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Boston's Catholic Archdiocese questions link of celibacy to pedophilia.
March 15, 2002 4:41 PM   Subscribe

Boston's Catholic Archdiocese questions link of celibacy to pedophilia. The Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper, questions if celibacy causes sexual abuse by priests. Also questions if the priesthood attracts a disproportionate number of homosexual men. (Also on cnn.com and elsewhere.) What do you think? On a side note, the editorial also says that "We know that our sexual orientation is neither morally good nor evil." Since when was that a Catholic belief?
posted by aacheson (14 comments total)

 
the editorial also says that "We know that our sexual orientation is neither morally good nor evil." Since when was that a Catholic belief?

This has been part of Catholicism for a while. The idea is that sexual orientation is neither good nor evil. The sin is acting on sexual orientation, whether it's non-marital sex or gay sex. It's the whole "love the sinner, hate the sin" concept.
posted by neuroshred at 5:04 PM on March 15, 2002


If celibacy causes sexual abuse, then: a) Why is it only happening to kids? Why aren't they having affairs with and/or raping adults in equal numbers? b) Why aren't so many ugly, celibate-by-societal-force non-priests turning into pedophiles and rapists?
posted by aaron at 5:18 PM on March 15, 2002


I'd always assumed the priesthood offered those with sexual urges they felt were wrong (homosexual, possibly pedophiliac) a place to go where they could avoid all sexual contact. In other words, celebacy doesn't cause molestation, but attracts molesters to the priesthood.
posted by Doug at 5:37 PM on March 15, 2002


"Does priesthood, in fact, attract a disproportionate number of men with a homosexual orientation? "

Don't get it, do they?
Gay =Abuser? Homosexual = paedophile?

Sheesh....
posted by dash_slot- at 5:48 PM on March 15, 2002


can someone here make a thread without pedophiles involved? some of us are getting kind of sick of hearing about it. esp. the ones involved in the metatalk post that's finally died down.
posted by Kafei at 6:10 PM on March 15, 2002


Doug took to the words out of my mouth. Strong Catholics who repress their feelings of homosexuality (keep in mind Catholics contain a very broad spectrum of people, from almost-too-liberal-to-be-called-Catholics to fundamentalists), I always thought would chose going into the priesthood.

Aaron, I think it's perfectly logical to assume that a good number of priests are having "normal" affairs, with consenting adults.

According to this there are about 46,700 priests in the US. Now only a handful of priests have been convicted, I couldn't find numbers on child molestation but I'm sure one or two priests per 46,700 is way under the national average. Of course one would have to do a lot of speculating to figure out how many cases go unreported.

My point is, I don't think that there are that many more priests that molest than the general population. It just gets reported more because people trust the clergy and love to hear about old institutions trying to "cover up" things. I also don't think anyone is realizing how hard I'm trying to restrain myself from doing the "How do you get a nun laid?" joke.
posted by geoff. at 6:24 PM on March 15, 2002


My favourite statistic is of course that the annualized AIDS death rate of priests in Kansas and Missouri from 1987 to 1999 was seven times that of the general population. So not only are these people not celibate, but they're so not celibate that they die from AIDS at a rate 7 times the general population. Either that or they engage in a normal *amount* of unprotected anal sex with a wide array of anonymous partners (what else do you do during your lunch break in mens rooms at Arbys?). Either that or heroin. Or maybe they just need a lot of blood transfusions. Or maybe god hates them.

It's a shame really, because the clergy who aren't disgusting people who should be hung are really exceptionally good people, who even by the standards of anti-religion do a lot of work for little pay and sincerely care about the effect they have. Keep this in mind.

Also, people who think that pedophilia and homosexuality have anything to do with eachother are ignorant of both pedophilia and homosexuality. And as for this chicken and egg problem regarding the church attracting pedophiles or simply making them.....the balls in their court and they can either fumble around with them for years or straighten their act up.
posted by Settle at 7:29 PM on March 15, 2002


According to this story, at least 1100 priests have been accused of mollesting children which is around 2-3 percent. They also have a former Catholic priest turned therapist who estimates the number of actual abusers to be closer to 6%.

I don't know how much faith I put in those numbers, but I do think it makes sense that somebody who feels that acting on their feelings would be wrong would tend to choose a life where they could try to contain that. Further it doesn't seem like a stretch to expect that many of those people would despite their best efforts be unable to controll themselves.
posted by willnot at 7:34 PM on March 15, 2002


I think it's clear that there's no connection between homosexuality and child molesting...except that both are sexual "temptations" that would lead devout Catholics to seriously consider the celibate life the priesthood offers. That is, the connection between celibacy and homosexuality is independent of but similar to the connection between celibacy and pedophilia, and people confuse the two.

My favourite statistic is of course that the annualized AIDS death rate of priests in Kansas and Missouri from 1987 to 1999 was seven times that of the general population.

That number doesn't surprise me at all. What was it compared to the male homosexual population? These priests probably weren't particularly promiscuous, just ashamed, scared, and uneducated.
posted by oddovid at 7:49 PM on March 15, 2002


Willnot: Thanks for the link reference (According to...)

Settle: where's yours??
("My favourite statistic is of course that the annualized AIDS death rate of priests in Kansas and Missouri from 1987 to 1999 was...")
posted by dash_slot- at 8:04 PM on March 15, 2002


Regardless of whether priests have a higher or average molestion rate, what matters is these people are supposed to be moral authorities and as such have the trust of families and easy and unaccountable access to children. While the church is busy hushing things up, parents are fighting the good fight by asking themselves what the heck is the holdup with getting Mother Theresa sainted and whether Castlewolfenstien is turning their kids into killers.
posted by skallas at 10:32 PM on March 15, 2002


In some places like Kansas and Missouri the AIDS death rate was seven times that of the general population.
posted by zempf at 10:58 PM on March 15, 2002


According to a radio interview with the author of The Changing Face of the Priesthood:
  1. Non-celibate clergy of other faiths abuse children at the same rate as Catholic priests—seems to be more a position of authority with access to kids thing.
  2. The Catholic clergy is way more homosexual proportionally than the general male population.
For the record, the priest who made these claims (Cozzens) is clearly a very liberal guy, who thinks it's fine to have gay priests, that seminarians need to be more reflective and mature about their sexuality, which can only happen through openness...and in claiming #1 he was still regarding the pedophilia scandals (esp. the issues about the Church's handling of the incidents) with as much outrage as anyone.

Can anyone point to evidence refuting his claim #1? If it's true, then the problem can be seen in a very different light—as mainly concerning the protection child molesters get from the very closed and hierarchical system of the Church. Presumably most other religious organizations deal with it in a healthier way perforce, and don't dig themselves as deep a hole as the Catholic Church...
posted by Zurishaddai at 11:16 PM on March 15, 2002


Again even if #1 were true, the fact is that the general population does not have the Roman Catholic Church coddling them and keeping the public ignorant.
posted by Settle at 2:50 PM on March 16, 2002


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