If you are both a parent and a church leader, as I am, you should be feeling quite sick over this: the news that hundreds of Roman Catholic priests sexually abused more than 1,000 children over the span of several decades.

We must remember, of course, not all priests are pedophiles. And not all pedophiles are priests.

Most priests are faithful, loving influences and would cut off their own hands before they would think of harming a child.

And, Lord knows, there are plenty of sexual predators out there who have no ties to the church. The two designations do not go hand-in-hand.

But for this particular set of crimes, the Church is not merely a backdrop: the Roman Catholic Church has played a vital role in perpetuating these crimes.

Not just in creating the space for the abuse, but in setting up a whole culture that both creates and enables predators.

There is evidence that church authorities often worked to cover up these crimes, to silence victims, and to keep the offenders in their places of service (or to send them quietly off to another community).

It is all so unthinkable.  Sickening in the extreme.

A church that exalts male supremacy is wrong.

The subconscious message that follows is that men are somehow God. Children are especially vulnerable to the implication that priests have a godlike authority.

Maybe at their ordination the priests thought they could obey the rule to abstain from sex, but then found themselves unable to do so.

Even if true, this would be no excuse.

It is wrong for the Roman Catholic church to insist upon celibacy.

And it is wrong for male priests to be given a status that is unobtainable for women.