Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Celibacy and Sex Abuse

The latest rounds of child sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church in Ireland, Austria, Germany, The Netherlands, and Brazil (caught on video and aired on a Brazilian TV station), among other places, have led several prominent Catholics to call for an end to the celibacy requirement.

Among the voices:

  • Theologian Hans Kung who, commenting on the latest rash of sex abuse cases, asks “Why is it so prevalent in the Catholic Church under celibate leadership?” and opines: “Compulsory celibacy is the principal reason for today’s catastrophic shortage of priests, for the fatal neglect of eucharistic celebration, and for the tragic breakdown of personal pastoral ministry in many places.”

  • Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Archbishop of Vienna, who called for celibacy to be reexamined and then was pressured by the Vatican to "clarify" his remarks and indicate that he still supported celibacy.

  • Bishop Hans-Jochen Jaschk of Hamburg, Germany, spoke about the issue on German radio: "The celibate lifestyle can attract people who have an abnormal sexuality and cannot integrate sexuality into their lives. That's when a dangerous situation can arise."

Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI has continued to defend the celibacy rule calling it the sign of full devotion, the entire commitment to the Lord and to the 'Lord's business', an expression of giving oneself to God and to others". The official Church position is that celibacy has no relationship to sexual abuse of minors. I, Rebel Girl, actually agree with the Vatican on this point, although I believe that celibacy should be made optional for other reasons.

Finally, Univision posted a survey today asking viewers whether the Vatican should eliminate the celibacy requirement. If you can understand Spanish and want to vote, click here.

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