Father Robert McGregor
A judge has condemned the vow of chastity required of the Catholic priesthood as "cruel" and "archaic" in sentencing a Sydney priest to jail for internet grooming.
Father Robert MacGregor Fuller received a maximum of 18 months in jail yesterday for grooming and procuring a child under the age of 16, but was given a six-month parole period and six months off his sentence for an early guilty plea, The Australian reported.
He had told the court he masturbated "for my own personal sexual needs". In response, the judge said it must be agonising to be a Catholic priest.
"I'm not a Catholic," Sydney District Court judge Allan Hughes was quoted as saying. "I do not regard (that) celibacy (should be) imposed on people. That is because it is a suppression of human instinct. It must be agonising. I don't know why they (the church) don't change their rules. It is archaic. It's cruel, cruel."
But the judge said children were vulnerable and sexually innocent and "for an adult to exploit them is repugnant", the ABC added.
Fr Fuller, who had served for six years at All Saints church in Liverpool, in south-west Sydney, was reported last year as having used a webcam to broadcast himself masturbating to 'Katie', who was in fact an undercover detective.
He was suspended by the Archdiocese of Sydney when he was arrested. Sydney's Cardinal George Pell is quoted by The Australian as saying about yesterday's sentence: "Justice has run its course."
Judge denounces `cruel' celibacy of Catholic priests (The Australian)
Priest jailed but celibacy vow 'cruel' (ABC)
Pell alarmed by alleged internet grooming priest