene.

+Pat Buckley


  1. This is one of the most challenging and enlightening of posts Pat and thank you for having the courage to post it. I note that there have been no comments thus far, perhaps an indication of the raw pain that surrounds this topic. As I said recently those who sexually offend against children and vulnerable adults are not monsters or aliens that have come to earth from another world, they are human beings. Human persons. Human persons who inflict terrible pain and suffering on their victims, but more often than not, and I repeat this, have had pain inflicted upon themselves and often as youngsters. This is not to excuse, but to help to try to understand. No child comes into this world evil, sick, weird, despicable...all words used of "paedo's" in the gutter press. Every human being comes into this world a blank canvas upon which life and experience, for good or for ill, paints the picture. I welcome you division of those who can be "redeemed" and though careful and close monitoring can be helped to face up to their crimes and not re-offend and indeed, where judged appropriate, make amends, and those who are so lost in their pyschopathy (and it is a pyschopathy to plan to abduct, rape and murder a child, even if that is not actualised) that they have to be removed from society and permanently. With priest / bishop offenders it is all the more complex and distressing as the psychopathy is hemmed in by religion and perverted theology. I recall that the founder of the Servants of the Paraclete, Fr Gerald Fitzgerald, way back in the 1950's petitioned the Vatican to allow him to set up a penitentiary for offender priests in the Navada desert. He viewed these men as so dangerous that he believed the only option was for them to be incarcerated for life, in comfort, yes, where they would be able to say mass, and have fraternity, but where they would stay until they died. I need not tell you that the project never saw the light of day. Thank you Pat for shining light on this most painful, yet sadly prevalent behaving. Forgive my need not to put my name to this. I know you understand.

    1. Friend,

      Thank you for your comment. I am hoping there will be other comments. This topic really needs airing and discussion.

      I have often said that Father Brendan Smyth was once a beautiful baby in a pram that everyone admired.

      What happened to him on his journey that made him become what he seemed to become?????

      As a young priest in Wales I used to visit the superior of the Servants of the Paraclete in their house for "offenders" at Stroud. I was very impressed with the work I saw there. It was not the Nevada desert and abusing priests did live in community and many of them went on to experience healing. I am a supporter of this approach.

      I do understand your need not to put your name on this public site. But you could email me privately? Maybe the Lord has something for you and I to do in this area?


  2. Agree with much of your diagnosis Pat. A big problem for child protection practitioners and law enforcement agencies lies in making judgements of where, in many continuums,(one-off "mild" abuse through to gravest abuse:, offenders full acknowledgement of personal culpability through to offender self delusional minimisation of culpability, and/or conscious manipulation) the offender lies. And maybe that last word is indeed an appropriate pun, for lies are commonplace in every aspect of offenders accounts/explanations.
    The AA anology is very appropriate. However while the alcoholic hurts him/herself most, the abuser injures the child most, and for that reason I believe courts and professionals must always aim for extreme caution in dealing with abusers.

  3. I work with folk some who may have been in prison and some who may have been abusers. I am not paid (pennies) to be judgemental or moralistic. I am not a counsillor or a therapist. I work with the person in the here and now. I address issues such as housing, benefits, debt & pathways to work. I leave specific issues of rehabilitation to those who are competent to lead and guide in such areas. Obviously if I note a concern I will report it. My underlying aproach to everything is christian ethos. I believe Jesus deals with people in the present moment. This is my key to keeping sane-if I ever was sane in the first place. Jesus went about dealing with and healing what was broken. Some rejected his word and some always will. It takes courage to keep running the race especially when I ask myself whats the point! Sean