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Why Would Celibacy Cause Pedophilia?
March 21, 2002 10:52 PM   Subscribe

Why Would Celibacy Cause Pedophilia? I been puzzled by the folks who are blaming the celibacy rule in the Catholic church for the pedophilic priests. Maybe I'm missing something, but the argument sounds counter intuitive to me.
posted by nobody_knose (23 comments total)

 
Ann Coulter, ultimate troll. I will not feed her. She is auto-mocking, no commentry needed.

Anyone can figure it out, IF the incidence its higher of pedophilia in the church, its most likely due to religious pedophiles trying to control themselves by devoting themselves to god.

I dont know anyone claiming catholicism causes pedophilia, but if someone did say that, they would be exactly as stupid as Ann Coulter claiming all gays are pedophiles. (Damnit, I got sucked in after all, curse her ubertroll skills).

Its like watching a boxing match between straw men, this.
posted by malphigian at 11:00 PM on March 21, 2002


I should add that I'm not posting this as a defense of the Church or as an attack on gays. Sure, I'm a conservative, but of the libertarian variety, and my twelve years in Catholic school cured me of any sympathy for the church. I just want to see how people are making this celibacy/perversion connection.
posted by nobody_knose at 11:00 PM on March 21, 2002


why is it any opinion that falls outside of Mainstream Mefi Thought automatically labeled as a “troll”?
posted by nobody_knose at 11:02 PM on March 21, 2002


but, malphigian, do we really know that it is higher in the church? everything I've seen has been anecdotal - do you know of any hard numbers that could be used for comparison? And what group of people are you comparing it against – the general population? Other Christian faiths? Religions overall?
posted by nobody_knose at 11:09 PM on March 21, 2002


Anyone can figure it out, IF the incidence its higher of pedophilia in the church, its most likely due to religious pedophiles trying to control themselves by devoting themselves to god.

Correlation != causation.
posted by aaron at 11:12 PM on March 21, 2002


Nobody: did you notice how I made the IF bold there, and caps? I said IF the incidence is higher, thats a reason.

Aaron: I sure wasnt saying thats a causation. For all I know, there are 100s of pedophiles who turned to the church and their faith helped them to conquer their sickness, I wouldnt be surprised.

As far as the "trolling" ... as much as I like being grouping into the amorphous-mefi blob, I rarely accuse of trolling, and I wasnt accusing YOU of trolling (if that wasnt clear).

But thats what Ann Coulter does, its why she keeps getting kicked down to progressively more fringe locations.

Let me 'splain:
Despite the growing media consensus that Catholicism causes sodomy

Care to point me to the media idiot(s) who said that celibacy causes pedophilia? Ill gladly attack them too. A consensus though? Surely we all know thats a blatantly false statement, which is followed by a laughably inflamatory gays are all plotting to rape kids in the woods tangent.

If you'd prefer not to call the above trolling, fair enough, I'll call it flamebait, or the writings of a lousy columnist who makes her living by shockvalue. Its certainly not logical arguments, or conducive to debate.
posted by malphigian at 11:21 PM on March 21, 2002


Anyone can figure it out, IF the incidence its higher of pedophilia in the church, its most likely due to religious pedophiles trying to control themselves by devoting themselves to god.

Why are you painting them are such nice people. Arguably, some might be doing the opposite - getting into the church for unrestricted access to children. My conjecture is as good as yours.

Another scenario that seems a bit more likely to me is that a very common measure of mental health is one's sexuality. Too much sex to the point of compulsiveness is deemed unhealthy. Repressed sexuality is also indicitive of psychological problems. Not to say that someone who is celibate must be ill, but some/many might be fighting with issues like depression, sexual repression, etc.

The Church welcomes and offers a lifestyle and occupation to the sexless. Celibacy is seen as holy, not a problem like it was in normal society. It stands to statistics that some sexual repressions might work to produce pedophiles. I think its safe to say no one knows how or why there are pedophiles, but they usually go hand in hand with mental illness and sexual frustrations.

Another hypothesis is that a young priest entering the clergy might find his vows of celibacy to be quite a challenge years later. Like rape is a crime involving overpowering the victim as well as being sexual, the priest may overpower the only person they are able to control - children.

