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Sex Abuse by Priests

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On this page: | Reason for this Page | Charges+Countercharges | The Search for Information | Avoiding Scandal? | Secrecy or Confidentiality? | The Greater Sin? | A Higher Standard? | Roman Catholic Seminaries: Seedbeds of Perversion | How Many Homosexual Priests? | Conspiracy of Silence | Is Celibacy an Issue? | The Final Questions |

The Reason for this Page

This page arose from a discussion thread on our Message Board. After posting a report by the Kansas City Star on AIDS and homosexuality in the Catholic priesthood, there arose a flurry of impassioned charges and countercharges. The posts from non-Catholics ran along the lines of "I always knew it!" "More cover-up, just what you'd expect." The posts from Catholics ran along the line of"The facts are skewed," "it's not really such a big problem," "Protestants have the same problems!" "Required celibacy is not the reason for priestly homosexuality or pedophilia." and so forth.

Let me say up front that I believe there are a lot of sincere, truly celibate priests who are just trying to do their jobs. The sexual deviations of their fellow priests is a source of embarrassment and pain for them. Theological differences aside, I empathize with the many priests upon whom the stigma rubs off, just because they are priests. There are two sides to this issue, and both need to be considered. Consider and test the arguments on both sides before making up your mind if the Roman Catholic Church is embroiled in a crisis of major proportions, and what its root cause(s) may be. Yes, I will offer my own opinions, but you are not obliged to agree with them.

A Definition

The problem under discussion touches on Roman Catholic priests who violate their vow of celibacy (with the implied associated chastity) by homosexual and heterosexual experience, by pedophilia, and on those priests who have the dreaded AIDS disease. Rather than repeat all elements at each mention of the 'umbrella' issue, I will use the expression, The Celibacy Problem. Only when discussing a specific item under this 'umbrella' term, will I use specific terms such as pedophile, eubophile, homosexual, heterosexual, or AIDS.

Charges and Countercharges

The most common defense I read and hear from Roman Catholics is that priestly homosexuality and pedophilia is practically a non-issue. I am told that, yes, there are a few such priests here and there, but no more than one can find among Protestant pastors or Jewish Rabbis. They tell me further, that the only reasons it even appears to be a problem is because the media loves to attack the Catholic Church, or because priests, as a group, are the largest single group of ministers in the world, and so they get more press. They also inform me that there really isn't any substantive evidence, just a lot of anecdotal reports. It's sort of a conspiracy theory that says all those nasty anti-Catholics are out to get the Catholic Church.

The most common charges against the Roman Catholic Church on this matter are that the Church knows the problem yet ignores it, and covers for such priests by shifting them around from parish to parish, where they repeat their offenses. Non-Catholic sources (and a few Catholic ones as well) seem to agree that the number of priestly offenders is so high it amounts to a crisis within the Church and within the community at large. Again, on the other side, it's sort of a conspiracy theory, one that says that the Catholic Church will do anything to avoid scandal, including lies, payola, falsifying records, and playing assignment bingo to protect her priests-and her false image of holiness.

This issue is laden with emotion. People on both sides tend to level charges with little provocation, with little by way of supporting evidence. The very though of a trusted priest 'queering' one's son is enough to make most parents go ballistic. Add this to our all-too-human tendency to buy into conspiracy theories (and they exist among both Catholics and Protestants alike in this matter), and we have the makings of war between folks who would otherwise tolerate each other, or even be friends.

Thus I have set myself the task of researching this issue, checking available books, reports, legal cases against priests and bishops, writings of priest themselves (active, inactive, and those who have left the priesthood), etc., on the one side, and checking Catholic books, Catholic sites, Catholic reports, etc., on the other side. During my investigation I discovered a noteworthy number of books, reports and Internet sites devoted to exposing the depth of the problem as being of crisis proportions. I have not been as successful at finding similar but contradictory information from Catholic books, reports or Internet sites.

