The National Catholic Review

One factor you don't see listed by the National Review Board in their 2002 report to the U.S. bishops on the causes of clergy abuse is celibacy. Because celibacy does not cause pedophilia. But that hasn't stopped otherwise thoughtful pundits and commentators, and among them even some Catholics, from opining on celibacy as a cause of the crisis.

Around the same time as the National Review Board released their findings, the John Jay College of Criminal Justice concluded a nationwide study, reporting that around four percentof American priests between 1950 and 2002 had been accused of abuse. Even one case of sexual abuse is too much, but that figure is half that of the overall percentage for American males, which, according to Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, is one in ten. (In a recent Newsweek article, Margaret Leland Smith, a researcher at John Jay, estimated that the figure is closer to one in five.) "We don't see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else," Mr. Allen told Newsweek.

And, as Mary Gail Frawley-O'Dea, a psychologist and expert on child sexual abuse, and Virginia Goldner, also a psychologist, noted in a hard-hitting book entitled Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims, the sexual abuse of children has also occurred among Protestant ministers, Jewish rabbis, Islamic clerics, Buddhist monks, and Hare Krishna officials.

None of this has stopped commentators from excoriating priestly celibacy as a primary cause of sexual abuse.

But doing so makes little sense. For one thing, if four percent of American priests were accused of abuse, it means that 96 percent of priests have not been accused of anything and are leading healthy, productive lives in the community. (Bluntly put: if celibacy causes abuse, why aren't the other 96 percent of priests pedophiles?) For another, 30 percent of abuse takes place within families, yet few sane people point to marriage as a cause of child abuse. When schoolteachers abuse children, few sane people say that teaching leads to pedophilia. Many widows and widowers, not to mention some single men and women, are celibate. No one suspects them of pedophilia.

So why is the celibacy of Catholic priests singled out?

Read why on Huffpost.

James Martin, SJ

Comments

Gerald McCraken | 4/14/2010 - 2:22am
Dimitri, 
it is not a question of "whether celibacy or abstaining from sex for a long period destroys one's mental or emotional health and leads one to sexually abuse minors". 
It could be a question of "how celibacy, or abstaining from sex for a long period affects an individual with sexual desires for the same sex's mental or emotional wellbeing and whether that leads one to sexually abuse minors"
Or more specifically, "how celibacy, or abstaining from sex for a long period affects an individual who chose it to avoid an obvious expression of their sexual desires for the same sex's mental or emotional wellbeing and whether that leads one to sexually abuse minors".
It is to bring into question not just Freudian but also Adlerian elements of psychology, the will to power or superiority/inferiority dynamics.
No, of course, celibacy does not "cause" pedophilia. That is the lowest level of pop psychology theory but where such high levels of incidents are being found, so contrary to the spirit of the environment and defend by such strenuous institutional forces ... what else in going on to cause this.
 
