Thursday, 18 March 2010

Celibacy, child abuse, and the Catholic Church

The distressing stories about child abuse in the Catholic Church in previous decades and the subsequent cover-ups that spanned continents show no signs of abating. I don’t know if locking up geriatric offenders will bring victims much relief if they aren’t satisfied with the Pope’s apology but no one can blame them for seeking retribution.
I disagree with those who blame the rule of celibacy for the truly diabolical suffering of children who had the misfortune to fall within the power of corrupt clergy. A priest ceased to be celibate the moment there was any inappropriate conduct with a child – he broke faith in the eyes of the Law and the Bible.
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not forbid them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
Terrifying children to keep the abuse secret showed that the guilty and their protectors knew full well that crimes were being committed.
The abusers may themselves have been damaged as children but this is all the more reason not to exploit their positions of authority when they became adults.
Outside the Church paedophiles are as likely to be married as not as in crimes of incest.
So celibacy is not the issue. Here is not the place to debate whether celibacy was introduced a thousand years after the birth of the Christian Church to prevent official heirs making property claims on the death of their priest-fathers.
I do think, however, to tamper with sexual drives in healthy people is an instrument of brainwashing used in closed communities of religions and other orders throughout the ages. It may play a part in driving today's suicide bombers.

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What do you think? GC