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The Search for Information

Given the large number of media reports on The Celibacy Problem, and the vociferous outpouring of denials from Roman Catholic folks, I expected to find a body of reliable research data on the subject. Thus far, I have found that assumption to be but half-true. There is, indeed, a large body of information purporting to expose and explain The Celibacy Problem. Catholic folks tend to view this information askance denying its authenticity, its veracity, its statistical relevance, and to dismiss the whole thing by labeling it "Catholic Bashing." I have offered to provide specific references on research material to Roman Catholic visitors to my Message Board. To a person, all have declined the offer. It does appear that Roman Catholic folks just don't want to consider the evidence.

On the other side, where I expected to find the Roman Catholic Church's defense, I found very little information to draw upon. Thus did I enlist the help of some Catholic surfers to locate books, reports, Internet sites - anything that offers reliable data from the Roman Catholic perspective. Given the visibility of the charges, I thought it only reasonable to expect a vigorous defense, an impressive offering of official Roman Catholic data purporting to disprove the public charges against both priests and Church. I was wrong; there appears to be no such data available.
QUESTION: Is there reliable, Roman Catholic-generated data available that supports the Catholic view that The Celibacy Problem is not a serious, pervasive one, much less a crisis in the Catholic Church? None that I could find.
QUESTION: Is there reliable, Roman Catholic-generated data available that supports the view that the Celibacy Problem is a serious, pervasive one, and is a crisis in the Catholic Church? Yes, there is
QUESTION: Upon what does the Roman Catholic Church base its denial of the seriousness of The Celibacy Issue? Your answer?

Catholic Sources Show Celibacy Problem IS a Crisis

The Changing Face of the Priesthood, Fr. Donald B. Cozzens; Copyright 2000 by The Order of St. Benedict, Inc., Collegeville, Mn. ISBN 0-8146-2504-5

The Catholic Myth, Fr. Andrew M. Greely; Copyright 1990 by Andrew Greely Enterprises. ISBN 0-684-19184-9

Homosexuality and the Priesthood: Questions We Can't Keep in the Closet, Commonweal, June 19, 1987

What are we Advertising?, The Tablet, April 24, 1999

This Endangered Species, The Tablet, April 24, 1999

Sex, Priests and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis, Fr. A.W. Richard Sipe; Copyright 1995. ISBN 0-87630-769-1

Avoiding Scandal?

A typical Roman Catholic answer to the question of why the Roman Catholic Church fails to bring forth evidence in her own defense is that the Church must avoid scandal, or even its appearance, at any cost. The faith of many Roman Catholics is feeble, they say, and any appearance of scandal could drive them into sinful behavior or beliefs, and that, of course, would also be scandalous.

To this, I respond, quoting author Jason Berry, "A bishop's moral authority suffers incalculably when the courts or the news media expose a cover-up of sexual abusers." [Lead Us Not Into Temptation, Page 277] Such exposures appear to be an ever-increasing phenomenon. Is this not scandal too? What does the average person (Catholic or not) think each time a new court case reveals yet another priest-offender, yet another apparent cover-up effort?

Secrecy vs Confidentiality

Catholic bishops often cite the privilege of confidentiality when asked to reveal their records of abuse by priests, and what the Catholic Church has done about the problem. Most certainly, confidentiality is an essential element when it comes to protecting, even fostering the resolution of problems for or with an individual priest. But confidentiality need not be breeched for bishops to simply assemble data, sans names, in the interest of truth. This they seem not to have done. Would not open recognition of the facts, and analysis of them contribute significantly to a solution of The Celibacy Problem?

When Bishops ignore the problem, stonewall investigations, and practice, not confidentiality but secrecy in order to avoid even the appearance of scandal, they make that scandal even greater in the perception of those viewing it. Secrecy, as compared with confidentiality, is a ploy that serves the preservation of the illusion of holiness in a most unholy manner (not to mention a possibly illegal manner as well).