How can it be treated, defended against, removed or eradicated?
Gerald McCraken | 4/14/2010 - 2:10am
Let's cut to the bone on a number of issues that I do not see here so far.
a) What ever else the Roman Catholic Church is, it is also a business, and it depends on business (financial income) for its existence. Much of that business, in its past, has been grossly abusive (the fruits of slavery, Spanish and Portuguese imperialism etc).
What ever else the reasons for celibacy are, and I am not disagreeing with them, it is also 'good for business' to have a workforce, even an underpaid or not paid workforce, unencumbered by the mental, physical and financial demands of family. Financial demands not just on the individual priest but also the establishments and laity that supports him. That is to say, a celibate priest hood.
Whereas the church is a business, the general population are the primary resources it depends on and, essentially, it is in competition with other religions, or orders, for domination of those resources. Within this competition, having a celibate priest hood is likewise advantageous. In other words, more bangs for the bucks.
You will not the starkness of such a rationalism but this is the nub of the issue. It is about the management of resources ... the income, the money ... and in that the real world cost of the sexual abuse of children has been easily passed back onto the society that supports the church upon which the church has had an abusive and parasitic relationship rather than symbiotic ... to some degree.
Given that pedophilia is at the very least an abusive of power, to what extent are some individuals attracted to the church as a means of expressing their desire of abusive, imbalanced power relationships?
b) Not wishing to beat about the bush, in conservative societies and until recently due to its criminality, adopting the garb of celibacy has been a very good cover for homosexuality ... perhaps the only form of expression and respectable avenue  ...
But, even though we might accept that those who are homosexually inclined can make very good priests because of their balance of what one might define as male and female qualities; spiritually and psychologically, one would have to question whether doing so is the same as a pure and unfettered desire for such a discipline.
Such a statement is not meant to be condemnatory in nature but compassionate to the individual afflicted by such sexual desires. Repression being a recipe for disaster, other avenues out to be sought for the sake of both the individual and the society on which his suppressed desires might vent.
c) Love and sex are not the same things, let along spiritual Christian love. Choosing these words knowingly and deliberately, divinity is not to be found in another man's genitals or anus. The adoption of homosexual sexual practises does not take us closer to God. Let us be clear as Christians what love and sex are and the nature of homosexual sex and not fall subject to popular, political correctness. 
Yes, tolerance and accommodation of others are virtues and acceptance is good for the business of the Church (whether measured spiritual or financially). But that is not the ultimate point of it.
A point of absolute clarity is required and been seen to exist. These taboo issues, however uncomfortable, must be brought out into the light, determined upon and a clear position taken. No more compromises for the sake of business or defending the resources of the church both human and financial.
If it means financially breaking the Church, then that is God's will. Let us start over again with a clean house.
Celibacy Does not Cause Pedophilia, the topic states. How do we know and what do we know? The spiritual position of the Church and popular psychologists is not the same.
i) Homosexual pedophilia is vastly more prevalent than heterosexual pedophilia, just as male pedophilia is vastly more prevalent than female pedophilia.
ii) Pederasts, or ''man boy lovers, now fashionably claim to be different from pedophiles. They like their male children slightly older.
ii) Homosexuals claim not to be pederasts nor homosexual pedophiles but all sexes are attracted to those most attractive and that is more often the young in body.
What do we really know about divisions in homosexual instincts and desires, how it is tempered by willful repression and where the differing instincts blur?
Of course, not all homosexuals are sybaritic hedonists just as not all homosexuals are elderly pedophiles but at either end of the spectrum, the attraction to youth is prevalent.
Is it about the abuse of power or could it even be spiritually parasitic? I do not know ... but allow us be brave enough to discuss the issues without artificial inhibitions and without having to be limited to the current popular status quo, formed outside of the Church.
And let us clean up our house now. No more compromises and no more cover ups.
Dimitri Cavalli | 4/12/2010 - 2:16pm
I'm surprised Father Martin fails to get into the medical, scientific, and psychological question aspects of celibacy.
Is there any medical, scientific, and psychological evidence that shows that celibacy or abstaining from sex for a long period destroys one's mental or emotional health and leads one to sexually abuse minors? 
Is abstaining from sex the same thing as abstaining from food and water?
Julius-Kei Kato | 4/12/2010 - 2:09pm
Here's my 2 cents worth. I don't think it is fair to claim categorically that ''celibacy is NOT the cause of pedophilia'' in a system in which celibacy is enforced of all those seeking to be priests without any other alternative. In short, the title ''Celibacy is not the Cause of Pedophilia'' is misleading in a Roman Catholic context because there is no other alternative priestly state. If there were other ways of being priests (say, married male priests, women priests, etc.), then, statistical studies could be done and the statement 'celibacy is (most probably) not the cause of pedophilia' could be better supported in an empirical way. As things stand in the Roman Cath. Church, ''mandated'' celibacy (I think this description always has to be added for optimum contextualization) should always be considered as one factor (never ''the only'' factor) in trying to evaluate the cause of anything concerning priests, be it positive (e.g. greater fruitfulness) or negative (e.g. pedophilia) because celibacy is a sine qua non for all Catholic priests. Besides, Fr. Martin goes against the respected voices of people such as Daniel Cozzens and Richard Sipe (check http://www.richardsipe.com/Miscl/vatican_connection.htm) who arguably are in a better position to opine on the matter and who clearly point out that madated celibacy is a significant factor in the woes besetting the Roman Catholic priesthood. Finally, (I concur with Dale R.) even if only 4% of priests have been accused of pedophilia, that does not mean that 96% of priests are -in the words of Fr. Martin- ''leading healthy productive lives.'' I'm also an insider of the system and, while I know many good and wholesome priests, there are also a lot of priests who are lonely and dysfunctional (Jesuits among them!) and who act out their problems in other ways than pedophilia. Only if we are brutally realistic can we hope to solve this problem!
Dale Rodrigue | 4/12/2010 - 1:52pm
Exactly as I thought.
I am accused of all kinds of things and name calling but when asked to document specifics from Brett I get this: ''It is not what you write that is a distortion, per se...'' In other words no proof.
Then Brett states: ''you want to discredit priestly celabicy (sp)'' by ''selective'' facts.
More questions for (you but you haven't answered any of the previous questions): Where did I say I wanted to discredit celibacy? Where did I say I wanted to eliminate all celibacy? Then when asked for proof you cannot give any.
I was telling my personal story of how some priests have a difficult time with a celibate lifestyle.

I will cut and paste for you what I said Brett:
''Celibacy should be optional as it was in the early church. The diaconate has grown almost 1000%, why is that? Optional celibacy, 95 % of all permanent deacons are married.''

So where did I want to discredit celibacy in that comment?

I also state, and I quote:
''My point Fr. Jim is that for some celibacy can indeed be a charism and fullfills that priest's life. You, father Jim are one of those.''

How does that discredit celibacy?

You also state: ''dstorions for your campaign against the Church''. Again, proof of where I launched a campaign or where have I ever spoken out against the Church? I have spoken against corrupt leadership, but never against the Church.
Again, I ask for proof,cut and paste what I have said against the Church.

Rather,you read my posts w/ a preconceived bias, looking for areas to dispute but when challenged cannot produce evidence.

As far as the quote from the Jerusalem Times, it was in print, picked up by the AP and printed in newpapers on FridayApril 9, 2010.
Yes Brett, I will say a prayer for you and say one for me. But I want you to also say a prayer for all victims of sexual abuse and the near death of their souls when clergy looked the other way while they were being abused. You are young and rough around the edges Brett, I hope you pursue a career in law, you'd make a fine attorney, pain in the butt attorney but a fine one at that.
Thomas Piatak | 4/12/2010 - 11:11am
Thanks for writing this, Father.
Anonymous | 4/12/2010 - 1:15am
Also, now that I have given you a link to stats on abuse in the US - for the final time, I request that you give me the link to the story in the Jerasulem Post.  Does this article even exist online or did you read it in the physical paper? 
 
Why will you not provide this information?
Anonymous | 4/12/2010 - 1:09am
http://www.darkness2light.org/KnowAbout/statistics_2.asp
 
This was just from the article you were commenting on, Dale...
 
It is not what you write that is a distortion, per se, it is the selective use of facts that is the error.  You write of all the alcohol, eating, depression and dysfuntion that some priests experience but you ommit many thousand of happy, fulfilled, holy and celibate religious vocations.
 
