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Priests and missionaries sexually abusing nuns.
March 20, 2001 8:52 AM   Subscribe

Priests and missionaries sexually abusing nuns. I'm thinking it's long past time the Catholic church re-thought the whole "celibacy" thing.
posted by dnash (22 comments total)

 
I've never really understood where the church came up with that concept. It doesn't really have any biblical basis, and it really does seem like an invitation for this kind of stuff to happen. Nearly all the Old Testament priests were married with children, and the ever-prolific Paul was supposedly married as well. He basically says that it's okay for someone to be unmarried, but only if they can handle abandoning their sex drive.

Maybe it works fine for some, but it really shouldn't be a requirement.
posted by OneBallJay at 9:07 AM on March 20, 2001


My revulsion at that report is unspeakable. 29 nuns in one order made pregnant by priests in that diocese? A priest officiating at the funeral mass of a nun who died after he made her pregnant and forced her to abort?

This goes beyond a response to "forced" celibacy straight to complete, selfish disregard for the humanity of these women. I am truly sickened.
posted by Dreama at 9:24 AM on March 20, 2001


I am truly hoping that this "response" to the story is intended to be satire.
posted by dnash at 9:26 AM on March 20, 2001


Celibacy has nothing to do with sexual abuse and rape, anymore than being gay has to do with pedophilia. By that logic we could say regular heterosexual sex spurs men to rape because most rapists engage in regular heterosexual sex.
posted by fleener at 9:32 AM on March 20, 2001


Fleener, I think celibacy is part of the problem in that the Roman Catholic church apparently thinks their priests are capable of simply turning off their sex drive forever. I believe there is ample evidence, throughout all of history, that this has rarely been the case. It is because they are forbidden open sexuality that they turn to hidden, abusive acts. And the church has also been somewhat notorious in its avoidance of dealing with the problems created by this.
posted by dnash at 9:36 AM on March 20, 2001


fleener, your logic (or lack thereof) is astounding. You're comparing things that can't be compared. Saying "regular heterosexual sex spurs men to rape because most rapists engage in regular heterosexual sex" would be equivalent to saying "celibacy spurs men to abuse and rape because most rapists are celibate." Both are absurd, but that doesn't mean that saying that celibacy causes problems is absurd.

Most people can't handle celibacy, and if they're forced to try, many of them will fail. It's an absurd requirement. accountingboy slightly misquoted St. Paul, who said that it's preferable (not okay) to be celibate. But he got the general emphasis right:

But if they cannot contain, let them marry: for it is better to marry than to burn.

For most of us, sex is a necessity, just like food and water. We don't need it as often as we need water, but we still need it, and if we don't get it, we suffer.
posted by anapestic at 9:41 AM on March 20, 2001


I've never really understood where the church came up with that concept. It doesn't really have any biblical basis ...


It doesn't. In fact, the Catholic Church canons did not require celebacy until the 10th century. Until then, the majority of (but not all) priests were married.
The change was made because priests were passing on church property [land] to their families. By making priests celebate, the Church was able to assure that its lands remained under church control.
posted by darren at 10:20 AM on March 20, 2001


It is because they are forbidden open sexuality that they turn to hidden, abusive acts.

I don't buy this. You could use the same argument to claim that closeted gay men are more inclined to sexually abuse people.
posted by rcade at 10:21 AM on March 20, 2001


It's adultery, too, since technically they're brides of Christ. (My aunt, a SSND, wears a wedding band.)

I think the whole ceilbacy thing comes from the desired focus on their mission that can be attained by lack of worldly cares and anchors. (For a really good first-hand account of the struggle for perfection, check out The Nun's Story (not the movie). While the Catholics should consider easing the celibacy thing for their own survival, I would also think that people know the deal before they go in. Don't like it? Lump it, and become an Anglican. (Not that I care what they do or don't do, just thought I could shed some light. [oops, that's what Lucifer thought, too, eh?])

Anyway, this whole sidebar on the celibacy issue is distracting from the fact that these guys are criminals. Good eggs and bad apples in every organization, but the cover-ups and deaf ears are unconscionable. The whole lot of them should be prosecuted to the full extent of the Earthly law...
posted by mimi at 10:30 AM on March 20, 2001


I don't buy this. You could use the same argument to claim that closeted gay men are more inclined to sexually abuse people.

