BY MICHAEL MULLINS
On the Royal Commission into the sexual abuse of children John W at v2catholic collects recent and not so recent statements on the link between compulsory celibacy and sexual abuse.
These include Bishop Geoffrey Robinson from the past week (“I find it impossible to deny that it has been [a significant contributing] factor”). There’s Hans Kung from 2010 (“Peter and the other apostles were married men and their ministries did not suffer”), and some blogs on the 2005 Bingo Report into the link between mandatory celibacy and clergy sexual abuse.
Michael Cook at MercatorNet describes talk of the link as “complete nonsense”.
Married rabbis, scout masters, teachers and Protestant ministers have all been convicted of child sexual abuse... Abolishing celibacy seems about as sensible as forcing bachelors to marry.
Cook urges a different solution to most commentators.
By all means bring the predators to justice, but the most urgent matter is to keep young people from becoming abusers. In this regard, the stench of hypocrisy is unbearable. Everywhere young people are being encouraged to abuse their peers. They aren’t being told where to draw the line. In fact, they are being told that there are no lines. At the same time as Australian politicians are making indignant speeches about sexual abuse of children, the New South Wales teachers’ union is distributing sex information kits which teaches students to experiment creatively with their sexuality.
Clerical Whispers is not optimistic that the Royal Commission will end child sexual abuse, referring to the sense of breakthrough following the Hollingworth interview on ABC TV in which then the Governor-General and former Brisbane Anglican archbishop appeared to blame the victim.
It is no wonder then that a decade ago hope was in the air that finally a seismic cultural shift was happening. Institutions would realise they had often failed abysmally in their duty of care and it was now time to listen and make amends to people whose lives had been ruined by that failure. No such luck. You do not change centuries of attitude and habit just because the media spotlight shines briefly in your dark corner.
Divine Wedgie focuses on the question of religious liberty and the seal of the confessional. He sees calls for government intervention to break the seal as “symptomatic of a wider trend towards the narrowing of the scope of religious liberty”.
Once "religious liberty" was taken to mean the freedom of religious bodies to act out on one's religious convictions in the public square without state interference, the concept is now taken to mean only the freedom to engage in worship within the confines of religious institutions, away from the public square, without government interference. ... The implied right by the state to demand the breaking of the seal of confession is not possible if it was not accompanied by an implied right for the state to direct worship towards state ends.
There is forensic detail in Gerard Henderson’s analysis of “Prosecutor” Leigh Sales’ treatment of the week’s events on ABC1’s 7.30, for which he says the program “could find no one who would support George Pell’s view”. On the day of the PM’s announcement
All nine interviewees are current critics of the way the Catholic Church has handled sex abuse cases. No other view was reported ... Leigh Sales then interviewed the former Catholic Bishop of Toowoomba, Bill Morris. Bishop Morris was recently forced to retire by the Vatican. ... In response to Leigh Sales’ leading questions about George Pell, Bishop Morris criticised the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney. As you do – on Prosecutor Sales’ 7.30 program.
Henderson adds context to his view about the ABC’s persecution of the church with ABC cricket commentator Jim Maxwell’s tribute on the anniversary of the death of his colleague, alleged sex abuser Peter Roebuck (“He brought a humanity to the broadcast [of cricket]”). Henderson comments:
Even now, on the anniversary of his death, Jim Maxwell is still banging on about Roebuck’s “humanity”. It’s impossible that Mr Maxwell and his mates at the ABC would have celebrated the “humanity” of, say, a recently departed Anglican bishop who just loved to exert discipline by caning the bare buttocks of young black men with a crucifix – and insisted on personally inspecting their welts after the event.
In a different context, dotCommonweal’s Eric Bugyis reflects on the consolation provided to him by his “parallel” Catholic parish.
I have found the idea of inhabiting a parallel Catholic Church to be one way of sustaining my own faith through the dark time of scandal, pastoral malfeasance, and political cynicism that continues to undermine the hierarchical Church. The wonderful community at my local parish and the excellent priests that serve us have kept me coming back every week in spite of the continual heartbreak that comes from seeing certain bishops and their friends take the public stage with a militant defensiveness, a hunger for power, and a litigiousness that seems to be the very antithesis of the Gospel’s message of self-sacrifice, humility, and love.
Sadly the pressure is too much for some priests. A 39 year old Irish curate Fr Murdeach Tuffy took his own life earlier this month. According to Fr Gerard Moloney CSsR at the blog of the Association of Catholic Priests:
He had given over thirteen years of outstanding service as a priest... If he had a fault, Bishop Fleming said at his funeral Mass, it was his inability to say no to so many people who came to him with requests, and no to his bishop, when, regretfully, according to Bishop Fleming, he did the same. ... And after Murdeach’s death, people were left with the question. Why? ... We will never know, but it is a reminder of the pressures priests face today, and maybe also of the difficulty we priests have in sharing – our burdens, and questions, our anxieties and darkness.
Perhaps the cure for priests under pressure is to connect with a wider public through blogging. According to research from the Centre for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University published last week, nearly a third of those surveyed said they would like their pastors and bishops to blog, even though only 5 per cent of respondents read blogs.
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every week.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.