You cite negative examples only because you want to discredit priestly celabicy - this is your goal and you will only use example or facts that fit your ideology.  Does this make certain facts that you cite wrong?  Nope - but does it capture the entire reality.  NO.
 
Just like the liberal media - that Sean Michael Winters has done a great job exposing in recent posts - you highlight certain indicents to paint and slander an entire group of people with the evil acts of a few.
 
Read the post from Maria above this and say a prayer for Benedict tonight - I'll say one for you and you can do the same for me.
 
 
Dale Rodrigue | 4/11/2010 - 11:12pm
1.  Because you don't dialogue.  You pontificate.
2.  As far as a distorted view of the priesthood, where did I say that? Show me where I said that?
Again, another distortion on your part.
3.  You can't handle the truth.  The examples I gave are all true, but they don't fit into your little construct.  So you don't respond, you only distort them.  I listed factual events, you contort it into a''distorted view of the priesthood''.  When the facts set off alarms in your head you just throw them out.
4.  List the false claims you allege I make.  Another distortion on your part.
5.  List the distortions you allege I make.
Now stick to the agenda.  List the false claims and distortions.  Also, list the source of your 39 million sex abuse victims in the US.....
As one of the other post said, your an angry person. So sad and so true.  And I believe Deacon Eric also had a juicy response for you too.  
So how about it there Brett, some facts instead of polemics.  Answer my questions above and copy/paste from what I wrote when you answer the questions.
 
 
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 11:00pm
Dale- You remarked that "Some gullible people will believe it's "just the human condition" or "the devil made me do it". I say: Never, Ever, Ever underestimate the Enemy. We do so at our peril.

The Knights of Columbus have invited us to pray a Novena for St. Benedcit-

PRAYER FOR POPE BENEDICT XVI
Lord, source of eternal life and truth,
give to your shepherd, Benedict, a spirit
of courage and right judgment, a spirit
of knowledge and love. By governing
with fidelity those entrusted to his care,
may he, as successor to the Apostle
Peter and Vicar of Christ, build your
Church into a sacrament of unity, love
and peace for all the world. Amen.
V/ Let us pray for Benedict, the pope.
R/ May the Lord preserve him,
give him a long life,
make him blessed upon the earth,
and not hand him over
to the power of his enemies.
V/ May your hand
be upon your holy servant.
R/ And upon your son,
whom you have anointed.

Our Father… Hail Mary… Glory Be…

KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS

In Solidarity With Our Holy Father
Adapted from Manual of Prayers
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 10:08pm
PS - please provide that link to the article you referenced earlier in the Jerasulem Post...
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 10:05pm
What exactly would the point of dialogue be then, Dale? 
 
You specificly give a distorted picture of the priesthood so I give a rebuttal - it is too bad if you cannot handle it in a civil manner.  There are as many satisified and fulfilled priests as there are people - and I am sure that there are also unhappy ones.
 
Reality and your ideological construction of it are two different things!
 
As for "clericalism," if this is the cause of all evil and abuse - why are the 39 million sexual abuse victims in the US today and only a tiny fraction are Catholic?
 
You put out false claims and distorions for your campaign against the Church and I will challenge them...
 
 
Dale Rodrigue | 4/11/2010 - 9:57pm
''Such a negative picture from Dale''?  Yes it is Brett. 
And it's presumptuous of you to state I forgot Grace?  Who elected you chief of the Sanhedrin?
I didn't cause the ''negative picture'', the system of clericalism did.
The ''such negative picture'' is correct and true.  Should we cover that up too because it is ''such negative picture''?  Keep it secret because it's negative?  Lets do nothing, grace will take care of it. Some gullible people will believe it's ''just the human condition'' or ''the devil made me do it''. 
There is a cause for all of this, it has reared it's ugly head, it's called clericalism and it is systemic.  Blaming the human condition is a cop out and an excuse.  It only minimizes the SUFFERING of the victims. Funny how Benedict can dispense w/ a bishop who marries in just a few days but takes years to respond to complaints of abuse.   Knowing all those abuse cases on his desk at the CDF he should have said My God there is a problem.  Lets uproot if before more children are raped. If he had done so he would have become a beloved pope and a saint too.
NOPE, just dealt with the ones on his desk who got caught and the rape continued.  Yes, he knew it was happening but dealt w/ it only when the cleric got caught.
Funny how the Penitential Rite says forgive me for what I have done AND what I have failed to do.... both are sins.  Maybe Benedict uses the short form.
 
From now on Brett please do NOT respond to my posts directly and I won't to yours in order to keep the peace on this site. My post was directed to Fr. Jim, not you. I personally don't give a hoot about your opinion or what you think.
And Kate, God bless you for your fight for the TRUTH.  Remember, Christ is always with you and he is a mighty powerful God indeed!
 
Kate Smith | 4/11/2010 - 9:50pm
Thank you, Jack and Maria.   There is grace all over! 
 
 
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 9:43pm
PS - Jack, you should put as much of your anti-authoritian ethos and research into the evalution of the press reports on the pope as you do against the Church itself. Then ask yourself why they seem willing to lie and manipulate facts to attack this man?
 
You might question your convictions against Benedict - Sean Michael Winters piece is a good place to start.
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 9:37pm
Jack-How wonderful to remind Kate of the majestic words. Thank you! There is nothing that can bring me to tears faster than St. Paul. We would all do well to remember that we must be "strong in our Faith".
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 9:35pm
Jack, are you thanking me for helping you back to protestantism?  I certainly hope not - however, your ideas (that I cannot seem to sway you on) are very modern and individualistic so I could see who this might be the case.
 
Then again, I am a young, brash Catholic so take me with a grain of salt...listen to a Maria over me any day of the week.
 