This phenomenon is reported by author A.W. Richard Sipe:

"I have witnessed cases in which abuse was verified and admitted, but the priest or prelate was so popular or powerful that even the civil authority refused to take action. All of this reinforces a secret system where truth is known, but fear of scandal protects and fosters abuse and scapegoats the victims." [Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis, Page 34]

consider further the observations of writer Phillip Jenkins:

"Although 'pedophile priests' are disturbed and dangerous individuals, they could not wreak the harm they do were it not for the institutional context that ignores or connives at their activities."
"The Catholic Church in particular has been more concerned with protecting the reputation of the institution and the clerical profession than in safeguarding real or potential child victims. . . . The images presented of the Catholic Church are of extreme and unhealthy secrecy and official cynicism. [Pedophiles and Priests, pages 3, 4]

Which is the Greater Sin of Scandal?

QUESTION: Which is the greater sin:
  1. The scandal of the very existence of numerous priests who are homosexual, or pedophiles, or heterosexually active?
  2. The scandal of learning about priests who are homosexual, or pedophiles, or who seduce women in the parish?
  3. The scandal of discovering that the Church tries to hide the problem by moving such priests to other locations where they repeat their odious offenses-while leaving the victims hanging out to dry?
Your answer?

If, the faith of so many people is so fragile, is that faith not more likely to suffer upon learning, not only about bad priests, but also about bad bishops who go to great lengths to hide the truth? Is the fact that such exposure occurs, not because the Church is really cleaning house, but because, despite costly legal efforts to suppress the truth, that truth is forced into the limelight by litigation really lost on those people of 'fragile faith?' It would appear that the Church hierarchy considers the laity unaware, stupid, or too docile to care. Even worse, many of the victims of priestly abuse are treated, not as victims, but as enemies of the Church. These facts are reflected by researcher/author Stephen J. Rosetti:

"Parishioners are becoming very angry. Some are angry at the pastor; they believe he is guilty and they feel betrayed. Others are angry at the alleged victim for bringing up the charges; the victim and his family are being ostracized from the parish. Many are angry at the media for the sensational way the story has been covered. Everyone is angry at the bishop; they believe he has deserted them in their hour of need. And nobody in the parish knows what is happening. This scenario is being repeated in scores of parishes throughout the United States. As allegations of priest-child sexual abuse begin to surface in other countries, as they already have, similar disastrous events are taking place around the globe." [Page 46: A Tragic Grace, Stephen J. Rossetti]

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Is There a Crisis?

Is The Celibacy Problem really a crisis situation? Or is it only a tempest in a teapot? Are cases being accurately reported, or are people playing with statistics in a mean, vicious attack on Rome? Is the number of homosexual and pedophile priests far above average for peer groups- or is it no different than you would find among, say, Protestant ministers? Does the Church really route priests who are exposed to other places, to remote assignments in places even more remote, rather that face the problem and deal with it? Have Catholic seminaries become seedbeds of gay priests, or is that charge just a lot of unfounded rancor? Is there a link between the vow of celibacy required of priests and the incidence of their aberrant behavior? These and other questions need to be asked and answered.

To answer the primary question, it will help to know what a crisis is. Here's one dictionary's definition:
crisis (krº"s¹s) n., pl. crises (-s¶z). 1.a. A crucial or decisive point or situation; a turning point. b. An unstable condition, as in political, social, or economic affairs, involving an impending abrupt or decisive change. 2. A sudden change in the course of a disease or fever, toward either improvement or deterioration. 3. An emotionally stressful event or a traumatic change in a person's life. 4. A point in a story or drama when a conflict reaches its highest tension and must be resolved. --attributive. Often used to modify another noun: crisis intervention; crisis planning. [Middle English, from Latin, from Greek, from krinein, to separate. See krei- below.]

SYNONYMS: crisis, crossroad, exigency, head, juncture, pass. The central meaning shared by these nouns is "a critical point or state of affairs": a military crisis; government policy at the crossroad; had failed to predict the health-care exigency; a problem that is coming to a head; negotiations that had reached a crucial juncture; things rapidly coming to a desperate pass.

