In a report released this weekend by the Catholic Church of Australia’s Truth Justice and Healing Council, there was a stunning admission that the requirement for priestly celibacy may have contributed to the sexual abuse scandal.
Church institutions and their leaders, over many decades, seemed to turn a blind eye, either instinctively or deliberately, to the abuse happening within their diocese or religious order, protecting the institution rather than caring for the child…
… obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances.
Wow… could they have played down that admission any more? It seems obvious that not having another outlet for their natural urges pushed some priests to awful depths to satisfy them.
But despite the admission, there’s no movement with the Church to soften that requirement.
In an interview with an Australian news program, the chief executive of the council, Francis Sullivan, explained that not much will change on that issue:
[Host Samantha Donovan]: Is there any chance that celibacy will no longer be a requirement in Australia for Catholic priests?
Sullivan: No, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re not saying let’s get rid of celibacy.
Later in the interview, Sullivan was asked about the Vatican’s response to the report. His response tells you everything you need to know about the Church’s intransigency:
[Donovan]: Has there been any response or feedback from the Vatican on this council report?
[Sullivan]: No, not at all (laughing).
Doesn’t make you feel very optimistic.
And this is the problem with the Church — it’s slow to act even when the consequences are both obvious and dire. Traditions need to be changed when they aren’t working anymore, but the Church fears change much more than it wants to fix problems of its own creation.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Scott for the link)