You write: "We thought is was only in the US, but then we find it is all over the world"  The same could be said about abuse in state schools or in other religious organizations.  And, I am afraid you have an exagerated idea about the power and centralization at the Vatican - another very protestant idea...
 
You also write:  "And then we find that it is really the product of a "culture of death" that has been living a secret, festering life in the Catholic Church for centuries and is even now being protected at the highest levels." 
 
Again this is typical anti-papist ideology...the conspiracy, power etc. etc.  Mistakes were made but reforms are in place in the US and going world wide so that this cannot happen again.
 
Perhaps I demonize the liberalism of the age in the same way, and should tone it down a bit - however, I wish you would consider the nature of the ideas around you and how they affect the culture - abortion, radical individualism, radical consumerism, human pride in "progress" and its gnostic origins. 
 
Again, put more faith in Maria's wise commentary than mine.
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 9:18pm
And you are absolutely right to do so, Kate. I am heartened to know that there have been some Jebbies on your side. The abuser and the Society will one day answer to God for his crime and the crimes of all the other Jesuits who have violated others. I cannot remember where I read this-as I have read so many articles about sexual abuse lately that I cannot keep them straight-but a cleric of some sort said that sexual abuse is *spiritual homicide*. Best descriptor of the sin I have ever seen. Homicide. as we know, is a sin that cries out to God for vengance. Remember: He is "with us until the end of time"...
John Raymer | 4/11/2010 - 9:16pm
Kate, Recall the words of St. Paul as you pursue your case:

Finally, my bretheren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this present age, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto yourself the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
Stand therefore with your loins girt about with truth, and having the breastplate of righteousness; and your feet shod with preparation of the gospel of peace;
Above all taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench the fiery darts of the wicked.
And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God
Kate Smith | 4/11/2010 - 8:59pm
Maria, I am pretty sure I can find one of his books.  My much loved aunt, who now is in her late 80's with dementia, has quite a collection of books, and I remembered seeing his name.
 
There wasn't a reason to bring up all the fine Jesuits I know, but now I sense an invitation.
 
When I reported the Jesuit perp in January 2003, my Jesuit spiritual guide backed me up 100% and talked to the province too.    He was there from start to finish.
 
A Jesuit who had heard my first attempts to report it 20 years ago acknowledged it in 2003;   even with the passage of 20 years, we both remembered it the same.  He didn't lie about it.  
 
When I was reporting it in 2003, to one province, Missouri, another province, New England, sent me a check to cover anything I could do to make it tolerable:  a vacation, therapy, whatever.  
 
And the 2003 Jesuit president of the school that did nothing about it in the past invited me to meet with him, and when I did he asked me at least 6 times what he could do to help.
 
And the Missouri provincial handled it very well in 2003, dealing with me and with the perp Jesuit.  And the Jesuit who handled the investigation took me to lunch when it was all over, case closed, when I was in St. Louis for a SNAP conference.   I had a beer.
 
Because I know what Jesuits can do well, I will seek accountability when they screw up and won't take responsiblity.   They really messed up and it has to be addressed.  That's not because I hate Jesuits.   I don't.   I will make sure they take responsibility and apologize.
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 8:31pm
Kate: I can think of nothing better for you to do than to read John Hardon SJ. Go the website called The Real Presence. I was converted, in part, through his writing. You need to know after what you have suffered that there are, indeed, good and Holy Jesuits. There is no finer example of the priesthood that John Hardon SJ. He has been declared a Servant of God.
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 8:25pm
Sorry for the repetition...
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 8:23pm
Kate: "But there is one more revealing truth of our faith that should be stressed. The mercy of God toward us sinners is our deepest inspiration for practicing mercy toward others. When the executioners nailed Jesus to the Cross on Calvary, He prayed for His Father’s mercy towards those who, under demonic instigation, had murdered Him"

"Among the mysteries of faith, I know of none that is more practically important and more necessary in our day than seeing the providence of God in everything, and I mean everything, in our lives. He puts loving people into our lives, only to take them away. He puts us into positions of influence, and suddenly we find ourselves abandoned. We had good health and now we are crippled, or handicapped or in unbearable pain. We were highly respected by others, consulted by them and, as the expression goes, influential in society. And now? People could not care less about what we think or even whether we are still alive". John Hardon SJ

Not easy to explain, right? Fr. Hardon goes on-"But there is one more revealing truth of our faith that should be stressed. The mercy of God toward us sinners is our deepest inspiration for practicing mercy toward others. When the executioners nailed Jesus to the Cross on Calvary, He prayed for His Father’s mercy towards those who, under demonic instigation, had murdered Him". You are right,Kate. God is always larger that the Enemy who seeks our destruction. Mercy always wins, in the end.

Jack and Brett-Thank you for your kind words. St. Ignatius of Loyola tells us: "If God gives you an abundant harvest of trials, it is a sign of great holiness which He desires you to attain. Do you want to become a great saint? Ask God to send you many sufferings. The flame of Divine Love never rises higher than when fed with the wood of the Cross, which the infinite charity of the Savior used to finish His sacrifice. All the pleasures of the world are nothing compared with the sweetness found in the gall and vinegar offered to Jesus Christ. That is, hard and painful things endured for Jesus Christ and with Jesus Christ."

I think that right now we are called to sacrificial Love, the Love that is acquainted with sorrows. Pope Benedict pleads for conversion, fasting, prayer and Eucharistic Adoration. Here lies out Hope. He knows whereof he speaks... We must pray for him and we must trust in the Holy Spirit.
Kate Smith | 4/11/2010 - 8:15pm
"Kate: No doubt that God's hand in marking the way in your life. God, in is providence, permits sin. You may be the instrument that leads the Jesuits to real penance and reparation. Years ago I read something in the Bible that has always stayed with me: "fight to the death for the Truth and the Lord will war on your side". He will be there with you. Our own redemption is always bound up with each other, right? God Bless You, Kate. I will hold you in prayer."
 