Well...closeted gay men are more likely to be the ones caught cruising for sex in certain areas - like some public parks in large cities that are known for this. It's not abusive sex, in this case, but it's secret and in hiding - they're afraid to be seen in an acknowledged "gay space" such as a bar, so they look for other places. Often these men are married, and they didn't really understand their homosexuality until later. But for whatever reason, (often children, I suppose) they choose to remain married and just secretly have sex with men.

So, while my argument may not be the most scientific, I'm basing it on what I believe is the psychological truth that things that get repressed often come out in other ways that aren't always healthy.
posted by dnash at 10:32 AM on March 20, 2001


I don't believe that celibacy has anything to do with sexual abuse and rape. an organizational culture that approves of such things or turns a blind eye to it, does. tailhook, anyone?

rcb
posted by rebeccablood at 2:50 PM on March 20, 2001


Dnash: There's a difference between hiding something and abusing someone. I think the kinds of people who would rape nuns would abuse any power of authority they had over women, whether they were teachers, bosses, or priests. The role the Catholic Church plays in this is probably the same one they have in countless child molestation cases -- making things worse by refusing to face the reality of a problem and deal with the offenders.
posted by rcade at 2:51 PM on March 20, 2001


dnash: In response to your link, I can only quote the great Keanu Reeves--"whoa."

And 29 pregnant nuns in a single order is another "whoa." I had no idea the (hopefully few and isolated) bad apples in the Catholic church behaved this egregiously.
posted by DaShiv at 3:17 PM on March 20, 2001


Although this is a tad cruel, and not really addressing the issue at hand... has anyone actually ever seen an attractive nun? What are these guys thinking?! :)
posted by fusinski at 4:59 PM on March 20, 2001


Fusinski, you never had Sister Margaret Mary for 6th grade...
all the girls were totally jealous- and wanted to be just like her...
posted by mimi at 5:47 PM on March 20, 2001


How do you get a nun pregnant?


Dress her like an altar boy...
posted by Alwin at 8:49 PM on March 20, 2001



Celibacy doesn't seem particularly biblical either:

1st Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 4:2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 4:3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

also in a prior passage:

3:2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;

But hey, try finding abortion in the bible or love in it's those that supposedly follow it.
posted by IpxODIE at 9:39 PM on March 20, 2001


Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.

i always knew there was something wrong with vegetarians!
posted by pikachulolita at 9:49 PM on March 20, 2001


So, we're agreed then? Raping nuns is bad?
I'm glad that's settled.
posted by sonofsamiam at 7:16 AM on March 21, 2001


Although there are many fine priests in sub-Saharan Africa (the majority, I'm sure) it's important to recognize that becoming a priest there is a really, really different proposition than becoming a priest in the West.

In the West, becoming a priest means accepting a life of poverty and material deprivation, of a questionable social status in many eyes, and subjecting one's self to assignment in many poor and physically unpleasant places.

In Africa, a priest enjoys a far higher standard of living than almost any one else in the community can have, access to education and travel in the West otherwise nearly unobtainable, very high social status, and (because of the serious priest shortage in the West) some significant opportunities for immigration (many, many US Catholic parishes have at least one African priest on the staff, if not more).

With that stack of non-spiritual incentives, it isn't at all surprising that it should attract plenty of bad apples, including the rather apalling priests discussed in the article. Bottom line: this is a phenomenon not of Church corruption nor of the badness of the celibacy requirement, but of the poverty and lack of opportunity endemic in sub-Saharan Africa.
posted by MattD at 3:50 PM on March 21, 2001


Other interesting note:

IIRC, Catholic religious take a vow of celibacy (not to marry) and NOT a vow of chastity (not to have sex). Sex, being without marriage, is a sin (fornication) but not, therefore, a violation of one's priestly vows. This is why priests who have consensual affairs are not dismissed from the priesthood when their affairs are revealed ... so long as they are properly contrite for the sin.
posted by MattD at 3:56 PM on March 21, 2001


Actually, in the religious writting I'm familiar with, celebacy refers to not having sex, and chastity refers to not having sex outside of marriage. Thus married people who are faithful to their vows are chaste but (presumably) not celebate.

But MattD, you're not the only person I've seen use the words the way you did. Confusing.
posted by straight at 1:05 PM on March 22, 2001


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