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Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Be honest about celibacy

In the recent news - Cardinal removed from public ministry after sex abuse allegation

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who led the Archdiocese of Washington and was a political force in the nation's capital, said on Wednesday that he has been removed from public ministry by the Vatican because of a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse .... McCarrick was also accused three times of sexual misconduct with adults "decades ago" while he served as a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, the current bishops of those cities said on Wednesday. Two of those allegations resulted in settlements, the bishops said ...

This case is similar to a case a few years ago in the UK when Cardinal Keith O'Brien retired after priests working under him went public with accusations of his sexual misconduct against them ... UK's top cardinal accused of 'inappropriate acts' by priests

Jesuit Thomas Reese had an article about this today - Priests, celibacy and sex - in which he writes about the weirdities of a mandatory celibacy rule that is overlooked by large percentages of clergy.

This isn't just about the criminal behavior of the sexual abuse of children by priests. Richard Sipe is quoted in the film Spotlight as saying that only 50% of the celibate clergy actually practice celibacy, which creates a culture of secrecy in the priesthood that encourages cover-ups. Priests have sex with parishioners, each other, their superiors, seminarians, and all this is furtive because of the public adherence to the rule of celibacy.

If the church is serious about reducing the sex abuse of children and the unhealthy secret relationships between priests and other adults, the church has to be honest about celibacy. If celibacy is important, then enforce it, and if it isn't important, then make it optional and let priests have public above-board relationships.

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