Maria, you brought tears to my eyes.......  Your words matter to me.   Thank you.
John Raymer | 4/11/2010 - 8:03pm
Brett,

We have just read the powerful, personal testimonies of Maria and Kate. Kate has described a "systematic coverup" in detail. Nothing about what either woman has said has anything to do with modern or "liberal" ideas, but everything to do with good-old-fashioned sin. They have both described the latent nature of sexual abuse, as well as the life-destroying shame that hides it. They have shown how shame comes because no one wants to believe that their priest is a sexual predator and because no one wants to admit that they or their family members were abused. This is all compounded when that priest or his bishop-protector is given the power to bind sins and forgive sins, or placed on a pedestal as the mediator between God and sinful man.

Most of us want Benedict to lead us with justice and with truth. I was hoping he would be able to do so regarding the abuse scandals but I am no longer sure that he is up to the task - and that makes be sad.

We are Catholic because we believe in life. We try to choose life but then some priests and bishops feed us the poison of death and tell us it is our fault. We thought is was only in the US, but then we find it is all over the world. And then we find that it is really the product of a "culture of death" that has been living a secret, festering life in the Catholic Church for centuries and is even now being protected at the highest levels.

Brett, I thank you for your persistence because you have driven back to original documents from the Reformation, where these very same problems we are having today were described in great detail. You have given me the opportunity to read powerful testimonies from women who have experienced abuse first hand. All this has shown me that the Church in its present form is both unlikely and unworthy to survive this scandal. And again, I am sad. But then death is the only way to reach the resurection.
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 7:47pm
Such negative picture from Dale; however, that is only part of the equation.
 
He describes the natural human condition but seems to forget the grace that God provides those who seek.  While did doesn't happen in all people, grace can perfect nature, as the saying goes.
 
Thank God for the testimony of grace provided on this board today from Maria B. and Brendan McGrath.
Kate Smith | 4/11/2010 - 7:45pm
P.S.  Maria, re sin, faithlessness, and evil.....
 
Life dealt me an early education.  My two oldest brothers are handicapped.  Same day my parents brought my second oldest brother home, with severe brain injuries, my oldest brother pulled on a cord and spiiled a pot of boiling water over his body.  Back to the hospital.....   One brother grew up to be very violent, chasing people with knives, smashing windows, etc.
 
For these, and other reasons, my Mom was drawn to the Catholic Charismatic renewal in the 70's, and my Dad joined her, so he could have time with her.   She went into it head over heels.   Whenever she was mad at me, she'd tell me I was evil.   She'd tell me to get the evil look off my face - when I didn't know what she was talking about.   I was 10 or  12.  Soon after, my Mom came under the spell of two priests who convinced her that there was a curse on our family, from generations ago in Ireland.   She came home saying we all had to go be prayed over to remove the curse.
 
I said no, and was not fussy about it, simply said I was not going.   I was bewildered when I watched the other six members of my family get into the van for the two hour drive to go be prayed pver by these two priests.   I went outside and stood in the front lawn when they drove away.   I just did not get it   - how I knew God is bigger than evil, but they didn't.
 
Then I was sexually assaulted by a Jesuit priest.  
 
Then two years later the Jesuit who sexually assaulted me called me out of the blue, weeping, apologizing, telling me he was evil, saying it over and over, that he was evil and I was good, and evil is attracted to good.....
 
I figured it out:    God is bigger than evil, but sometimes people aren't.
 
By the way, the two priests who convinced my Mom there was a curse on our family - both priests were removed from ministry in 2002 for sexually abusing minors.   Both of them.
 
Anyway, not sure what prompted me to write this.   Don't want to hijack Fr. Martin's celibacy topic.   I'm just shaking my head bewildered at all of life's lessons.
 
I've never had to sue anybody for anything, but I'm not fazed about the prospect of taking the Jesuits to court.    I have questions.
 
 
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 7:20pm
Kate: No doubt that God's hand in marking the way in your life. God, in is providence, permits sin. You may be the instrument that leads the Jesuits to real penance and reparation. Years ago I read something in the Bible that has always stayed with me: "fight to the death for the Truth and the Lord will war on your side". He will be there with you. Our own redemption is always bound up with each other, right? God Bless You, Kate. I will hold you in prayer.
Dale Rodrigue | 4/11/2010 - 7:15pm
And Jack Raymer, I agree with your assessment.  Celibacy may not be the primary cause but I think it is indeed a piece of the puzzle.
Dale Rodrigue | 4/11/2010 - 7:07pm
Fr. Jim I appreciate your take on the issue and you are the expert. However, I think 4 % is on the low side for abusers.  In my parish alone we've had 4 priests laicized out of 8, at one church alone.  Also, it takes years for sexually abused individuals to come to grips with the horror of abuse and report the offender.  I think that number will rise.  Already we've had another priest credibly accused last year by 2 brothers. this priest died in 1976 and was a pillar of the community.
Also, I don't necessarily agree with the statement you make: ''it means that 96 percent of priests.....  are leading healthy, productive lives in the community.''  They may have not been accused of anything and are totally innocent but many do not lead healthy, productive lives. Does that 96% include the almost 20,000 priests who have left the priesthood to marry?  If you include that number then 96% drops to 48%.
Many I know personally live a hellish life, one had to leave for months of counseling for alcoholism and the other was picked up for DUI. So that's 6 out of eight.  I know another priest who died last year, was in counseling for years, thought that whenever he looked at another woman he was committing lust in his heart.  He was so tormented by this he eventually stopped eating, immune system ran down and died from an MI.  I felt terrible because I was an altar boy at his ordination Mass. 
My point Fr. Jim is that for some celibacy can indeed be a charism and fullfills that priest's life.  You, father Jim are one of those.  But you are a religious and live in a community, you have support.  However, diocesian priests do not live in communities, are usually alone on the front line and have no family, wife or community to help them through all of this.  My heart breaks for those tormented priests who now have to bear the stigma that they may be abusive because of the idiots in the Vatican who didn't give a damn about the laity only the reputation of the church.
Celibacy should be optional as it was in the early church.  The diaconate has grown almost 1000%, why is that? Optional celibacy, 95 % of all permanent deacons are married. 
Can you imagine just 1/4 of that growth in the priesthood if celibacy was optional? No more cluster parishes, no more loss to Pentecostals in South America, we've lost 25 % of Catholics in that region.
In one generation the Church would be the single most powerful voice for Christianity.
Some will disagree, but I personally have seen what it can do and it's not pretty.  And the funny thing is that when I ask people who I know, who disagree, why they aren't celibate, after all even the laity can be celibate too, the conversation usually ends rather quickly. 
When a priest who cannot handle celibacy, is transferred around the diocese, has no roots or family, who cannot handle the pressure of leading a church community, has no say in how he lives, then turns to alcohol, sex or food to compensate, then there is a problem.  And I have presonally known priests who have done all three.
 
