Monday, 20 April 2009

Abuse cases: why priestly celibacy is not the issue.

One of the most cited causes of the abuse scandals in the Church - at least on the part of some, mostly with another agenda in mind - is the requirement for priests to be celibate. But the evidence is increasingly clear cut (if it wasn't always) that this isn't the issue at all, because abuse cases are more prevalent outside the Church than they are in.

There have been a string of recent cases in Australia of secular teaches abusing minors (often girls), and of cover-ups relating to them - see for example this story in the Sydney Morning Herald. And now Inside Catholic has put up an article putting together the evidence in the case of the US, and detailing the evils behind the real cost to the court cases there.

Secularism is the real problem

What both these stories illustrate is that the real issue is the self-indulgent secularist culture that encourages people to indulge their pleasures, licit or not, and without any respect for the rights of others.

Now I have to say that I don't entirely agree with the spin Inside Catholic puts on it all. I think, for example, that those in the Church are called to a higher standard - Christians after all, are supposed to be in the world, not of it; and priests are required to lead by example.

But the key point is that it is the failure of our shepherds to insist on resisting secularism, and maintaining church moral teaching that has not only led to the abuse scandal but also the falling away from the faith of so many catholics. Instead of resisting the secularism, the Church pretty much welcomed it, watering down the traditional requirements that gave us all some training in asceticism and thus resistance to sin, such as fasting, while at the same time priests and institutions claiming to be catholic (such as the Tablet) led the resistance to Humane Vitae and other moral teachings. When I became a catholic, for example, the priest instructing me used the infamous Dutch Catechism (albeit with corrections noted in an appendix at the back) as his main text...

The Liberal view that we need to change the faith entirely notwithstanding, the solution seems to me pretty clearcut: insist on a God-oriented liturgy, not one that encourages egotism; teach the faith; and restore the traditional asceticisms. And then go out and re-evangelize!

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