[American Heritage Dictionary]

To summarize, The Celibacy Problem would be considered a crisis if it is considered as being a crucial (very significant or important) situation, an emotionally stressful or traumatic situation, a critical state of affairs, or a problem that is coming to a head. Although it can be implied, or inferred, I was surprised to find that a crisis is seen more in terms of perception than of volume or magnitude. Certainly the number of Catholic priests found to be homosexuals, heterosexuals, or pedophiles had to reach a certain critical mass, to gain a wide enough visibility, before it could be considered as a crisis. And it goes without saying that The Celibacy Problem is an emotionally stressful one, and has very strong threads of trauma for both the victims and the hierarchy. Finally, I doubt that anyone denies it to be a very significant, important problem.

Consider just a few observations by investigators:

"In 1993, two archdioceses, Chicago and Santa Fe, declared themselves in danger of bankruptcy due, at least in part, to compensation paid to victims of clergy abuse. . . . Compensation, treatment and legal costs are estimated to have passed the half-billion mark between 1984 and 1994." [Sex, Priests, and Power, Page 8].
"One conservative estimate suggests that between 1984 and 1994 more than 5000 victims confronted church officials about their sexual experience with priests." [Sex, Priests, and Power, Page 28]
"(the majority of bishops) are aware that neither theologians nor anyone in the (Catholic Church's) hierarchy can even broach questions. 'Because they fear retribution from Rome?'
"By the start of 1993 there were two thousand suits nationwide involving Catholic clergy alone, and the number was escalating month by month." [Pedophiles and Priests, Page 129]
'That's right. So, nobody has the answers, and rather than recognize that, there's an appeal to blind authority. Authority is claiming that they know what is right and wrong about (priest's) sexuality, but the point is, they don't. For political or disciplinary reasons, rather than reasons of theology or pastorship or just good sense, you have a Galileo situation without a Galileo.'" [Lead Us Not Into Temptation, Page 289]
QUESTION: Is the problem of priests who abuse a crisis? Yes No

Bankrupt archdioceses, a half-billion in payouts, five thousand victims, two thousand court cases, a hierarchy that is afraid to address the problem - do such things contributed to the makings of a crisis? I think they do.

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A Higher Standard?

Catholic people are fond of claiming that the Roman Catholic Church is being singled-out for attack. Clergy of other denominations, they say, rightly, have also been found guilty of adultery, homosexuality and pedophilia too. This gives rise to the question, "Should Roman Catholic priests and the Church as a whole be held to a higher standard of accountability than any other group in this matter?"

I believe that the answer is "Yes, indeed they should be."

The Vow of Celibacy Why? Because, unlike any other group of men, Roman Catholic priests make a solemn vow of celibacy, which includes not only the refusal to marry, but the promise to refrain from any sexual activity, in the name of God and church. It is this solemn vow before God and man that places Catholic clergy in a unique category - with the attendant unique responsibility and accountability. In the minds of many, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, that vow places a priest a step above the ordinary man. They tend to view the priest as a truly holy, spiritual man whose great "sacrifice of sexuality" both ennobles and empowers him with a special, God-given ability to lead, to direct, to instruct in matters of faith, and matters of daily living.

Is there Really a "Chrism" Conveyed by Enforced Celibacy? But is this really the case? Does the vow of celibacy really convey such power, or, as the Roman Catholic Church calls it, such Charism? Surely there is Scriptural support for the idea of men choosing celibacy "for the sake of the Kingdom of God."(Matthew 19: 10-12). Yet notice that Jesus makes it optional, not mandatory. Some of His Apostles were celibate, some were married. He never made it a requirement for them! None can deny that all of them had equal power as witnesses of Christ. After decades of living, of observing, of studying, I am fully convinced that a vow of celibacy can be a very real "power-generator" - for those to whom it is a natural calling of God. I have met a few such men - very few. For them, even the thought of violating their chosen celibate state is unthinkable. I hold them in the highest regard.

Celibacy: Honored in the Breach From the moment the Roman Catholic Church made celibacy a requirement for her priesthood, that requirement was honored more in the breech than in the fulfillment. The history of the Church is replete with evidence of this sad fact, including a number of popes who sired bastard children, and even had some of those children made popes themselves! There was even a pope who was murdered by a jealous husband who found the "Vicar of Christ" having sex with his wife (Pope John XII). The box below lists some of the popes who sired future popes. It is enough to give one pause to think. Given both recorded history and current events, I can say with some assurance, that the requirement of priestly celibacy is a primary cause of The Celibacy Problem.