 
 
Kate Smith | 4/11/2010 - 7:05pm
Maria, thank you for sharing your experience and the journey you've been on.   You've endured so much.  It sounds like you have some very hard earned perspective on it.  I'm sure none of it is easy.
 
Right now I see clearly that my path is to seek justice and accountability.  I agree with my Baptist attorney, who told me a few days ago that she sees God's hand in this....   Unless someone else does it this week, I will be the first person in the United States to file a lawsuit about a perp priest violating a legal agreement by engaging in public ministry.   It seems grace is all over.  I can feel it.    I did not want this, I did not create this situation, I was dealt it, and I will make sure it is addressed.  No cover up.  If the Jesuits don't accept responsiblity Monday (tomorrow) and apologize, I am taking the next step and going to court.
 
Good Friday was real for me this year.   It's the day my lawyer asked me to read the letter she wrote to the Jesuits:   all the shit in my life, caused by the Jesuits.   Never had such a grace filled Good Friday.  God wanted to talk to me...
 
Again, I really appreciate hearing your story.   I see why your words are so powerful when I read what you say here.  You KNOW what you are saying.
 
Stanley Kopacz | 4/11/2010 - 7:02pm
Nobody's talking about getting rid of celibacy, just not making it a universal condition for priestood.  The married and celibate priesthoods stood side by side for a millenium.  The Church didn't do badly in that millenium.
Just one more thing.  There can be fewer molesters in the priesthood than in the general  population but how relatively effective are those pedophiles in terms of numbers of people they molest.  I don't know the answer but I think it is a worthwhile question.  Would Maciel have been able to perpetrate so much abuse if he had been a car mechanic?
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 6:43pm
Kate: I too am a victim of abuse; however, I was abused for many years by a neighbor. It started when I was very,very young. My parents were advised by a Jesuit priest to "ignore it". Both of my maternal Aunts were nuns with the Daughters of Charity. Both had psychiatric nursing bacgrounds, one of whom became the Director of Catholic Charities in New York. They too advised that my parents ignore it.

In my early thirties I began recalling some details. I was working with children who had been abused (I have been a clinical social worker for 20+ years). I suffered a stroke while the memory returned. I spoke with my parents and discoverd that I had told them that this man threatened to kill me with a knife. I had no memory of telling them this. I spent years in a wasteland of addiction and what was diagnosed as Manic Depression. The course of my life was fueled by rage. I received years of psychiatric care. I never married and was never able to sustain a relationship with a man. I have no relationship with my siblings.The aftermath of this sin has been of biblical proportion. The man lost both of his hands in an industrial accident. It reads like a Flannery O'Connor story.

I mention the the Jesuit above and my Aunts because I do not think people realize how in the dark the world was about abuse. It was not until the 80's that trauma theory was really fully developed and Psychiatry really began to understand the dynmaics of abuse. Trauma, as I am sure you know, Kate, is extraordinarily complex. My Father used to say, refering to my own abuse, that the situation had been "mishandled". My parents never even told the MD's who were treating me that I had been abused. I had no memory. My parents were my memory and they hid it from others. When I discovered only five years ago that they never told the MD's treating me, I was horrified. I could not belive it.

So. What is the point? We are all afflicted with original sin. We all come to God in our woundedness begging Him for Mercy. Through the grace of God, I started to go to daily Mass about a year ago. I developed a love of the Saints. I made a good Confession. I encountered my Savior. I know that my salvation is with Him, in Him and though him. I know that I am changed through the reception of the Eucharist. I have not been on any psychiatric medication for at least three years.I have been relieved of my anger. I have been sober for five years. I have lived through domestic violence, a fire and homelessness. I have survived all manner of loss. I have a job at a prestigous hospital. I should be dead. I believe in one Holy, Catholic and apostolic Church -lock, stock and barrel. There is no way out of suffering except through the fire and the Cross. The Church will survive this and She will be better for it. Remember what St Paul tell us: where sin abounded, grace abounded more....And this year, Easter was REAL.
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 5:08pm
Jack: "b. If our bishops are so much holier than the rest of us sinners, why did they tolerate the abuse by covering it up?"
 
An answer - while the majority of bishops and priests are good men, a minority will fall from grace into depravity such as the homosexual defrocked ex-bishop Weakland or any other that did not deal with abuse.
 
