It seems like there is nothing the Catholic Church can do to rectify its public image. There is a constant stream through the media headlines of either some Dan Brownesque conspiracy, or some priest sodomy scandal. The public is thoroughly disillusioned now–not only with God, who’s been passé for some time now (excluding certain landlocked areas of the country)–but with God’s servants, who seem to have a disturbing affinity for young boys.
It gives one pause to think that perhaps those men who enter into priesthood, dedicating themselves for life to spiritual ideals, are not necessarily all godly seekers–that perhaps rather than entering priesthood to find God, they are entering priesthood to escape themselves. They want to escape their desire, their flesh, their past, and be retempered in some conception of purity. But the fact is that they are lonely creatures, and they are still humans, however well-versed in Biblical lore they may be.
To me, it becomes evident that priesthood itself, and its saintly demands, is simply an unrealistic role to assign to most people. These men are placed in positions of trust and power as empty vessels of God–so when their own desires and weaknesses become evident, as of course they inevitably will, given that they are mere mortals, it thus becomes magnified in its effect. The problem, then, is not simply that there are men who become priests that are perverts–it is that the very role of priesthood lends itself to perversity.
This is not to say that there are not priests who are indeed spiritual and godly men. It is rather to acknowledge that any and every priest is a human being, and that all human beings, placed into an idealized role and given power, are subject to corruption. We already know that all too well in regards to politicians. We already know that with policemen (or at least a certain segment of the populace knows it all too well). It applies just as well to priests, and just as well to the Church itself.
Mere outward trappings of justice, truth, or spirituality are not a guarantee of anything.