Friday, December 12, 2014

Australian Press link Sexual Abuse to Celibacy.

According to a number of news sources in both Australia and the UK, in Australia, the Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church has released it's "Activity Statement". The two main points given in the majority of these news reports are - 1) celibacy may be linked to sexual abuse - and 2) the progress report by the Truth, Justice and Healing Council of the Catholic Church is at direct odds with a report by the Catholic Church in the United States that denied any link between child abuse and celibacy.

Naturally, any unbiased evaluation of sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church would have to include a study of both reports.

The Australian report can be found here.
The American report can be found here.

This post is not intended to a detailed analysis of both reports. I've included the links so that readers of this post can make their own evaluation. However, I would be remiss if I did not mention some of my thoughts on the two reports.

The report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is a 152 page document reporting on "The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010" and deals specifically with the causes of the abuse.

The Australian report is a 44 page document which attempts to cover several points - and not exclusively on the causes of sexual abuse.

The only mention I found dealing with the causes of sexual abuse by priests come on page 23 of the report.

"Culture and clericalism .
Throughout the public hearings and as the Council has engaged with stakeholders, many issues have been raised about the Church’s culture and the way in which it may have played a part in contributing to child sexual abuse within the Church.

There has also been much discussion about the impact of ’clericalism‘, which can be understood as referring to approaches or practices involving ordained ministry geared to power over others, not service to others. Clericalism has been seen as a contributing factor to the way in which the Church has responded to abuse claims and engaged with survivors. It may be seen as having played a part in the following:
• historically Church leaders seemed to have responded virtually identically to complaints of child sexual abuse
• Church institutions and their leaders, over many decades, seemed to turn a blind eye, either instinctively or deliberately, to the abuse happening within their diocese or religious order, protecting the institution rather than caring for the child
• historically, parents were reluctant to believe their children and did not confront Church leaders about allegations of abuse
• obedience and closed environments also seem to have had a role in the prevalence of abuse within some religious orders and dioceses
• another contributor may have been the way in which candidates for the priesthood or religious life were accepted for entry, and
• obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances."

From one sentence in the 44 page report - "obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances" - the press reports, "Celibacy may be linked to sexual abuse, Catholic Church concedes".

The headlines from the Australian and British news sources will give "ammunition" to those wishing to put an end to priestly celibacy in the Catholic Church. It's unlikely that those folks will bother to read any report that contradicts their opinion. All I can do is make the report available.

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