This says more about human nature than it says about church culture. 
 
Because some fall far from holiness does not mean that there is nothing holy to strive for or that holy men do not exist...
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 4:47pm
Jack, I apologize if I come off angry - I am not.  However, I am fed up with the press and others using this issue to try to push their agenda or falsely discredit a very holy man named Benedict.
 
I am defensive - but at this point I think it is justified.
 
As for your comments on clericalism and celabicy, I am reading in between the line as we all do in any form of communication.  It matters not only what you type - but how it is said, what is left out etc. etc.  The dicotomy of us (laity) vs. them (clergy) is really a bit too simple and it is very close to the American Protestant ideology/theology that emphasises the individual over the community.  We are the body of Christ and we all have a part to play. 
 
I also am vexed by the abuse of power in this crisis - but (again) it is more complex than the simple good vs. evil characture that is often presented by people on this board.  What of bishops who were informed by modern medicine and psychology that said mere therapy would cure the abuser?  What of the theological and social issues of sin v. crime?  What of the issue of possibly defrocking a priest who was wrongly accussed?  False repressed memories etc.? 
 
I do not make excuses for evil - evil, faithlessness men did abuse their power.  However, to simlifiy the issue to a "systematic coverup" or blame one leader (Benedict) so that this will pass is not the answer. 
 
And in my opinion, it is the modern liberal ideas that have infected the Church (both the clergy and the laity) and their widespread ramifications that have caused this crisis.
 
What we need are not married priests, or female priests, or acceptance of sin - what we need now are faithful, strong and traditional priests and religious - and they are filling the ranks of traditional orders both for sisters, brothers and priests.  And well informed and faithful laity. 
 
If this is in the form of a smaller church, so be it.
 
 
Kate Smith | 4/11/2010 - 4:31pm
Maria, you were responding to Jack, but your powerful words moved me.
 
I have been racking my brain trying to fathom HOW, three years after I was found credible by the Missouri Jesuits, and the perp Jesuit removed and banned from ministry, the next Missouri Jesuit provincial allowed the perp Jesuit back in public ministry, teaching and presiding at mass.
 
As I struggle with trying to imagine it, all I can come up with is there is evil in the world.  When Jesuit provincials only think about their man, and not the victim, and not their signed legal agreement, and not their promises and commitments - that is evil in the world.
 
I don't like saying that, but I haven't liked most of this road dealing with being sexually assaulted by a Jesuit.   But, gosh, back in ministry three years later (after being banned for life)..... signed legal document....  I don't know how else to see it.
 
I'm saying this publicly, dealing with it publicly, because I want people to know it happens.  I will not participate in any cover ups.  By the way, Fr. Nicolas is ignoring the problem.  What does that say about him?
 
 
 
 
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 4:11pm
b. "If our bishops are so much holier than the rest of us sinners, why did they tolerate the abuse by covering it up"?

Jack-I responded to this question on a previous post in this way:

“The ‘mystery’ of why nearly all bishops of dioceses where victims of clerical sexual abuse have surfaced, have continued to hide perpetrators, appears to be finally solved in this amazing work [The Rite of Sodomy by Terry Engels] , by the documented revelations that many bishops and cardinals are themselves pederasts and homosexuals, and therefore, they rightly fear public exposure of their own nefarious sexual exploits if they crack down on their fellow clerical sodomites,” reports Cillis. Cillis is a Franciscan tertiary and author of 'Arrivederci, Padre Pio – A Spiritual Daughter Remembers'. Cillis reviewed Rite of Sodomy when it was first published.

The sexual abuse of prepubescent and postpubescent males is rooted in faithlessness and infidelity. Hierarcy? Bureacracy? Law? Protocol? Power? No, this is a deep and grave spiritual problem.
John Raymer | 4/11/2010 - 3:23pm
Brett,
I don't think I said what you think I said.

1. I do not reject authority and never have. But I do want those in high positions to excerise that authority with justice and truth. It is the gross lack of justice and truth that offends me.

2. While some people certainly are holier than others, I do not hold that holiness comes from a persons official status as religious or lay. We have had some very unholy people as popes and bishops and some very holy people in the most humble vocations.

3. You ask some technical questions about the prevalency of abuse in various professions, which I cannot answer. As I have said over and over, abuse occurs everywhere and in every era. My problem is with the systematic coverup. One might hypothesize that abuse is simply less reported in the Catholic Church because of the institutional protections that protect it.

4. I never said celibacy was "antithetical or an obstical to faith." One of the great losses of the Protestant Church is that they dissovled the monasteries and destroyed religious life. This cut off the Protestants from much of the richness of Christianity. But there is a major difference between the religious life and the parish priesthood.

5. Now some questions for you, Brett:
a. Why are you so angry? You have been defending the indefensible for weeks.
b. If our bishops are so much holier than the rest of us sinners, why did they tolerate the abuse by covering it up?

6. My journey to Catholicism is not for this forum, but some Jesuits were quite involved.
Brendan McGrath | 4/11/2010 - 3:21pm
Fr. Martin,
For what it's worth, I just wanted to say that I'm a 27-year-old Catholic who greatly appreciates priestly celibacy - while some may argue that there would be advantages to ordaining married people as well (as we do in the Eastern rite and in certain exceptions, etc.), I think there would be many disadvantages too.  Losing priestly celibacy would be a sad and great loss for the Church.  At Georgetown, I always felt (and still feel) that the celibacy of the Jesuits and the fact, the fact that they live in a ''dorm'' so to speak like we did... it made me feel closer to them; it was comforting having them right there.  I remember sometimes, walking past the old Jesuit residence, I would briefly sort of brush my hand against the bricks of the wall, as if it were a sacramental of sorts.  Anyway, in the midst of all this mess where the truth just doesn't seem to matter anymore to much of the media (yes, the Vatican, Benedict XVI, etc. are to be blamed for many things, but the media is in so many cases reporting things in a distorted way and out of context), I just wanted to give you, other Jesuits, and all priests in general some encouragement, support, and expressions of gratitude and love.  Thank you for all that you do, thank you for who you are, thank you for embracing celibacy, and thank you so very much for being a Jesuit priest.
-Brendan McGrath (product of 8 years of Jesuit education - Saint Joseph's Prep '01, Georgetown University '05.  And when I got my Master of Theological Studies at Notre Dame ('08), I found Jesuits there too!)
Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 2:54pm
Jack - sorry but I have to inquire: why did you become catholic if you believe that authority and celabicy are antithetical or are an obstical to faith?
 
