Ever since the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal first exploded in Boston over 15 years ago, the Church hierarchy and Church apologists like blow hard William Donahue of the Catholic League (a largely two person operation) and the cite Church Militant have worked hard to blame gays for the wide spread abuse of children and youths by Catholic priests. Great efforts have been made to ignore the roles of (i) Church's bizarre 12th century view of sexuality and (ii) the unnatural rule of mandatory celibacy for Western rite priests (no such requirement applies to Eastern rite priests) have played in creating the atmosphere for widespread abuse. Now, after a years long study, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a report that lays blame squarely on the celibacy rule, a rule first implemented by the Church hierarchy to preserve Church funds and assets from the costs of maintaining priest' families (money has always been the Church leadership's real god). A piece in DeutscheWelle looks at the report's findings which will not be happily received by the bitter old men in dresses at the Vatican. Here are some article highlights:
Among the 189 recommendations put forward by the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse are two for the Catholic Church to lift its demand for mandatory celibacy and enforce mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse, even if it is heard during confession.
A five-year study from Melbourne's RMIT University on child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church found that mandatory celibacy is the major precipitating risk factor for child sexual abuse.
DW spoke to Professor Des Cahill, who co-authored the report with Dr Peter Wilkinson.
DW: How did you come to the conclusion that mandatory celibacy is a risk factor for child sexual abuse?
Professor Des Cahill: In the [psychological and psychiatric] studies of priest offenders, the key facts were that the offending priest perpetrators were either psychologically immature or psychologically mal-developed and suffering from loneliness, lack of intimacy and sexual deprivation, and they became terrorized with their own sexual desires and sexual thinking. In their sexual deprivation their thinking mutated towards children, and so they began grooming young children and eventually abusing them sexually and emotionally. . . . . I and the Commission in the report make very clear that homosexuality is not the cause of clerical sex abuse.
Does that mean sexual deprivation and lack of physical relationships is the major reason that someone might become a child sex offender?
It's the clericalist incubating culture, and celibacy is part of that. One of the elements is the lack of contact with women. Take the example of the Christian Brothers who are the major teaching order for boys in Australia. Young men who were educated in all-male Catholic schools, went to all-male minor seminaries and then went on to all-male novitiates, perhaps went to university and became teachers, but didn't have much contact with the feminine. Then they lived in all-male communities, teaching in all-male schools.
Eugen Drewermann would argue that is a psycho-spiritual recipe for disaster and that's what happened among the Christian Brothers in Australia. 22 percent offended sexually against the boys they were in charge of, especially in orphanages and farming schools in country areas.
[T]he profile – and the Royal Commission is strong on this – of Catholic clerical offenders is different from the profile of child sex offenders generally. They offend much later in life, they are better educated, and in other aspects of their personality profile they are reasonably normal although, as the Royal Commission points out and as we point out in our report, there is a high degree of narcissism amongst Catholic priests and that also is a factor in the offending. They are totally focused on self and their own sexual identity, their own sexual thoughts etcetera.
Would lifting the ban on mandatory celibacy result in a decrease in child sex abuse in the Catholic Church?
When we looked at Eastern Rite Catholic Churches we found there was virtually no clerical sex abuse because in those eastern churches the priests have a choice between marrying or not marrying. In the Latin Rite Catholic Church, [priests] took on celibacy as part of the priesthood package. This is why the Royal Commission has recommended – and it was based partly on our report – the Australian Catholic Bishops make a request to the Vatican that married persons should be admitted to the Catholic priesthood.
What effect does the seal of confession have on cases of child sexual abuse being reported?
Until now in Australia priests have not been required to report any cases of child sex abuse. The Royal Commission has recommended this should be applied to Catholic priests even when they are hearing confessions. Already there is opposition to that from the two leading archbishops in Australia.
There is a tension between the seal of confession and obligation towards the welfare of vulnerable children. Unfortunately Pope Pius the 10th in 1910 lowered the age of confession from 13-14 to seven, which meant offending priests had access to younger children and were able to begin the process of grooming those children, and that, I think, is one reason why the problem became worse in the 20th century.
It should be noted that celibacy is not the only causation factor. The Southern Baptist Convention which clings to similar 12th century views of sexuality likewise has a huge sexual abuse problem. Ridiculous obsessions with all things sexual, rejection of modern knowledge, and the embrace of ignorance all seem to also play a role in setting the stage for sexual abuse.