MSNBC has a decent article on the various theories of why pedophilia exists in churches.
posted by skallas at 11:27 PM on March 21, 2002


all hail the ubber troll
posted by tiger yang at 11:31 PM on March 21, 2002


No, I won't deny Coulter's a bomb thrower. That's definitely the claim she's staked. I think I just perhaps misread your post about "IF the incidence its higher of pedophilia in the church..." I guess I'm still a bit confused as to what you're saying on that point. But then, there's so many debates whizzing around this thread already, after only 8 or 10 posts...
posted by aaron at 11:42 PM on March 21, 2002


At least we finally have The New York Times on record opposing sexual activity between men and boys. Evidently the only men the Times thinks should not be fondling teen-agers are those who purport to believe in God.

I'm sorry, what the hell is this lunatic talking about?

I was in a McDonald's once, years ago, and an elderly woman was standing near the ketchup dispenser. She turned to this guy next to her, and said, in a voice soft and almost to herself, "get the fuck away from the ketchup, you motherfucker, you cunts are always in the way, you cock suckers..." and she just kept babbling like this for the entire time I was there. When I looked at her, into her eyes, all I could see was insanity and hate.

I swear, when I read an Anne Coulter column, I think of that old woman.
posted by Doug at 11:44 PM on March 21, 2002


The Church of course doesn't breed pedophiles, but because the Church forbids priests to mate, it is probably a relatively comfortable place for people whose sexual habits preclude mating and do not require late-night cruising in assless leather pants or similarly obvious sexual tactics.

Priests are (or were) respected by the public, protected by the Church, presumed to be good, and always suspected last. Unlike any other person in society, the priest has never been subject to speculation as to why he hasn't mated like folk. No priest was ever pressured by pushy parents to settle down. No priest ever had to explain to the guys why he never has a girlfriend or boyfriend like regular people. Priests are (or were) trusted with children and encouraged to spend intimate time with them and share confidences with them. And priests get to wear those snazzy duds.

If the Church would let priests marry, it would diffuse this problem and greatly expand and improve the pool of men from which it draws priests. (It should of course let women become priests, too, but that's a different argument.)

And if Matt were to start a list of banned links, wouldn't this cretinous Coulter woman's column have to be the first addition?
posted by pracowity at 12:33 AM on March 22, 2002


Shit. I just noticed: defuse, not diffuse.
posted by pracowity at 2:44 AM on March 22, 2002


More conjecture:
It might also have something to do with a pedo-focused sex drive leaving one less concerned about having normal adult sexual relationships. As a result, seeing a celibate life as not such a big deal, and less of a sacrifice than it would seem to most sexually driven adults.

I know that requiring celibacy would be enough for me to rule out such a career path. But if my drive was for something socially unattainable anyway, then what's the difference.

For example: if you were gay, but living in a society where homosexuality was not accepted and punished severely, taking a celibate career could seem like a viable option.
posted by HTuttle at 2:58 AM on March 22, 2002


I've been confused about something. If Celibacy is the abstaining from sex, etc. how is it possible for a celibate to sexual abuse someone? If they were truly celibate wouldn't it be impossible?

Unless of course abstaining for a long time is supposed to cause unnatural stresses from sexual tension which leads to perversion.

Did I just answer my own question?
posted by Apoch at 3:04 AM on March 22, 2002


Here's the reasoning:

If the Church allowed women or married men to be priests, then they would be able to be pickier as to who get ordained, as more people would sign up, and thus they could prevent pedophiles from joining the priest pool. As well, there would be little temptation to hang onto priests, shuttling them around parishes, when said priests cause trouble by embezzling, molesting, or drinking too much.

Btw, to let y'all know the terminology: chastity = no sex; celibacy = no marriage

As the Church says sex outside of marriage is wrong, celibacy is supposed to imply chastity.

Back to the pedophilic priest issue - I think it has little to do with celibacy. I think it has =everything= to do with the fact that these men get quite a bit of access to children. Looking over the list of professions of the people taken in the latest child porn raid, one notices how a great deal of those professions have the people around children quite often. It makes sense to me, that if one were a pedophile, to pick a job that gives one more opportunities to be around children.

Talking to the Dominicans who run the Catholic Campus Ministry at NYU, they told me that their order had rules that they could never have unmarried students in their apartments (so I had never been invited over, until I got married), and that though have to meet students in private for the purpose of confessions, etc., they made sure there was someone else in the offices at the time.