Popes who Sired Popes

Pope Anastasius (399-401) sired Pope Innocent I (401-417)

Pope Hormisday (514-523) sired Pope Silverius (536-537)

Pope Sergius II (904-911) sired Pope John XI (931-935)

Clerics who Sired Popes, Bishops and Priests

Pope Theodore I (642)-649) sired Bishop Damasus I (366-384)

Pope Boniface (418-422), Felix II (483)-492), Anastasius II (496-498), Agapitus (535-536), Marinus I (882-884) and John XV (985-986) were sons of Roman Catholic priests. [Lead Us Not Into Temptation; Page 179]

Adding Insult to Injury Another element to consider is the requirement of the Roman Catholic Church that her priests be called "Father." One implication is that the priest is, in some manner, to be viewed and respected as one would respect one's own biological father - with unquestioning respect and trust that he always has your best interests at heart. In the secular world, should a father sexually molest his own son, he would be dealt with most harshly. Given that a priest, who's "fatherliness" extends into the spiritual welfare of his "children," is it unreasonable to expect harsh punishment when he violates that vow, that implied requirement of the laity to trust the priest?

The Church's Unequal Treatment of violators Sadly, one does not find the Roman Catholic Church holding her priests to the high standard that she herself imposed in the first place. Let a priest marry, and he is immediately dumped, defrocked, stripped of his priestly privileges; it is almost immediate justice. But let that same priest seduce a woman parishioner, or a young girl or boy, or let him be an open homosexual, or even host a homosexual website, he gets a slap on the wrist, or perhaps a new assignment in a distant place. Otherwise he is left alone. This phenomenon (which I call 'assignment bingo") has been reported in case after case in courts of law, and in the comments of victims. This cover-up practice is too well-known to be denied. For a superb coverage of this topic, see Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children.
QUESTION: Should priests and the Roman Catholic hierarchy be held to a higher standard of morality that the common person? Yes No

In my opinion, I believe that Roman Catholic Priests, and the Roman Catholic Church itself must be held to a higher standard of morality than anyone else precisely because of the requirement of celibacy, and all it implies. If you imply a higher standard of performance, you must be accountable for that standard.

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Catholic Seminaries: Seedbeds of Perversion

Some claim that today's Roman Catholic seminaries (those that remain after the decline in priestly vocations) are actually attracting more homosexuals and sexually deviant men to the priesthood than ever before. In fact, a number of priests themselves support this thought:
"Alongside the attrition rate of thousands of priests who left to marry, the numbers of homosexuals entering the clerical life began to escalate. Dozens of priests over age fifty, in every region of the country, told me that in the 1970's homosexuals began pouring into seminaries and order houses. The 18 gay clerics I interviewed for 1987 articles in NCR" (National Catholic Reporter) "insisted that the younger generation " (of priests) " was a gay majority." [Jason Berry, Lead Us Not Into Temptation' Page 183]

How Many Homosexual Priests?

Catholic apologists say that the incidence of homosexual priests is no higher that can be found in the adult male population at large. None of them can cite statistics to support their case. This is one of the unfortunate results of the seeming lack of forthrightness by the Roman Catholic Church to investigate The Celibacy Problem and to report the results. Now consider the following:
"No one knows how many priests are homosexual, but researchers agree that the numbers are much higher than in society." [Jason Berry, Lead Us Not Into Temptation; Page 184]

A piercing insight by the same author is this:

". . . If you have a system that invites only celibate men into the priesthood, that opens up at least the possibility that a higher percentage of homosexual persons might be attracted to that than would be to some other professions." [ibid, Page 185]

Consider also the following from a Roman Catholic priest:

"Vicars of priests and seminary administrators who have been around awhile speak among themselves of the disproportionate number of gay men that populate our seminaries and presbytereates. They know that a proportionate number of gay priests and seminarians would fall between 5 and 10 percent. An NBC report on celibacy and the clergy found that 'anywhere from 20 percent to 58 percent of Catholic clergy have a homosexual orientation. Other studies find that approximately half of American priests and seminarians are homosexually oriented. Sociologist James G. Wolf in his book Gay Priests concluded that 48.5 percent of priests and 55.1 percent of seminarians were gay. The percentage appears to be highest among priests under forty years of age. Moreover, the percentage of gay men among religious congregations of priests is believed to be even higher. [The Changing Face of the Priesthood, Fr. Donald B. Cozzens; Copyright 2000 by the Order of St. Benedict]

When a man is immersed in a closed culture in which relationships with women are expressly forbidden, they are not at the same time stripped of their libido be it hetero- or homosexual. Yes, they do 'sign-up' for celibacy because it is required to attain a truly admirable goal: to become a priest who serves the people. But more often than not it is merely a means to an end that denies and ignores the nature of the man himself - unless, of course, that man is a homosexual or pedophile to begin with. All too often the result is what most researchers term "arrested psychosexual development." That is to say that for many priests, their ability to face, to deal with their natural sexuality, remains at am immature, juvenile level. Also, the Catholic tradition that considers celibacy a higher state than marriage, not only denigrates both marriage and women, but fosters intimate bonds between people of the same sex - men. Is it any wonder that the seminaries are producing an increasing number of sexually deviant priests?

Further support showing that seminary training promotes arrested psychosexual development of priests is offered by Roman Catholic priest Donald B. Cozzens:

"Yet the sobering realities of marriage, fatherhood, and mortgage that often shake an emotionally adolescent male into maturity remain, with growing exceptions, outside the experience of the seminarian and priest." And, citing writer Robert Hovda, Cozens goes on to say that "Clergy and other professional servants of the (Roman Catholic) churches are kept in a state of economic serfdom and dependency on fringe benefits, sycophancy and tax evasion, discouraging the very freedom, independence and maturity we are finally beginning to desire in our ministers." [The Changing Face of the Priesthood, page 73.]

A Sample Seminary Example

One current example of homosexuality in Catholic seminaries involves St. Patrick's Seminary, Menlo Park, San Francisco, CA. Reports by former seminarians at that location say that the place is a haven for homosexual seminarians. The rector of St. Patrick's, Fr. Gerald Coleman, S.S. is a Catholic priest who goes about promoting acceptance of homosexuality. The Catholic Wanderer recently published an exposure of Fr. Coleman's agenda that included Fr. Coleman's threatened charge of libel. To read this revealing article, surf over to The Wanderer at the link below, and go to Issue Date: 1-6-2000, Article Title: The Wander Responds. . . OK, click here to read it.

Is this an isolated example. Hardly. Consider, if you will, the following from a Catholic publication:

"Equally disturbing is the tendency of bishops to overlook the fact that a disproportionate number of homosexuals are being recruited into seminaries. I know of one seminary where, two years ago, 60 percent of the students identified themselves as 'gay,' 20 percent were confused about their sexual identity, and only 20 percent considered themselves to be heterosexual. I have no objection whatsoever to welcoming homosexuals into the priesthood". [Pastor Ignotus, What are We Advertising, The Tablet, April 24, 1999]

What is particularly disturbing is this Catholic authors' opinion that he has "no objection whatsoever to welcoming homosexuals into the priesthood." The facts cited, coupled with such opinions should be enough to make any sincere Roman Catholic mildly petrified. Could this really be the plan of Jesus Christ for his ministers?