Catholics belive in difference and some people are more holy than others - take a look at Communion of Saints! 
 
Priests answered Christ's direct call for his disciples to leave their families and possessions and follow the Word of God. Those that make this choice are more holy because they imitate Christ more fully.  They can also fall from grace like the rest of us - but this does not discount Christ's message or his challenge to his followers to imitate Him and Him alone.
 
And please break this riddle for me - why is abuse MORE prevalent in other religious groups and in general society where there is not the issue of "celabicy providing the glue of clericalism"??  What of school teachers moved from school to school - or coaches - or rabbis protected by the community etc. etc. 
 
Authority does not cause abuse - and decentralized authority - as seen in other religious comunities - does not prevent abuse or stop it any more effeciently.
 
Was clerical authority abused by a minority of priests and bishops?  Yes!  Does this call into question all authority??  No.
 
 
Livia Fiordelisi | 4/11/2010 - 2:37pm
Jack Raymer, Thank you for your wise words. Celibacy itself is not the problem but can lead to the problems you list. I am a single woman who has always lived my relationships with God and others as a celibate. It comprises joy and struggle, inspires me to live generously and love more profoundly. It is one part of the total mystery of God's life in me, not a badge of honor or sign of holiness. Celibacy can never be required but only received as a gift. As Richard Sipe points out, ordained priesthood and celibacy are separate vocations that sometimes overlap.
Kate Smith | 4/11/2010 - 2:37pm
I agree with much of what Jack wrote.
 
I don't think celibacy causes priests to become abusers - though I can't rule out that it played some role in the sick psyche of the Jesuit who assaulted me.
 
But I think celibacy plays a major role in creating the clerical state, the club mentality, that permitted and prolonged the cover up for centuries.   The clerical state also allowed abusers to abuse repeatedly.   And in my case, it allowed the Jesuit perp's ''Society'' to return him to public ministry, violating a legal agreement, promises and commitments.   The next Jesuit provincial only thought about their man - even in this ''new era'', post 2002.
 
Indirectly, celibacy and the club played a role.    It still does.
John Raymer | 4/11/2010 - 1:57pm
But is celibacy a cause of the coverup? From my view as a layperson from a Protestant background, I can see the following:

1. The principal criterion for becoming a priest has, by default, become the willingness to be celibate. This drastically shrinks the pool of available candidates, which makes bishops reluctant to laicize.

2. Celibacy becomes the common wound that unites many priests into a close-knit fraternity. Loyalty to fellow fraternity brothers can then become more important than anything else. This is why bishops are unwilling to turn their fellow frat brothers over to the police.

3. There is no evidence whatsoever that being celibate makes someone a better priest. Protestant and Orthodox clergy do just fine. Most people who have experienced both would say that married clergy are actually much better at the parish level than celibate clergy because they understand the complexities of family life first hand and are more like their parishoners in life experience.

The real problem is the coverup and the clericalism that tolerates abuse by protecting abusers. It is a question worthy of serious investigation as to whether celibacy is the glue of this clericalism, setting the clergy apart from the people and allowing priests and bishops think they are superior and more holy to the rest of us.

Anonymous | 4/11/2010 - 1:01pm
Maureen Dowd today: "I, too, rationalized as men in dresses allowed our religious kingdom to decay and to cling to outdated misogynistic rituals, blind to the benefits of welcoming women’s brains, talents and hearts into their ancient fraternity."
 
I hope this entire episode opens Fr. Jim's eyes to the true nature of "tolerence" within the modern liberal press and society. 
 
You are not one of "them" and neither are the rest of us Catholics...we are to be berrated, attacked, and humiliated until we start thinking and attacking like good modern liberals...no dissent is allowed, no differences, no truth!
 
 
Michael Laing | 4/11/2010 - 12:49pm
While I do not believe celibacy causes pediphelia, but I do believe that it has some effect on the maturity of the priesthood.  There is also a question in my mind about the agument that only 4-5 per cent of the priest were involved.  I do not believe that the abuse of women has yet to come up on the radar's scope.  The statistics I am hearing is that something like 20% or more of supposedly celibate priests are in a full time sexual relationship with a woman.  Since these are consensual relationships, they are not legally abuse, but they certainly indicate a problem with forced celibacy.
PATRICK DARCY | 4/11/2010 - 12:43pm
I agree with Jim Martin.  There are many valid reasons for the church to change the discipline of celibacy.  However, the sexual abuse scandal in the church is not one of them.  Celibacy is no more the cause of pedophilia than marriage is the cause of incest.  Paraphrasing my teacher of historical theology, “If you are already a pedophile, what ordination makes you is an ordained pedophile.”  Four percent of those who abused children are sick, with an illness that is practicably incurable.  The other 96 % are free of that illness.  While it is true that not a lot was written or known about pedophilia when much of the abuse took place, the bishops should have known a priest abusing over and over was not suited to priestly ministry.