There are married pedophiles just as there are unmarried ones. Removing the celibacy rule for clergy would just add a divorce problem to the pedophile problem -- the job would still be attractive to pedophiles. So I think, in addition to legal action after the fact, there needs to be preventive action, to make work rules so that it would be extremely difficult to get the opportunity to molest children.
posted by meep at 3:37 AM on March 22, 2002


All this bickering! as the famous saying had it about banks (willie Sutton) he robbed banks cause that's werhe the money is. So too messing with very young kids (aler boys) that's where the potential action is to be found.
As for being celebate: you need to get your rocks off from time to time. If wanking does it, fine, stay celebate...otherwise temptation is there. Women as preists and marriage for priests would present alternative ways to getting needed sex, a very strong drive.
As one molested guy said on TV: it doesn't matter if you are gay, hetero, white, color--a vow to celebacy is a vow.
posted by Postroad at 5:27 AM on March 22, 2002


People who see themselves as liable to sexually abuse children may become priests out of hope that the abstinence will "cure" them. Kind of reminds me of Tess of the D'Ubervilles.

Vaca
posted by vaca at 5:42 AM on March 22, 2002


As I said on another forum, if the Catholic church permitted married priests tomorrow, it would probably be at least a generation or two before even a simple majority were married (and this on top of dealing with the structural issues of priests who've vowed poverty now requiring salaries and houses instead of rectories). Some priests may always choose celibacy out of respect for tradition or other motivations. That leaves the church with a big problem, possibly, for many years to come.

My proposal was for a complete culture change in the church, a reform from top to bottom, much the way that Denny's reformed itself from a business notably unfriendly to minorities to the model for any company seeking to improve its diversity either within management or in customer relations. For example, instead of the secretive moving and hiding of sexual abuse cases, the church would aggressively seek them out, handle them forthrightly and publicly, and assist with any criminal charges.

I also said that years ago when The Verdict was one of my favorite films -- alky Paul Newman takes on one last case, a girl in a coma, suing the Catholic diocese that runs the hospital -- I thought the corrupt, secretive, unfeeling churchmen was an over-the-top portrayal. Now it looks like a documentary.
posted by dhartung at 6:04 AM on March 22, 2002


Celibacy causes something worse than pedophilia ... it causes celibacy!
posted by geronimo_rex at 6:33 AM on March 22, 2002


It would take only a few years before married priests constituted a majority of US priests if that were allowed ... for the simple reason that there are already thousands and thousands of men who left the priesthood in the 60's and 70's to marry, who are now retiring from their post-priest careers. Although some left the the church altogether, most, I suspect, would be overjoyed to resume their ministeries. I think a lot of parishes would love to have a 65-year old priest who has raised a family and had a successful career.
posted by MattD at 7:27 AM on March 22, 2002


I think there are a bunch of factual errors in the article in regards to the Boy Scouts of America. One of the big differences between the Boy Scouts of America and the Catholic Church is that the Boy Scouts of America have had a long-standing policy of parental involvement and making certain that adults are never alone with children. In fact, the church could probably defuse a lot of this scandal if they adopted a similar policy.

The notion that celibacy causes serious problems is probably due to Freudian concepts of sexuality although it seems to be in vogue these days to say that a lack of sexual activity causes everything from hairy palms to nearsightedness.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 7:57 AM on March 22, 2002


Actually, I think the 'celibacy causes pedophilia' argument is just incorrect. It more like the celibacy requirements are going to attract those who don't care about having normal adult sexal relations;ie pedophiles.
I come from a Catholic family, I live in a predominantly Catholic state and my mother teaches in a Catholic school and just about every Catholic I know thinks that preists should be allowed to marry, that it would be good for the preists and since it would attract more people to the preisthood, good for the church.
posted by jonmc at 11:25 AM on March 22, 2002


Did anyone else notice the sleight-of-hand where Coulter states that "no spate of sex scandals is engulfing the Boy Scouts of America" and then claims that the percentage of priests who molest boys is "still a higher percentage than the Boy Scouts" while giving us no evidence whatsoever? Did she do a Nexis search for child abuse cases involving Boy Scout troop leaders and divide that by the total number of troop leaders? Sure doesn't look like it from here.

She also misses the fact that, like the military, the BSA doesn't allow scoutleaders who are *openly* gay. Her assumption that the ban keeps gay men away from young scouts is almost certainly wrong. Of course, the presence of non-molesting gay men near young boys would totally ruin her little thesis, so the possibility therefore doesn't exist.

What a stupid person she is.
posted by mediareport at 3:02 PM on March 22, 2002


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