Now two final quotes on this topic:

"Should our seminaries become significantly gay, and many seasoned observers find them to be precisely that, the priesthood of the twenty-first century will likely be perceived as a predominantly gay profession. Some, we shall see, believe it has always been so." [The Changing Face of the Priesthood, (Page 103)Fr. Donald B. Cozzens, Copyright 2000 by the Order of St. Benedict]
"At issue at the beginning of the twenty-first century is the growing perception - one seldom contested by those who know the priesthood well - that the priesthood is or is becoming a gay profession." [ibid, Page 107]

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Conspiracy of Silence

The Roman Catholic Church has been charged with maintaining a 'conspiracy of silence' regarding her sexually abusive priests and bishops. Consider the following:

"Diocesan leaders cannot reveal information that would prejudice legal proceedings nor can they speak of confidential details that rightfully remain private. Nevertheless, there is much that can be spoken by Church leaders to stop destructive rumors, to correct false impressions given by secular sources, and to allay unreasonable fears." [ A tragic Grace; page 51 ]

Most of the studies I reviewed on this topic either categorically state or quietly imply that the Catholic hierarchy has been engaged in a long-term strategy of keeping silent about the growing crisis of The Celibacy Problem. When queried about the practice of ignoring complaints and just shifting offending priests from parish-to-parish, the response of most bishops is - silence. When the internal Catholic system fails and a priest is exposed by public trial, he is typically sent off to some Catholic location for 'rehabilitation.' Amazingly, the large majority of such priests are 'rehabilitated' in a matter of months and returned to pastoral assignments. Again, these things are well documented in the Reference Material I have examined.

Is Celibacy an Issue?

A question that cannot be avoided is this: "If celibacy for priests was made optional rather than mandatory, would the incidence of sex abuse by Catholic Priests diminish? Would the number of homosexual priests be reduced?" I believe the answer is "Yes."

After extensive research, I am prepared to say that mandatory celibacy for priests is an issue, and does have a powerful link to the growing number of homosexual priests. Protestant seminaries, in which marriage is an option for both staff and students, suffer no similar crisis. Yes, one can find the occasional homosexual there, but they are the exception and not the rule as it is becoming in Roman Catholic seminaries.

There is no Scriptural mandate for celibate priests, none at all. This requirement is a 'doctrine of men' imposed by the Roman Catholic Church in centuries past. As such, it can be changed by their successors. This is a matter of Church discipline, not of dogma or doctrine (which are not subject to change). In fact, throughout the Roman Catholic Church there is an ever-increasing cry for exactly that . . . from priests and bishops alike. And, like many religious "doctrines of men," this doctrine has had serious repercussions from its outset - bringing about the exact opposite of what one would consider a spiritual objective.

I am well aware of the Roman Catholic objection that "celibacy for priests is not a 'doctrine,' but a 'discipline.' And as a 'discipline' it is subject to change while doctrines are not subject to change. More smoke-and-mirrors! Go check any worthwhile dictionary for the definitions of discipline and of doctrine. The difference is very clear, is it not? Alright. Now compare the Roman Catholic teaching on a celibate priesthood against those definitions. Which definition more accurately covers mandatory celibacy for priests? Is the Roman Catholic Church willing to change to permit married clergy? Despite a growing cry for it, Rome has been quite adamant that mandatory celibacy is here to stay. . . that it is not going to change. Sounds pretty dogmatic to me.

There are, in the Catholic Church today, a large number of priests who have married, yet continue to perform their priestly duties. While their bishops have canceled their 'clerical' privileges, no one on earth has the power to cancel their priesthood (sic., "once thou art a priest, thou art a priest forever!"). Catholic people should carefully note the difference between being an ordained priest and being a cleric: the two are not the same at all. You can surf over to Married Priests to get a perspective on this issue. Be sure to check-out the links you find at that site as they contain a lot of useful, insightful information.

The Final Questions

QUESTION: Is required celibacy linked to the problem of homosexuality and sex abuse by priests? Yes No
QUESTION: Can a priest be married and still perform priestly functions? Yes No
QUESTION: Can the Roman Catholic Church abandon required celibacy without violating her dogmas and doctrines? Yes No
QUESTION: Is there evidence that the number of homosexual and sexually abusive priests is above the average for peer groups? Yes No
QUESTION: Does the available research show that the Roman Catholic priesthood is becoming a predominantly homosexual profession? Yes No
QUESTION: Did Jesus require his Apostles to be celibate? Yes No
QUESTION: Does the Roman Catholic Church go beyond Scripture is making celibacy a requirement for her priests? Yes No
QUESTION: Would optional celibacy for priests be more viable from both a Scriptural and a practical perspective than required celibacy? Yes No
QUESTION: Can you think of just one valid reason why the Catholic Church tries to maintain a shroud of secrecy around The Celibacy Problem? Yes No
QUESTION: Does the practice of sending Priests who sexually abuse to other parishes solve the problem - or perpetuate it? Solve Perpetuate it
QUESTION: Does available evidence suggest that the Catholic Church, in an effort to protect her image, is engaged in cover-up activities regarding priests guilty of sex abuse? Yes No
QUESTION: Does the payout of half a billion dollars and the existence of thousands of civil cases against pedophile priests suggest the existence of a serious crisis in the Catholic Church? Yes No
QUESTION: (for Catholics only): Will you let your son visit the priest in the rectory, or go on private camping trips with the priest this year? Yes No
QUESTION: (for Catholics only): If your young son wishes to become a priest, would you consider it wise to investigate any seminaries he's interested it. . . to make sure you don't send your son into a haven of homosexuals? Yes No

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Reference Material


Lead Us Not Into Temptation: Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children; Berry, Jason, Image Books, ©1992

Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis; Sipe, Fr. A.W. Richard, Brunner/Mazel Publishers, ©1995. Sipe is an ordained Roman Catholic priest, now retired from active ministry.

Pedophiles and Priests: anatomy of a contemporary crisis; Jenkins, Philip, Oxford University Press, ©1996

A Tragic Grace: The Catholic Church and Child Sexual Abuse; Rossetti, Stephen J.; The Liturgical Press, ©1996 by The Order of St. Benedict, Inc.

Slayer of the Soul: Child Sexual Abuse and the Catholic Church; Stephen J. Rossetti; Twenty-Third Publications, ©1990, Stephen J. Rossetti and Twenty-Third Publications.

The Changing Face of the Priesthood; Fr. Donald B. Cozzens©2000, The Order of St. Benedict, Inc., Collegeville, MN

Internet Sites

Roman Catholic Faithful

"Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF) is a lay organization with many religious members, dedicated to promoting orthodox Catholic teaching and fighting heterodoxy and corruption within the Catholic Hierarchy." Here is a group of priests and Catholic people not afraid to grapple with the realities of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Scriptural Catholicism

Hosted by Catholic author and apologist Steven Kellmeyer, this sites' purpose is "to provide an easily-referenced index to the Scriptural underpinnings of Catholic doctrine and dogma. . . " An excellent site to study the Catholic teachings on apostolic succession, purgatory, sacraments, transubstantiation, and a host of other things. This site does mention "celibacy" (A whole half-page is give over to the topic). Sadly, it fails to distinguish between required celibacy and natural or self-chosen celibacy (which can exists for both a priest and a layperson alike, and which can, indeed, be a calling from God).

The Survivors of Clergy Abuse

Site includes a "clergy crimes" page that gives information on many Roman Catholic priests involved in litigation for sex abuse. A current events site that proves the pervasiveness of sex abuse by priests.

Survivor's Network for Those Abused by Priests

Seduction of women by priests, priestly pedophilia, and homosexual priests . . . things that the RCC plays-down and Catholic apologists try to minimize . . . come together at this site devoted to helping those who have been sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests and bishops. The very existence of such a site suggests that the problem is a lot bigger than Rome is willing to admit.

Survivor's of Clergy Abuse in Catholic Seminaries

An activist center for survivors of sexual assault, rape, incest and child molestation. The now-infamous Fr. James R. Porter case (Massachusetts) is covered here. You can subscribe to their newsletter, The Survivor Activist and read related articles. This group also maintains a database of known sex offenders.

Effects of a Celibate Priesthood

The title speaks for itself.

Celibacy Is The Issue Surf over to the C.I.T.I. (Celibacy Is The Issue) site for an eye-opening view of the many Roman Catholic priests who have gotten married and continue to practice their faith. The stated purpose of C.I.T.I. is to work for full use of married priests as priests. How many of them are there? Do they have Biblical support? Do they have Canonical support? Find out here!

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